Paul Merson has explained the ‘big issue’ Jurgen Klopp must contend with when he takes his Liverpool side to Arsenal on Sunday.
The Reds visit the Emirates for their FA Cup third round clash looking to inflict more misery on Mikel Arteta’s side who are without a win in their last three games.
The Gunners will fancy their chances of progressing in front of their home supporters, however, with Mo Salah and Wataru Endo missing for the visitors while they represent their respective nations and Dominik Szoboszlai ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Former Arsenal favourite Merson believes his former side will come out on top – suggesting Liverpool could feel the impact of Salah’s absence.
“I don’t think Arsenal can afford to lose this one as they are on a bit of a bad run,” Merson told Sportskeeda. “Over the years, they have been renowned for getting eliminated from all the cups in a season and could find themselves in a similar position if they get beaten at home.
“Everyone rests players for the cup games, but when two Top Six teams play against each other, it could be a different story. Liverpool will be without Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo for this one and that could be a big issue for Jurgen Klopp. Salah is on a different level and those are big shoes to fill, but Diogo Jota is a decent player and should slot into the right-wing role in the Egyptian’s absence.
“Egypt have a good squad and should be right up there at the AFCON, meaning Salah could miss 4-5 weeks of action for Liverpool. That said, this isn’t really a game they’d be worried about as it’s a cup fixture. However, Liverpool have crucial Premier League games coming up against the likes of Bournemouth, Chelsea and Arsenal and that’s when Salah’s absence will really be felt.
“The Reds also have a Carabao Cup semi-final against Fulham on the horizon, so they are unlikely to play all their key players for this one. Arsenal are playing at home and face a Liverpool team without Salah, so I fancy them to win this one. Arsenal 2-1.”
Our No. 11 has been in fine form so far this term registering 18 goals and nine assists (across all competitions).
Wataru Endo, meanwhile, has performed superbly in recent weeks and has made the holding midfield role his own with his tough tackling and excellent reading of the game.
The duo’s departures come at a difficult time for Klopp’s side but there will be a number of players coming into the side with a point to prove.
Arteta will be desperate to earn a victory against Liverpool but let’s hope we can come out on top to keep our hopes on all four fronts alive this term.