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Time for an Exam - Liverpool v Arsenal Preview

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Liverpool look to silence their doubters in a massive clash with Arsenal.

Alex Livesey

US: 1:30pm ET on NBC

UK: 5:30 pm on Sky Sports 1

It is time for a true test of this squad's abilities and cohesiveness in a huge match against Arsenal this Saturday. Liverpool come into this on the back of a 4-1 drubbing of West Brom, a team that did the double on them last year. Arsenal will be looking to put their loss to Chelsea in the (Insert Sponsor Here) Cup. A team like Arsenal might be dangerous coming off a loss like that, especially considering the strong side they fielded against many of the Chelsea outcasts.

Arsenal have only managed to keep two clean sheets in the league which makes one believe with the form SAS is in the goals will come. On the other hand though, Arsenal have seen a resurgence this year from both Ramsey and Giroud, two players most were more than ready to write off last year. However, Ozil really appears to be the key to this Arsenal squad and the one who makes them tick and has opened it up.

Should Rodgers choose to stick with the 3-5-2, he won't have to contend with Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain, two players whose speed down the wing could expose wingbacks on a counter. Essentially though Lucas will need to shadow Ozil all game long to stymie Arsenal's attacking move. By depriving Arsenal's front of decent service, it should make the defense's job much easier.

However, it might be prudent to return to a 4-3-3 for this match. This formation will give a bit more cover to the defense while still allowing someone to be in Ozil's back pocket. It also keeps Sturridge and Suarez together, allowing them to feed off each other. In addition, Coutinho might be in line for a return, although how fit he'll be remains to be seen. With him playing off of SAS and Gerrard and Lucas shackling Ozil, Liverpool should be able to keep Arsenal's attack at bay while giving their defense fits.

The only real injury for Liverpool is Enrique who is unlikely to return and Aspas who wouldn't have seen the pitch anyways. Arsenal will be without Walcott and Ox, but that is no different than most of this season. They will also be without Flamini as well.

For the neutrals, this should be fantastic. For the supporters, this will be 90 minutes of stomach churning nerves. Let's not lie, I think anyone would be content with a draw right now. Arsenal are as in form as any other team in the league right now, but a couple recent losses outside of the league suggest they might ripe for the picking.

What we'll be looking for:

-This game is massively important as the top four and even the winners will likely be decided by the clashes among the top teams (I don't include United in that since everyone should take points off them). (Adam)

-Liverpool v. Arsenal has quietly been a cracking fixture in recent memory, but the matchup hasn't recieved the type of stage that it will here. Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers will see this game as a golden opportunity, a chance to capitalize on the disappointing start of some of the richer, bluer clubs. This is the type of game I expect to be breathtaking from the beginning, with end to end action and plenty of goals. (loyal2reds)

-It's a classic six pointer, there's no doubt about that. Whoever wins goes top, of course, Arsenal stay top if we don't win, but no one wants to know about that. (JAceKopite)

-A lot of people wanna see Phillipe back... I wouldn't stick him in a match this important just off a lengthy time off. If it had've been a 1-2 week long lay off I would have no qualms, but he's been out for a month. Bring him in as an impact sub if anything. (JAceKopite)

-I'm not a wizard, but I think the 3-5-2 would have a lot of problems in this fixture. I wouldn't mind the 4-2-2-2/4-2-3-1 hybrid we saw for the beginning stretches of the season. (Matt)

-Agreed with JAce, Coutinho is a boss, but 30-35 minutes off of the pine is most likely. So building off the above, I'd a like a CB do drop out and be replaced by either Allen (preferable, could be a 4-3-1-2) or Moses (the 4-2-2-2/4-2-3-1). (Matt)

-Our center back depth is silly, and there are four players deserving of starting slots. Good problems, to have. Is this really Liverpool? (Matt)