Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Five Aside [Print without images]

Friday, March 2, 2012
Liverpool vs. Arsenal preview


Robin van Persie
If van Persie is fit enough to play, could he continue the Gunners' good form vs. Liverpool?

Liverpool sits seventh in the table as Arsenal comes to town Saturday morning (7:45 a.m. ET, live on ESPN2 & ESPN3) while the Gunners are fourth, holding the last Champions League spot over Chelsea on goal difference.

Here are five notes for the showdown at Anfield...

•  One trophy drought ended last weekend as another will likely continue. Liverpool needed penalty kicks to defeat Cardiff City in Sunday's Carling Cup final, handing the Merseyside club its first title since the 2006 FA Cup. Meanwhile, Arsenal's trophy chances this season appear bleak as the Gunners sit 17 points behind Premier League leader Manchester City, and also trail AC Milan 4-0 entering the 2nd Leg of the Champions League Round of 16. This will likely be Arsenal's seventh straight season without a title, the club's longest drought since 1987.

•  Arsenal has had Liverpool's number in recent years, losing only one of the last nine meetings. But that defeat was at Emirates in August, a 2-0 defeat following an Aaron Ramsey own goal and a Luis Suarez insurance strike. Liverpool now seeks its first season sweep of Arsenal in 12 years.

•  Along with Manchester City, Liverpool is one of two teams unbeaten at home in league games this season. But while City has won all 13 matches, Liverpool is only 4-0-8. The eight draws match Liverpool's season high in the Premier League era. The Reds last drew more than eight games at home in 1970-71, when they had 10 home ties and finished fifth.

•  Liverpool's biggest issue this season has been converting scoring opportunities into goals. According to Opta, the Reds have scored on a league-low 8.6 percent of their shots from chances created this season. (Wigan are second-worst with 9.2 pct, and QPR third with 10.2 pct.) Among the top five leagues in Europe, only Kaiserslautern and Cesena have worse conversion rates, and those clubs sit in the bottom two of the Bundesliga and Serie A respectively.

•  For Arsenal, Robin van Persie has had no such problem finishing his chances, leading the league with 23 goals this season. He has 43.4 percent of Arsenal's 53 goals, the highest rate in the league. The last Arsenal player with 30 goals in a season was Emmanuel Adebayor four years ago.