Rafa Benitez has finally been able to pick his strongest side – although Alberto Aquilani doesn’t follow his first start for the club in midweek with another start today.
Injuries have plagued the Liverpool manager all season, and although other factors have played a part in a massively disappointing season the absence of key players for every single game of the season can’t be ignored. Even today there are questions marks as to which players are 100% fit.
But Pepe Reina will look out of his goal at a back four of Glen Johnson, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and Fabiou Aurelio. Emiliano Insua drops to the bench.
Lucas starts in midfield, his time in the middle perhaps coming to an end if Aquilani can get back to full match fitness. He’ll partner Javier Mascherano.
Dirk Kuyt and Yossi Benayoun also start, but the two names that mean most are Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, and Liverpool fans are delighted that both are back.
But even if it is as close to a first-choice side as you can get under Rafael Benitez, it’s also up against a strong side in Arsenal. Both sides have become accustomed to being top four sides in recent years, but both sides know that record is under threat with the likes of Spurs and Manchester City investing heavily in their squads in an attempt to break into that top four. Dropped points for either side will be a huge disappointment for them.
Liverpool: 25 Reina, 2 Johnson, 23 Carragher, 5 Agger, 12 Aurelio, 20 Mascherano, 21 Lucas, 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 15 Benayoun, 9 Torres
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 22 Insua, 27 Degen, 37 Skrtel, 38 Dossena, 4 Aquilani, 24 Ngog
Arsenal: 1 Almunia, 3 Sagna, 5 Vermaelen, 10 Gallas, 30 Traore, 4 Fabregas, 8 Nasri, 14 Walcott, 15 Denilson, 17 Song Billong, 23 Arshavin
Subs: 21 Fabianski, 18 Silvestre, 2 Diaby, 16 Ramsey, 19 Wilshere, 9 Eduardo, 12 Vela
Referee: Howard Webb