Liverpool hope that Daniel Sturridge will play through his pain although Roy Hodgson said Sturridge would be out of a month.
But Liverpool are facing some choices. They still haven’t finished their quarter final FA Cup round yet and have to play Blackburn, and then face Villa in the quarters, so much depends on how they see the priorities and how they plan such matters.
They could of course rest Balotelli, or rest everyone and play Balotelli, but either way it would be hard to tell since he looks like he’s resting whether he is on the pitch or not.
If Sturridge is unfit, Sterling is likely to return to the striking role.
But apart from the Sturridge and Stirling issues (oh, and Stirling has a sore toe), what else have they got? Well… Steven Gerrard apologised for stamping about half a second after he came on the pitch, (but seemingly not to the player he stamped – although he made much of the apology on radio. However the dopes that do the shows didn’t mention that he ought to say sorry to the man he hurt).
But still the great Gerrado is banned, and so is Martin Skrtel. Adam Lallana is recovering from injury.
But what of Ramsey, I hear you cry (although not literally of course). And indeed what of the injury position overall?
Well, Aston Villa are top of the injury league with 11 men down, while Arsenal are in the bottom three, with only two men down. That’s what Physio Room says, anyway.
Bottom are Man City with one injury and above them, Leicester and Arsenal each with two. Tottenham who appeared to have become the jammy sods of the league with zero for a while, are now up to four.
Our two out are quoted as Welbeck and the Ox, which means Ramsey is all right. Liverpool are quoted as five men out: Sturridge, Lovren, Lallana, Ibe and Flanagan.
But it is also looking as if Arsenal are not only having to contend with at least one physical injury resultant from the week of nationalistic hyperbole they now also have to deal with the aftermath of psychological difficulties, and Mr Wenger has been talking his talk about Theo and the second international, saying…
“I don’t worry about Theo because he’s not completely there yet and I told you that a few times,” [ah nice dig a journalstic dodos]. “He has been out for a year with a very bad injury and he’s coming back. But being exposed like that, people have a harsh judgment on him that is not deserved because he does well. For me, he is on course to come back but he’s not completely there.
“He is strong mentally, but he is disappointed because when you come back you always think you are ready. He needs patience. He is at the moment not in his best mood. He is not a fragile type. He has big confidence in himself and he has gone through some difficult periods in his life and he has always come out with strength.”
Mr Wenger also made the obvious point concerning the international (but which needs making when one is dealing with international managers, who generally find such things difficult to grasp), “Theo’s strength is the quality of his movements, he wants to go to get on the end of things. He’s not a guy who provides….
“Maybe Rooney took the initiative during the game to play higher up and tell Theo to drop back. I haven’t seen Roy Hodgson in the game standing up to say: ‘Walcott, you come and play in midfield and Rooney you go up front’. That’s an initiative they took on the pitch.”
Nice one, boss.
Back to Liverpool and the club’s fans (who we shall watch with interest to see if Arsenal let them get away with more flare and smoke bomb throwing – each incidence of which takes us closer to a closure of the stadium for failing to control the crowd). How will they respond to Raheem Sterling and what seems like a 20 year old saying £5,200,000 a year ain’t enough.
It was an interesting time to do the interview, and it was fun to watch the response from the Liverpool manager, who to me never looks utterly comfortable when trying to talk up Liverpool’s current position in football.
If Liverpool were to win, and Sterling score, one suspects the rapidly swivelling morality of Liverpool fans would turn once again, and he’d be welcome back – not least because Liverpool have only won once at Arsenal in the last 18 games here (of the rest 10 were won by Arsenal and seven drawn). I suspect Liverpool will be happy enough with a draw and no new injuries ahead of the FA Cup replay.
So what else do we know?
We’ve only lost one of the last seven league and cup games against Liverpool having won four and lost two. But that is the one everyone in the media talks about – the 5-1 defeat in February last year. Still you know the media rule concerning Arsenal. “You’re only as good as your last bad defeat,” (until they pick up a better stat on Untold and then rave about the club).
But there are always some bad stats around if you look hard enough, so how about the fact that we have only won on of the last 11 home league games against Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool. That should give the aaa some pleasure.
However we drew seven of those games, not least because of a growing tendency of clubs of all types to come to Arsenal and go for the draw.
But let’s not be downcast. We have won eight consecutive home league games; the longest winning streak since moving to the Emirates and the best since the fabuloso 13-match run in 2005.
Oh yes and we have scored in all 22 of the league and cup games at the Ems this season.
However Liverpool want their own record. If we don’t score against them that will mean the seventh consecutive top-flight away match without letting in a goal beating their record set in both 1966 (when they won the league) and 1972 (when they came third). But no, let’s not give them that one.
So to the teams:
Bellerin, Kos, Mert, Monreal
Ozil, Cazorla, Sanchez
In the sunshine on the beach, some of…
Debuchy, Rosicky, Welbeck, Gabriel, Szczesny, Theo, Gibbs, Flamini.
Arsenal on this day… a set of Tottenham anniversaries.
- 4 April 1913: Spurred on by Tottenham Hotspur’s objections, the Highbury Defence Committee joined with Islington Council and pushed through a vote protesting against Arsenal moving to the Gillespie Road ground. Also here
- 4 April 1983: Tottenham 5 Arsenal 0. It was the first time since Christmas Day 1911 that Tottenham had scored five against Arsenal. It was the last time ever that Tottenham scored five against Arsenal in a league match.
- 4 April 1993: A Tony Adams header won Arsenal’s 18th F.A. Cup semi-final, against Tottenham. See also here And here This was Cup match 14 of the Cup Double Year
All the anniversaries of each day are listed on the home page each day, unless we forget. The files showing over 4500 Arsenal anniversaries are on the Arsenal History Society site, with an index a little way down the home page of that site.