So, it’s back to Anfield for us then.
This is a ground with some very mixed fortunes in our history. Anfield 89 stands out, of course. Some of our best league wins in the Wenger-winning period were at Anfield – Pires’s curlers were grand, as was Henry skinning his former Sky pundit buddy Carragher in a 2007 FA Cup tie.
Lately, we’ve been beaten pretty soundly at Anfield lately, and coinciding with how they’ve risen under Klopp. Liverpool’s fast-paced and energetic style has been at full odds with how we’ve played lately, and our increasing defensive woes under Wenger and then Emery. We haven’t been able to cope well with their top-level front three, and it’s been a perfect storm of woe for us.
Our last win there was in 12/13, in Brendan Rodgers’s first season, and it saw the first goals for Arsenal for Podolski and our perpetually smiling hero Santi Cazorla. Can we win again?
Liverpool back when we last won were in a hole – as we have been lately. But now they’re on top of the world, literally. They may not be reigning European Champions anymore. But they won the Club World Cup so can still rightly call themselves Club World Champions.
And they’re also on top in England – with their first league in 30 years.
Given our recent record there and the comparative difference in quality between the sides, personally, I’m not very confident I must admit.
There are some points though that could factor in this game:
– Recent wins
Much has been said of the Community Shield win. And also the league home win last season. That league win was our first over Liverpool in five years, and whilst the Community Shield is the least valued of the official major trophies, we did play well and held our own for all of the game. We have shown how we can play here against a very good side, but then we have to question how seriously Liverpool took both the league game and the Community Shield.
That said, they can provide templates and confidence for us, so they are something to build on.
Liverpool defended well at Chelsea, but was poor vs. Leeds. Yes, they won both games, but even in the league win last season they really gifted us tw goals via defensive errors.
Allison is a world-class keeper, but he’s not perfect. He can thus be exposed and they should be fearful of our attack.
The same is true of van Dijk. He’s made some key errors lately, and whilst he’s arguably the best CB on Earth right now, he can be got at.
Trent-Alexander Arnold is good offensively, but defensively can be off point somewhat.
I believe our pace upfront can hurt them, for sure.
However, our defence needs to be on point.
Salah, Firmino, and Mane are world-class as individuals and a collective. They’ve all contributed to our bad defeats in recent years at Anfield, and it goes without saying we need to watch them.
Jota too, whilst not prolific, is a good player and will add depth to them. He’s done well against us at Wolves, so we’ll need to watch for him too.
We have got a new structure defensively, but it’s not perfect. Luiz may be back here – and we need no errors. No shirt-pulling on Salah again, kindly…
In actual fact the Brazilian might not regain his shirt today as if Tierney is fit, I see him vital on the left of the three, with AMN reprising is Community Shield role at LWB.
All of our defenders need to be on point. Klopp has praised our new defensive resolve, compared to the past few years, but then he knows we’re still vulnerable and will use his attack to expose us.
– City losing
As I write, City lost amazingly to Leicester 5-2, and as the presumed major rival this would give Liverpool a boost.
They would want to make a mark and show that they’re still on top.
We need to watch for this reaction – as I’m sure Liverpool’s fans, players, and Klopp himself would want a strong reaction to this.
The midfield battle will be interesting here.
Thiago is world-class and incidentally played in our 5-1 hammerings to Bayern.
He will boost their midfield no end, and we need to close them down, deny them space, and realise they won’t be as hard-working as they were before.
Captain Henderson is out for them, and it could boost Liverpool overall this season to have Thiago’s edge.
I can see us playing a back three as normal, but I feel pace up top is key here. If Auba can expose their half-spaces, and Pepe can take on Robertson and perhaps play a freer role, we may have some joy at least.
Liverpool’s formation is pretty static in a 433/4231 hybrid. Salah and Mane will have starting right/left positions but in reality they are fluid and move around. It’s imperative we watch them at all times.
Luiz is an able header, to give him credit, and even with Thiago’s creativity, they’ll still utilise Trent and Robertson to get crosses in.
I’m tempted to play Willian here, as whilst Pepe has evident talent, Willian is a harder worker and we need him to cover in the attacking midfield, press, and also be active in the final third.
Liverpool are evidently better than we are.
But then even if we do lose, I don’t want a trouncing.
I want us to be competitive – and if we do lose, then it’s to match them in effort and desire.
They may dominate possession, of course. But I just want us to be resolute and not fold.
Even a slapping wouldn’t damage our season, as one defeat cannot stop us from getting top four or winning the Europa League.
But it can build confidence, and show that we after, perhaps, after years, learning some lessons.
I want a big six away win this season. Can it be at Liverpool? Let’s show we can give them a fight as it stands.
Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal
They’re better than us, with better players in most positions. The minimum I expect is a showing, and making a good account of ourselves. Even if we do lose, I want a valiant and competent defeat – and not an absolute debasement.
MarbleHallsTV is an Arsenal social media account on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Been a Gooner since the 90s, inspired by Ian Wright, then Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Campbell, Rosicky, Koscielny, Ozil and Sanchez. A digital marketer/entrpreneur by profession, born in UK living in the Americas now.