Wounded Reds face gritty Gunners

Kostas Tsimikas

INTERNATIONAL breaks are never fun for Liverpool.

It is often dreaded upon as there will always be players returning with injuries. And this time, it is no different. It’s like a curse.

The latest player to join the crock list is Andrew Robertson, who limped off during Scotland’s World Cup qualifier against Denmark.

He joins Harvey Elliot, Naby Keita, Joe Gomez, Curtis Jones and Roberto Firmino on the sidelines when the Reds take on Arsenal at Anfield tomorrow.

It is fortunate that Jurgen Klopp still has a capable backup in Kostas Tsimikas to slot in that left-back position.

The Greek international has been getting positive reactions from fans for his Spartan-like performances.

His never-say-die attitude to fight for the ball and deliver pinpoint crosses will be needed when facing on-form Gunners.

It is quite a concern for the Reds when several first team players are sidelined through injury, leaving the squad thin on resources.

Most will remember how a centreback injury crisis last season derailed the team’s quest to retain the Premier League title, so news of injured players are often frowned upon.

There is some relief for Klopp though, as the injuries sustained by Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Divock Origi while with their respective national teams, are deemed to be not serious.

James Milner is also closing on return to the first team.

Their fitness, however, will be closely checked and monitored to see if they can play against Arsenal.

Having dropped points in the last two matches against Brighton and West Ham, Liverpool needs to get a good result in order to keep pace with league leaders Chelsea.

While the Merseyside club is not shy in front of goals, it is the recent uncharacteristic defensive frailty that is worrisome.

The defenders were just not acting as a cohesive unit in the last two league matches, which Klopp needs to fix before facing Arsenal.

The way the Reds let the Seagulls come back to draw 2-2 and getting outplayed by Hammers’ attackers just seems so wrong.

Everyone from the front to the back will need to pull together and defend as a team. Otherwise, it will be another torrid time for the Reds.

With Virgil van Dijk the mainstay in the heart of defence, it will be interesting to see who Klopp would partner the big Dutchman with.

Both Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate would merit a place alongside van Dijk.

The Cameroonian rarely has a bad game, with the exception of the West Ham game, while the Frenchman has also played well when called upon.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who got a hat-trick of assists when England thrashed San Marino 10-0, is expected to retain his place.

His understudy — Nico Williams, who scored for Wales against Belarus last week — will have to settle for the bench.

With Firmino absent, Liverpool will have to rely on Diogo Jota once again with the hope that he can pop up at the right moment to score a goal or two.

Liverpool will also hope that their Egyptian talisman Mohamed Salah will start banging in goals again after having not scored in the last two matches.

Everyone needs to be on their toes to put pressure on Arsenal from start to end, in order to shut them out.

Mikel Arteta’s team are playing well at the moment and have not lost since the 5-0 hammering they received from Manchester City at the end of August.

Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are two driving forces for the Gunners and the reasons why they are now only two points behind Liverpool in fifth spot.

They will be the dangermen that Liverpool have to be wary of.

Liverpool do boast a good record against Arsenal at Anfield, having not lost here in a Premier League match since 2012.

In fact, they have thumped Arsenal on several occasions since 2017 and should be inspired to do so again.

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