• Sadio Mane expected to return after missing the win at Bournemouth.
  • Mohamed Salah reached 20 goals for the season at the Vitality Stadium.
  • IBTimes UK predicts one change from the win on the south coast.

After being involved in 98 goals in just 27 games in all competitions, the 'Liverpool entertainment roadshow' – a showcase you feel would be more fitting of Atomic Kitten than The Beatles – rolls on to the Emirates Stadium to face an Arsenal side who themselves have lurched from one inconsistent result to another.

Victory over Bournemouth may have seen the Reds project themselves as the swashbuckling side who have averaged nearly two-and-a-half goals a game, but as results in Sevilla and at Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have proven in each of the last three months, a defensive calamity is only around the corner.

Predicting a Liverpool starting XI this season under tinkerman Jurgen Klopp is only marginally more difficult than forecasting the outcome of a social function involving the England cricket team. Klopp has used the lead up to the festive period as an opportunity to rotate where possible, with his attack having been reconstructed multiple times.

At least at the back it remains largely predictable for the Merseysiders. Simon Mignolet has started 14 of the last 15 Premier League games since being left out for the 4-0 win over Arsenal in August and is the established number one ahead of Loris Karius.

Due to injury to Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan is the current partner for Dejan Lovren at centre-back with the Croatia international having seemingly recovered from that horrible display against Tottenham at Wembley, which saw him hooked at half-time.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez have been rotated at right-back for much of the campaign but the latter tends to be deployed for the clashes with big-name opposition, having featured against Manchester United, Spurs, Chelsea and Everton. Alberto Moreno's ankle injury has presented an opportunity to Andrew Robertson at left-back.

Captain, leader, legend Jordan Henderson might not be, but he is a mainstay of the Liverpool midfield having only missed three league games this season. Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum is his most regular partner in a midfield two and he represents a more solid alternative to the often dopey Emre Can.

That Can, who is in the middle of a contract wrangle with the club amid speculation he could join Juventus in January, will be omitted altogether is uncertain. Klopp may feel an extra man in the middle can help nullify the threat of the in-form Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez, who has the tendency to drop deep when Arsenal are starved of possession in the attacking third.

Liverpool vs Arsenal
Getty Images

Nevertheless, Liverpool's thrashing of the Gunners at the start of the campaign and 4-3 success on the opening weekend of last term suggests the hosts are there to be got at and Klopp may be rewarded for ditching pragmatism.

Unlike Arsenal, who took on West Ham United in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday (19 December) the Anfield club will have had nearly a whole week to prepare for the game in north London and with Swansea City, Leicester City and Burnley to come over the Christmas and New Year period Klopp should allow his Fab Four to fly.

Amid all the rotation, Mohamed Salah has been a mainstay under Klopp and with 20 goals this season he is undeniably irreplaceable. Sadio Mane may be the most out-of-form of the quartet but his omission against Bournemouth at least means he is all but guaranteed to start on a ground where he scored on his Liverpool debut last season.

Philippe Coutinho has only started 10 Premier League games and was even left out against Everton, but is surely indispensable, leaving Klopp with a decision to make over who will lead his attack or supply his forward line.

Roberto Firmino was also rested against Everton but there is a feeling the aforementioned trio operate far better when he can act as the pivot. Nevertheless, as he showed against West Bromwich Albion, he is not yet the clutch finisher some of his predecessors in the number nine shirt were for Liverpool, though he does have four goals in five appearances against Friday's opponents.

Alternatives come in the form of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has overcome a rough transition since his deadline day move from Arsenal, the fit-again Adam Lallana – though a start may come too soon as he recovers from missing the start of the season – and Dominic Solanke whose movement can cause Arsenal's creaking defence problems.

Sadio Mane and Jurgen Klopp
Mane has scored against Arsenal home and away during his 18 months at Liverpool. Getty Images