After our midweek slump against Chelsea, I can think of teams I’d rather play that Liverpool at the moment. Liverpool are in a good run of form, not dissimilar to us and will want to do everything to keep that momentum going. With two defeats in two games at The Emirates, we can’t afford to slip up and make it three in three. I don’t think we played awfully in either game against Dortmund or Chelsea, but that we looked to be lacking a killer instinct in the latter and a bit of calmness in the former and if we are to have a chance against Liverpool we will need to regain both of them. The only positive from the Chelsea game was Santi Cazorla getting ninety minutes under his belt and gaining more match fitness. Crystal Palace played well after Mathieu Flamini got taken off with his injury that has ruled him out of today’s game completely and especially so when Mikel Arteta got sent off forcing Szczesny into a few world class saves. Liverpool will be feeling confident after their 4-0 thrashing of West Brom including a Luis Suarez hatrick and sublime Daniel Sturridge chip. I’m sincerely hoping there isn’t a case of what could have been regarding Suarez, after our attempts to sign him in the Summer came to nothing. I don’t want to see anyone kissing their wrist today, or doing a stupid flailing arm dance either for that matter.
With Liverpool scoring 12 in the last 4 outings, our defence obviously has a job on their hand to keep a clean sheet. I’ve seen several pundits, fans and doubters alike state that Per Mertesacker cannot handle players with pace and that is complete nonsense. We all know that he isn’t quick by any means, but his calm demeanour and defending ability more than compensate and as long as he has Koscielny behind him should anyone nip around him with their pace I have no worries whatsoever. Since his arrival in English Football, Mertesacker has helped to shore up our defence but we cannot seem to keep a clean sheet for our lives. We’ve conceded an average of 1.1 goals a game this season (nine in eight). I don’t worry too much about how many goals we’ve conceded as long as we’re scoring more down the other end; a simple enough analogy and we’ve been scoring plenty so far. Another claim that annoys me is that Borussia Dortmund were our first big test. I remember everyone screaming from the rooftops that Spurs would beat us and they were our first real test until we won that game. Same thing with Napoli and we played the best half of football I’ve seen us play in Europe in some time. So two tough tests with two victories. Two losses against arguably the best side in Europe, Dortmund and arguably the strongest squad in the Premier League, Chelsea and our season has been completely written off and we’re shit again. If you’re going to slag off Arsenal, then fair enough – I can take that on the chin; but be consistent with your approach and praise us when we deserve it.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 12 clashes with Liverpool, winning four and drawing seven.
- Daniel Sturridge has scored a single goal in eight of his (and Liverpool’s) nine league fixtures this season, with Southampton the only team to shut him out.
- Liverpool have hit the woodwork eight times this season and have done so 60 times since August 2011, both Premier League-high figures.
- Arsenal will have Mikel Arteta back from suspension, with the midfielder having served a ban for the red card he picked up against Crystal Palace.
- Midfielder Mathieu Flamini, though, remains sidelined with his groin problem as does Serge Gnabry (ankle), while Theo Walcott is still recovering from minor abdominal surgery.
- Lukas Podolski (hamstring) and Yaya Sanogo (back) are also unavailable, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) and Abou Diaby (knee ligaments) are long-term absentees.
- Liverpool will see their squad boosted by the return to fitness of Philippe Coutinho.
- The Brazilian playmaker required surgery to remedy a shoulder injury, but he has returned to full training and will be included in Rodgers’ matchday squad.
- Jose Enrique remains a doubt having sat out the Reds’ last two fixtures with a knee problem, meaning Aly Cissokho is likely to start at left-back, while Iago Aspas (thigh) and Sebastian Coates (knee ligaments) are some way off a first-team recall.
Potential Lineups –
Arsenal (Possible 4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Kosclieny, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere; Ramsey, Cazorla, Özil; Giroud.
Liverpool (Possible, 3-1-4-2): Mignolet; Touré, Skrtel, Sakho; Lucas; Johnson, Henderson, Gerrard, Cissokho; Suárez, Sturridge.
I’m going to go for a 2-1 Arsenal win. As I said earlier, we have a habit of conceding but I think we’ll be right up for the challenge today. Olivier Giroud is in the form of his life and I can’t see him not giving Sakho a torrid time. With Cazorla gaining fitness again his link up play with Cazorla and Giroud will be crucial. Mikel Arteta back in midfield is another positive for me, apart from Flamini he’s the only player fully capable of playing DM as effectively for me.
COME ON THE ARSENAL.