Football: Weekend guide to the Premiership - Arsenal v Liverpool, Last season: 0-1

MATCH OF THE WEEKEND
Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE FRENCH flavour of this afternoon's meeting between Monsieur Wenger's Gunners and Monsieur Houllier's Liverpool will be enhanced by the appearance of the home side's Nicolas Anelka, who passed a fitness test yesterday and will lead Arsenal's attack after two games out with a sprained ankle.

The Dutchman Marc Overmars replaces Anelka as the most serious injury doubt for Wenger, having had a reaction to a kick on the knee he received in the 4-2 FA Cup win at Preston on Monday. The Dutchman had to pull out of training yesterday and his manager said his chances of playing today were little more than 20 per cent. Portugal's Luis Boa Morte (left) will wait until this afternoon to see if he will be switched from his usual central striking position to the left-wing to replace Overmars, allowing the return from illness of Christopher Wreh to partner Anelka up front in the continued absence of Dennis Bergkamp. Arsenal are still without England internationals David Seaman, Tony Adams and Nigel Winterburn and Sweden's Fredrik Ljungberg, as well as their two Argentinian recruits Nelson Vivas (suspended) and striker Fabian Caballero (flu), but will be buoyed by the recent resurgence in form that has seen three straight Premiership wins.

Winterburn has not sufficiently recovered from hamstring trouble to take over again from Vivas at left-back and the job will now go to one of two teenagers - Matthew Upson or David Grondin.

Liverpool's renaissance under Houllier faces its hardest test in recent weeks despite being unbeaten in their last 11 matches against Arsenal. The Reds, like their hosts, have also won three League games on the trot - to temporarily silence the critics who say they are too inconsistent to mount a viable title challenge - but must produce results against genuine contenders to secure a place in the same company.

Houllier has to decide whether to bring back striker Robbie Fowler (right) to the starting line-up. The England forward, who is being linked with a move to Highbury, missed the Reds' 4-2 League win against Newcastle through injury, but came off the bench to score in the 3-0 FA Cup win at Port Vale. Houllier must decide whether to start with Fowler and Michael Owen in attack or to keep faith with Karlheinz Riedle. Captain Paul Ince is struggling with flu, but the Norwegian full-back Vegard Heggem should have recovered from the illness that kept him out of the Cup win. Stig Bjornebye is suspended, which gives an opportunity for Dominic Matteo or Steve Harkness to play at left-back.

ARSENAL (from): Manninger, Dixon, Keown, Bould, Grondin, Upson, Parlour, Petit, Vieira, Anelka, Overmars, Boa Morte, Wreh, Mendez, Vernazza, Garde, Lukic (gk).

LIVERPOOL (from): James, Heggem, McAteer, Carragher, Staunton, Babb, Harkness, Matteo, Redknapp, Ince, Berger, Owen, Riedle, Fowler, Friedel, Kvarme, Thompson, Gerrard.

Suspensions: Arsenal: Vivas. Liverpool: Bjornebye.

Referee: G Barber.

Comments