In the build up to today’s trip to North London, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers insisted that he’d name a strong side to face Arsenal, and he wasn’t kidding — it’s just not quite as strong as you’d expect.
There’s three changes from the side that downed Fulham 3-2 on Wednesday with vice-captain Daniel Agger returning to the side in place of the embattled Kolo Toure. The former Gunner, who would have been hoping to make another return to the Emirates Stadium, has made a number of high profile mistakes in the last few weeks and he drops to the bench for the FA Cup clash today.
Keeping with the theme of earlier rounds, Australian ‘keeper Brad Jones is given the nod ahead of first choice shot-stopper Simon Mignolet in net, but besides that, the backline remains the same. Martin Skrtel buddies up to old partner Agger with Jon Flanagan and Aly Cissokho on either side of the pair.
In midfield, Jordan Henderson drops to the bench after having surgery to repair damage on his broken wrist, and he’s replaced by Joe Allen who is making his first start since the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in December. He’ll have captain Steven Gerrard for company and Brazilian Philippe Coutinho in front of him. Up top, it’s the trio of Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez doing the business at the Emirates — and we all know what they’re capable of.
From the bench, Rodgers has ‘keeper Simon Mignolet, defenders Kolo Toure and Martin Kelly, winger Victor Moses, midfielder Jordan Henderson, striker Iago Aspas and youngster Joao Carlos Teixeira.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has rung in the changes with reserve ‘keeper Lukas Fabianski starting in goal. He’ll have Carl Jenkinson, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal holding down the fort in front of him, while Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta look to keep things tidy in the middle of the park.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski are all playing in support to striker Yaya Sanogo, who’s is given the nod ahead of Olivier Giroud. From the bench, Wenger has Italian ‘keeper Emiliano Viviano, Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, midfielder Serge Gnabry and Olivier Giroud.
Be sure to pop by after the match for a full match recap and other assorted odds and ends.