Saturday 3 December 2016

Arsenal and Liverpool - a combined XI of crocks

Jack Wilshere has to settle for a place on the bench

Published 13/01/2016 | 13:03

From left: Daniel Sturridge, Alexis Sanchez and Philippe Coutinho
From left: Daniel Sturridge, Alexis Sanchez and Philippe Coutinho

There will be plenty of talent on show at Anfield tonight as Liverpool face Arsenal - but arguably the best players of all will be sitting watching in the stands due to injury.

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Here's a composite XI - and seven-strong substitutes' bench - of missing stars...

Goalkeeper: David Ospina (groin)

Not the most auspicious of goalkeepers for our crocks XI, perhaps, but Ospina's form in the second half of last season - when he briefly became Arsenal's best ever Premier League goalkeeper in terms of clean sheet percentage - suggests he is not completely without value.

Right-back: Joe Gomez (knee)

Liverpool's summer signing from Charlton had made a very bright start to life at Anfield, which made his serious knee injury which ruled him out for the rest of the season all the more cruel. Has time on his side, though, and should come back next year.

Centre back: Martin Skrtel (hamstring)

The Slovakian centre-half was ruled out for six weeks after tearing his hamstring and tendon in the defeat at Watford.

Centre back: Dejan Lovren (hamstring)

Has had no luck with injuries in recent weeks. After suffering a horrible looking gash in his leg courtesy of a nasty tackle by West Brom's Craig Gardner in December, he then pulled a hamstring at Stoke in the Capital One Cup.

Left-back: Jon Flanagan (match fitness)

Has not played a game for Liverpool since May 2014, missing the whole of last year with ruptured knee ligaments. Is now back in training and playing for the under-21 squad, so a first team return should not be too far away.

Centre midfield: Jordan Henderson (foot)

Forced off in the game against Sunderland, having only just returned from a heel problem and a fracture in his foot.

Centre midfield: Francis Coquelin (knee)

Suffered a ligament injury in the 2-1 defeat at West Brom and is not expected back until February, hastening Arsene Wenger's search for midfield cover in the January transfer window.

Right attack: Santi Cazorla (knee)

Damaged his ligaments in the draw at Norwich and was ruled out initally until February; now, there are fears the lay-off could stretch into March.

Attacking midfield: Philippe Coutinho (hamstring)

The Brazilian is another victim of Liverpool's hamstring curse, having hurt himself during the Capital One Cup tie at Stoke. Not expected back until February.

Left attack: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring)

Injured his hamstring against Norwich before Christmas, when he was selected despite clearly not looking fully fit. He has been missed since, but should be available this weekend for the trip to Stoke.

Central striker: Daniel Sturridge

Liverpool's biggest injury headache, as they know full well that a top four finish would be much closer to hand with a fit and firing Sturridge leading their line. Has been plagued by hamstring, knee and ankle problems all season.

SUBSTITUTES

Jack Wilshere (ankle)

Danny Welbeck (knee)

Jordon Ibe (hamstring)

James Milner (calf)

Tomas Rosicky (knee)

Divock Origi (knee)

Danny Ings (knee)

Telegraph.co.uk

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