Liverpool take on Arsenal at the Emirates stadium tomorrow night in what is the Reds’ game in hand on Manchester City. Victory will see Jürgen Klopp’s side move to within one point of top spot. Here’s how we think they will line up for the encounter.

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This fixture has taken on extra significance since Crystal Palace held Guardiola’s outfit to a goalless draw last night. It presents Liverpool with the opportunity to move to within one point of City with nine games to go. It is a position that was unthinkable just two months ago when the Reds trailed the Citizens by 13 points.

An eight match winning streak has seen Klopp’s side chip away at that chasm to now potentially be within a result of going top of the table. To capitalise on City’s latest slip up, the Reds have to beat an in-form Arsenal infront of a raucous Emirates.

It is no mean feat, and it is a boost to hear Jürgen Klopp report Salah’s return to training today after picking up a knock against Brighton. Milner and Tsimikas have both been ruled out with illness, whilst Ibou Konaté is back available after a brief spell on the sidelines.

Picking the XI for this latest must win clash is not straightforward. There have been signs of fatigue amongst the players in recent weeks and the manager could seek to freshen things up with a couple of changes to his side.

In goal, Alisson Becker will continue and hope to keep the recent run of clean sheets going. Ahead of him, the back four is likely to remain the same. Trent, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson have been the first choice backline throughout the season and have contributed greatly to the recent run of shutouts.

Gomez and Konaté will provide further options on the bench, with Joe’s ability to cover at both full back positions certain to see him make the matchday squad in the abscence of Milner and Tsimikas. The 24 year old has suffered the ignominy of being completely left out of matchday squads recently.

In midfield, Jürgen Klopp has an array of options available. Fabinho is once again an absolute must infront of the defence. He will be coming up directly against Odegaard who has been in sizzling form over the past few weeks.

Alongside the Brazilian will be two of Henderson, Keita and Thiago. Or the gaffer could throw a curve ball and go for either one of Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain or Elliott. The latter option is unlikely given what is riding on this encounter.

The skipper is another who will be crucial on the night. His running power and intensity will be handy against the double pivot of Partey and Xhaka. Thiago could join the skipper in what many believe is our best midfield trio.

Klopp named this trio for the League Cup final but Thiago pulled up with a hamstring strain in the warmup and Naby had to slot in. The Spanish international looked sharp off the bench against Brighton and could be set for his first league start since the 6-0 demolishing of Leeds United.

In attack, Salah’s fitness will be of particular concern. The Egyptian was passed fit for training this afternoon but whether he came out of that unscathed is unknown. It might be a case of gritting his teeth through any pain to do a job for the team.

His absence always causes a bit of jiggery pokery as to who plays on the right wing. Jota doesn’t seem comfortable out there, and you wouldn’t want to move Diaz off the left in the form he’s in. Mané is an option but he’s currently doing a job down the middle.

If Salah is fit, he plays. It’s quite as simple as that. That then leaves two more slots left. Diaz is the man in form and should get another go. He will relish the personal duel against Cedric Soares at right back. It is then a choice between Mané, Jota and Firmino for who starts through the middle.

All three have an excellent record against the Gunners and offer different traits in that role. Firmino’s close control and link up play, Jota’s runs in behind and predatory instincts, or Mané’s adaptation of the role that sees him combine a bit of both.

If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say Jota will get the nod. Simply for the fact he scored a brace at the Emirates recently and even though he started on the left wing that day, made a number of excellent runs in behind the Gunners’ backline to latch onto long balls from Trent especially.

The two of them had struck up something of an understanding till Jota picked up an injury. It will be as good a time as any to rekindle that connection. That makes for two changes from the side that beat Brighton, with Keita and Mané dropping out for Thiago and Jota.

Predicted team:

Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago, Salah, Jota, Diaz.

Subs: Kelleher, Gomez, Konaté, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Firmino, Minamino, Mané.


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