Monday, 24 August 2015

Arsenal v Liverpool Preview

Arsenal bounced back from the opening day disappointment against West Ham by winning away to Palace last Sunday. It was a game they had to win with City starting so impressively and with Chelsea struggling to win points and shipping loads of goals. It's going to be a long hard season for all of the teams hoping to challenge for the title and it's important not to let any team get too far ahead and to press home any possible advantage over any of the other teams.

City have started so well that they already look like the team to beat while Chelsea have struggled, but they will come good and will be right up there too. United are still unbeaten and haven't conceded a goal either, but I haven't been impressed with them at all and they will have to improve an awful lot if they are going to challenge. The other team besides Arsenal hoping to challenge for the title is Liverpool and we'll get a chance to see how serious that challenge might be when they visit Arsenal tonight.

I can't say I've been impressed with Liverpool so far either and they have a long way to go to reach the level of a team who have title aspirations. They have won their opening two games though even if Lady Luck has shined on them in those games and they kept clean sheets in both of those games too. A trip to Arsenal tonight will be a lot tougher than their previous games, but those victories will have given them some confidence.

Liverpool have sold their best player this summer and last summer too and have tried to reinvest the money from those sales to make their team better. Of course they didn't want to sell either Luis Suarez or Raheem Sterling, but when players want to leave it's very hard for any club to keep them. I don't think the players they signed last summer went any way towards improving their team and it remains to be seen if the ones signed this summer will have the desired effect.

Christian Benteke looks like he will at least bring them some of the goals they were missing last season after Suarez was sold and Daniel Sturridge spent almost the entire season injured. Whether they have the players to supply Benteke with enough chances is another question and I'm not so sure they do. I think the best Liverpool can hope for is fourth and their defence will have a big part to play in their chances of finishing there.

They have kept clean sheets in their first two games and limited their opponents to very few chances, but Arsenal will give them a lot more problems tonight. Benteke has done well for Vilła in the past against Arsenal and he certainly has the pace to cause them problems on the break. I would imagine Liverpool will try to sit deep and defend while trying to hit Arsenal on the break at any and every opportunity.

That's nothing new for Arsenal of course as it's the standard practice for most clubs coming to play them. The tactic worked perfectly for West Ham in the opening game, but they were helped by defensive errors from Arsenal too. Arsenal just didn't turn up for that game and they will have to play an awful lot better against Liverpool.

Arsenal were an awful lot better in winning away to Palace last week and the attitude and commitment they showed in that game are exactly what's needed in every single game. They simply can't afford to have an off day or be off the pace as any team in the Premier League are capable of taking advantage of any team which isn't at the races. West Ham looked so good against Arsenal, but they have lost at home to Leicester and Bournemouth since then.

In team news there are no players returning to the squad to add to those who were available for the Palace game last week, but crucially there are no new injuries to report either. I would imagine there will be very little change from the team which beat Palace and the most likely starting line up will be the one which started that game. Players such as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may feel they should be in the team, but hopefully that will make them try even harder when a chance comes their way.

It looks like Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck will be back after the international break to add to the players looking to play week in and week out and the headaches for Arsene Wenger will increase. They're headaches he will be delighted to have of course and they should make the team stronger and more competitive. 

I think Arsenal have the players and the know how to get the three points tonight as they showed against Liverpool last season. They beat them easily at the Emirates in the league and showed up Liverpool's defensive deficiencies. I don't think Liverpool's defence is any better than it was then despite two clean sheets do far and I hope Arsenal can show it up for what I think it is.

Of course they have to be wary of the threat posed by Liverpool, but having Akexis Sanchez in the team again is such a boost for the players and fans. He still has a bit to go to be at full fitness, but he showed last week how much he has to offer and how much the team needs him. He's the player Liverpool will be afraid of and he's the one most likely to make the breakthrough for Arsenal.

I'd love a thrilling display from Arsenal where they blow Liverpool away and lay down a marker for the other teams challenging for the title. I'll gladly take a win no matter how it comes though as the three points are just so important in every single game. Arsenal did well at home in particular to the other teams at the top of the league last season and they need more of the same this season.

If they can get at the Liverpool defence from the start I think chances will come their way and hopefully they can take those chances as soon as possible. They can't do what they did against West Ham and lose concentration either side of half time and throw two stupid goals away. If they give Liverpool something to build on it could be a very tough night and they just cannot afford to do that. 

I'm hoping the lessons of that West Ham game have been learned even if this team has a history of forgetting lessons of the past. I think they will put in a performance which Liverpool will find it difficult to cope with and will win by a couple of goals once they can put away the chances they make. A win could see Arsenal move up to as high as fourth place which would be a good return after that terrible result on the opening day. Let's the hope the players can realise how important those three points are and go out to put in a performance which will win them.

As usual this season my fantasy league is up and running again and it's open to all comers with a €50 prize (out of my pocket) to the winner. You can join up by using the league code 48497-14043 after you have set your team up here and good luck to all who play. There were over 1,000 teams in my league last season and there's already more than that signed up for this season.

I'm also running my Predictions League again this season and it's very enjoyable even if there's no cash prize for the winner. The code for my league is FD757-ARR after you have signed up here and of course both games are completely free to play. 

Tha's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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