Arsenal host Liverpool in a sizzling Premier League encounter at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The Gunners are five points behind Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders in third place and looking for revenge after the Reds knocked them out of the FA Cup at the same venue last month.
Both teams are in good form, with Liverpool extending their unbeaten league run to 15 games in Wednesday’s 4-1 home win against Chelsea. Meanwhile, Arsenal have beaten Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest in their last two top-flight outings.
Diogo Jota to continue ‘surfing the wave’ at his favourite away ground?
There were more than a few fears regarding Liverpool’s ability to sustain their title charge once Mohamed Salah left for the Africa Cup of Nations. However, Klopp’s men haven’t missed a beat thanks, largely, to the form of Diogo Jota.
The Portugal international has been on fire recently, hitting five goals and three assists in eight appearances across all competitions since Boxing Day, the most amazing thing being that he’s only started half of those matches.
Up next for Liverpool is a trip to Jota’s favourite away ground: the Emirates, where he’s scored five goals as a visiting player to date, no player has managed more. In fact, across his entire career, Jota has more direct goal involvements against Arsenal (10, 8g/2a) than any other opponent.
Klopp described Jota as the ‘complete package’ during his Friday press conference and backed the former Wolves forward to continue ‘surfing the wave’.
“He’s a complete package. He knows that and we know that. He gets a few injuries at the wrong time, and a few too many as well. Unlucky. He gets knocks all of the time in each game in a crazy way,” Klopp told reporters.
“If you go through all of the medical reports over the years that Diogo is here he has been in all them. Not injured, but bruises, a knock, has that, has that. He gets so many knocks in matches. He has been out too long otherwise his numbers would look very different.
“He was in good shape before he got injured and now he is literally flying in the moment, he looks fresh and explosive. On top of that he is always an extremely smart footballer.
“From the moment I saw him at Wolves, I was excited about his potential. Can play all three positions upfront which is special when Mohamed Salah is not here. That is how it is with strikers when you are doing well. You surf the wave and that’s what he’s doing. His goal against Chelsea was an unbelievable goal.”
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Arsenal v Liverpool team news
Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey has returned to training and could be in the squad. Gabriel Jesus is expected to overcome a knee issue to play, while Emile Smith Rowe may keep his place ahead of Kai Havertz.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is improving after a hamstring injury, but is still sidelined and Klopp may opt to go with more experience in defence now Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are available again, although young Conor Bradley has impressed.
Alexis Mac Allister picked up a minor knee issue against Chelsea but should be available.
Arsenal v Liverpool predicted line-ups
Arsenal: Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Rice, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Saka, Martinelli, Jesus
Liverpool: Allison; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Jones; Jota, Nunez, Diaz