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Liverpool to beat Arsenal 2-1 tonight at Anfield: John Barnes

Published on Feb 8, 2014 3:18 PM
Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring a goal against Everton at Anfield on Jan 28, 2014. An in-form Suarez will be one of the key factors to a Liverpool win against Arsenal on Saturday night, according to former Reds legend John Barnes. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

A strong home record, a strike force on fire and a player reborn will be the key factors to a Liverpool win against Arsenal on Saturday night, according to former Reds legend John Barnes.

Brendan Rodgers' fourth-placed Reds will host Arsene Wenger's table toppers and even though Liverpool have not beaten the Gunners in the English Premier League at home for almost seven years, Barnes believes the Merseysiders will win 2-1 in one of the season's defining fixtures.

"Where is this game played at?" he posed a mock question with a smile. "It's Anfield and Liverpool can win 2-1. These are two teams playing with confidence right now and doing much better than what their fans expected at the beginning of the season."

In 12 home matches, Liverpool's only blemish was a 1-0 defeat by Southampton in September.

Now 50, Barnes is regarded as one of Liverpool's finest players having ruled the left wing in the 1980s, before moving on to a central midfield role in the 1990s.

He lauds both Arsenal and his former club for dishing out entertaining football, he predicts tonight's clash will be one that will showcase the strengths of each team.

"Liverpool's strength is their attack and while Arsenal lack firepower, they have a dominant midfield," he noted.

"Rodgers has Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling to choose from but I think he will only play with three of them up front. Olivier Giroud is not an out-and-out striker but his midfielders dominate possession.

"The question now is whether Liverpool can supply their forwards with enough balls."

The former England international was at the Courts Megastore to meet fans, including ST readers.

And another aspect of Liverpool's season that pleased him is the form of young midfielder Jordan Henderson.

Barnes heaped praise on the 23-year-old, singling him out as the Reds' other standout performer apart from strikers Suarez and Sturridge, saying: "Henderson has been outstanding. When he first came to the club, he looked a bit lost and was under a lot of pressure.

"But Brendan has given him instructions on how he wants him to play. You can see that he is benefiting from the manager's philosophy. Henderson's a completely differently player now."