December 19, 2014

Arsene Wenger has already adjusted to the spate of injuries that has severely tested Arsenal's depth. Jurgen Klopp is trying to do likewise as Liverpool host an in-form Gunners side Wednesday at Anfield.

First-place Arsenal (13-3-4) have been the class of the Premier League over the past five weeks, ripping off seven wins in eight matches across all competitions. The only blip on that screen was a 4-0 pasting administered by Southampton on Boxing Day, but Wenger's charges quickly regrouped with three wins on the bounce.

The Gunners began their bid for a third consecutive FA Cup title in strong fashion Saturday, overcoming an early defensive lapse to beat Sunderland 3-1. Joel Campbell scored the equaliser before Hector Bellerin set up markers by Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud three minutes apart in the second half.

"In the second half we took over," Wenger said. "We played in their half, scored great goals, and created many chances."

Wenger, who has had to mix and match his lineups all season with injuries to Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck among others, feels the busy January schedule has helped his players maintain their focus because they all want to contribute.

"You have a rhythm (when you have a lot of games)," Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "It is easier to keep the squad focused and motivated when you have many games.

"... Everyone in the next competition thinks they have to play, and that is a positive. There is fatigue and injuries at the end of the season but you can't say we are not a big club and that we can't go for the big competitions, that is important."

Giroud's goal was his team-best 16th across all competitions, and the France international has had a goal or an assist in seven of Arsenal's last eight matches. Wenger was able to rest playmaker Mesut Ozil, whose league-best 16 assists are already the second-highest Premier League total of the last eight seasons behind Cesc Fabregas' 18 last year. The German midfielder should be back in the starting XI.

While Wenger has made chicken salad from chicken parts, Klopp is looking for any players with full working parts - or at least two functional hamstrings - for Liverpool (8-6-6). The combination of the compressed schedule and the soft-tissue lower-body injury have ravaged the Reds roster as the following list reads like a who's who of Liverpool's first-choice players:

-- Forward Daniel Sturridge, hurt in December and re-evaluated on a weekly basis.

-- Midfielder Jordan Rossiter, injured in December and out at least two more weeks.

-- Defender Martin Skrtel, injured before Boxing Day and likely sidelined until February.

-- Striker Divock Origi, injured on Boxing Day and expected to miss both matches this week.

-- Defender Dejan Lovren, injured Jan. 5 and sidelined two more weeks.

-- Playmaker Philippe Coutinho, also injured against Stoke City and out until February.

Kolo Toure and Jordon Ibe both picked up hamstring knocks in Liverpool's last two matches, but both players are expected to be available for selection this weekend. Jon Flanagan, Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson, however, are all out.

This is Liverpool's third match in eight days, and the most recent one added another fixture to the already-cramped January schedule. Klopp overturned all 11 spots in his starting lineup Friday at League Two Exeter City, and the 2-2 draw forced the Reds into a third-round replay of their FA Cup tie on Jan. 20 at Anfield.

Brad Smith scored a late equaliser for Liverpool, whose average age among the starters was barely beyond 22 years old. Jose Enrique and Christian Benteke were the most senior players on the roster.

"We have to respect our situation and that's what we did," Klopp told Liverpool's official website. "We were here to go through to the next round. It didn't work out 100 percent - 50 percent - so now we have another game at Anfield."

Liverpool are 3-1-1 in their last five matches but have split their last four in the Premier League, with listless shutout defeats at Watford and West Ham bookending 1-0 victories over Leicester City and Sunderland.

Klopp's predecessor Brendan Rodgers oversaw an entertaining scoreless draw in the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium in August as Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech had world-class saves to deny Benteke and Coutinho, while Liverpool counterpart Simon Mingolet thwarted a quality chance from Giroud.

The Gunners have had the upper hand in this fixture of late, going 8-7-2 across all competitions since the start of the 2008-09 season.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)