Saturday, 8 February 2014

Arsenal's Trip To Liverpool Previewed

Arsenal are top of the league again after Chelsea won away to City on Monday night. They are coming into a very testing run of four games which could make or break their season and that run starts away to Liverpool in the league today. They follow that game with a home league game against United, Liverpool at home in the FA Cup and then the home leg of their Champions League round of 16 against Bayern Munich.

The team news for Arsenal is a little more positive than last week with Jack Wilshere set to return to the squad after recovering from his ankle injury. Mikel Arteta picked up a slight knock in the 2-0 win over Palace on Sunday, but he seems to have recovered and is available too. With Mathieu Flamini into the second game of his three game ban it's important for Arteta to stay fit.

I don't imagine there will be too many changes from the team which beat Palace. The defence more or less picks itself when everybody is fit with the exception of the left back slot which is up for grabs between Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal. My personal favourite is Gibbs but it seems to be operating on a "what you have you hold" basis for the moment and Monreal is the man in possession of the shirt. Gibbs lost his place due to injury and he might have to wait a while to get a chance to reclaim it although the chances are he will get a run against Liverpool in the cup next weekend.

I expect Wilshere to come back into the midfield as long as he's up to it which would probably see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain switch to one of the flanks. He was the hero and man of the match against Palace with two fine goals and has to be in the team. That should mean there is no place for either Serge Gnabry or Lukas Podolski and I'm not sure which one of them will miss out.

Gnabry has been impressive since getting into the team and he could find more room to play in against a Liverpool team who will surely try to attack Arsenal. On the other hand Podolski is vastly experienced and a proven goalscorer whose contribution could be vital in this game. It's a hard one to call but I'll be happy with whoever is picked as they both have a lot to offer.

That would leave no place for Tomas Rosicky in the team and he's a player who might just make the difference for Arsenal if he plays. His ability to get among the opposition and go at them with the ball at speed could be just what Arsenal need to take the game to Liverpool. I have a feeling Arsenal can win this game in midfield like they did when Liverpool came to them a couple of months ago. 

Liverpool simply couldn't cope with Arsenal that day in midfield and their striking duo could do very little when starved of possession. I haven't been overly impressed with Liverpool in recent weeks and their defence in particular looks very vulnerable. If Arsenal can play the game with some real tempo I think Liverpool will struggle and give up quite a few chances.

Like any big game it could depend on the ability to put those chances away and there is no doubting the finishing skill of both Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool. Arsenal could dominate from start to finish and still lose to some magic from either of them. It's up to Arsenal not to give the ball to Liverpool so their strikers are starved of possession and chances. 

When it comes to defending Arsenal have to face the player in the Premier League most likely to pull an opponent in his penalty area. Martin Skrtel gets away on an almost weekly basis with challenges which are such obvious fouls that it's almost unbelievable. I don't hold out much hope of him being called for it though if Palace got away with this challenge on Olivier Giroud last week.


Arsenal most certainly have the players to go to Liverpool and dominate the game and I think they will do just that. With their strong defensive base they should have the platform to set themselves up to win the game as long as they can take the chances that come their way. I'm sure Liverpool will try to counter Arsenal and have a bigger say in the game than they had in the reverse fixture, but it's up to the Arsenal players to make sure that doesn't happen.

I'm not saying a victory at Anfield would make Arsenal favourites for the title or that a defeat would put them out of the running as either opinion is a little extreme. A win might just be what is needed to help propel the team towards that title and especially if they can follow it up with a win against United in midweek. If Arsenal are still sitting on top of the Premier League on Thursday morning I have no doubt their title odds will have shortened. It's a great position for the team to be in and one which few fans could have imagined at the start of the season. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Think you'll be in for a nasty surprise today..Lpool at Anfield have been v v impressive & will create chances..Arsenal, despite getting wins have struggled since xmas..mediocre sides taking them all the way..we'll see..

    1. I can't say I've been overly impressed with Liverpool at home or away, but their ability to score goals has made them look an awful lot better. The only side Arsenal dropped points to since Christmas Soutthampton but I can recall Liverpool drawing at home to Villa and looking far from impressive at West Brom last week.

  2. Go Arsenal Go !!!
    Be a the winner