Anfield has not exactly been a happy hunting ground for Arsenal in recent years.
While it was the site of their famous title win in 1989, the Gunners have failed to win there since 2012 and have conceded 28 goals in their last eight matches at the famous ground.
It is for this reason that the first fixture back after the international break away to Liverpool is being viewed as such a test for Mikel Arteta‘s side.
Lose and they will be dismissed as having only played ‘easy’ sides across their recent 10 match unbeaten run, but win and people may just start to take their top four credentials seriously.
With this in mind Arsenal could use every advantage they can get and it seems they could have been handed not one, not two, but three potential boosts ahead of the trip to Jurgen Klopp‘s team.
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Last season Liverpool suffered terrible luck with injuries as talismanic centre back Virgil Van Dijk was ruled out for most of the campaign before Joe Gomez and Joel Matip went on to have problems of their own later on.
While the defence has generally been OK fitness-wise so far this time around, the curse appears to have struck again on their front line.
Roberto Firmino was ruled out before the international break with what Klopp described as a “serious hamstring injury” sustained against Atletico Madrid, but it seems he may not be the only one of their famous front three missing for Saturday’s match.
Sadio Mane was forced off during Senegal’s 1-1 draw with Togo last week with a rib injury that saw him return to Liverpool in order to conduct some X-Rays.
It should be said that Senegal coach Alou Cisse was keen to stress that the injury wasn’t as serious as first feared.
“Yes, the exit of Sadio Mane destabilised us,” he told reporters after the game.
“He is an important player for the team, we took him off as a precaution and there is nothing serious.”
If he is out though, Mane’s record of six goals in 10 Premier League appearances for Liverpool against Arsenal, means that it would be a massive boost for the Gunners and Takehiro Tomiyasu in particular.
It would force Klopp to give a rare start to either Tomiyasu’s international teammate Takumi Minamino or Belgian Divock Origi in the game.
However, before anyone gets too excited, it’s worth remembering that Mo Salah has seven goals in his last nine games against Arsenal, while Diogo Jota netted three times in the two Premier League clashes between the sides last season.
Liverpool are also facing the prospect of being without their captain Jordan Henderson for this match after the England international was sent home early from international duty following an injury sustained in the Three Lions’ 5-0 win over Albania on Friday.
Like with Mane though, Henderson’s international manager has moved to play down the severity of the problem.
“With Hendo, [it happened] within the game,” Gareth Southgate said. “There’s a precaution with both [Henderson and Jack Grealish].
“We’ve scanned them. There is small injuries on the scans so we just hope that they’re not going to miss too much football from here on.
“It shouldn’t be too bad in either case but we just have to see how that progresses.”
Given that Liverpool are already missing Naby Keita and James Milner due to hamstring injuries and have Harvey Elliot out for the long term with a dislocated ankle, another absentee could force Klopp to hand a start to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against his former club.
The 28-year-old would be battling with Curtis Jones who is expected to be back from an eye injury that kept him out of the defeat to West Ham before the international break, while Thiago and Fabinho are both options.
Henderson’s absence though would represent something of a boost for Arsenal who are currently struggling with some midfield problems of their own.
Granit Xhaka is still expected to be out until the New Year with a knee injury despite being pictured running on his own in training at London Colney.
After a poor start the Gunners are finally firing
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It is also unclear if Thomas Partey will be available for the trip to Anfield after missing international duty with Ghana due to a groin strain.
In the 28-year-old’s absence Albert Sambi Lokonga and Ainsley Maitland-Niles played against Watford, with Liverpool’s pressing, Saturday’s match could represent a whole other level of test for the Gunners young midfield.
Liverpool potential line up vs Arsenal: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago; Salah, Origi, Jota.