Friday, 3 March 2017

Arsenal's Trip To Liverpool Previewed

It's been a bad few weeks for Arsenal with Champions League elimination almost certainly guaranteed and any realistic chance of winning the Premier League gone too. They still have the FA Cup in their sights and their pride left to play for in the Champions League, but it's Premier League business that concerns them at Liverpool tomorrow. They're still just about in the top four, but things are so tight at the top that anything from second to sixth is a realistic finish tor them this season.

One of their issues for far too long now has been their away form against the other top sides and it has been no different this season. They were dreadful away to Chelsea and lost 3-1 while they weren't much better away to United, but they managed to sneak a late draw. They actually started well away to City and led 1-0, but things went rapidly downhill as the game followed an all too familiar pattern and City came back to win 2-1. They still have to travel to Spurs, but first of all it's a trip to Anfield for the Saturday evening game.

On the face of it Liverpool are in a worse state than Arsenal with only one win in seven league games and an FA Cup exit at home to Championship side Wolves. They have played a game more than Arsenal and are still just about behind them in the league and it's the perfect opportunity to severely dent their top four ambitions. Their only win came in an excellent display against second placed Spurs recently and they have a great record against the rest of the top six teams this season.

They won away to Arsenal on the opening day of the season after trailing 1-0 in a game where both teams did their best to lose the game and Arsenal's defence won out as they were marginally worse. Since then they have played six other matches against the rest of the top six and they are still unbeaten with a return of 15 points from their seven games.They have more points per game against the rest of the top six than they have against the rest of the league which is an incredible statistic really.

When you look at Arsenal's record against the rest of the top six it makes depressing reading with only five points from six games and four of their last 13 games against those teams. Their only win was at home to Chelsea in what was probably their best performance of the season so far. That game gave Chelsea the impetus they needed to change their formation and they haven't looked back since then with 17 wins in 20 games as they seem to be running away with the league. Isn't just typical of Arsenal that their best performance of the season might well be what causes Chelsea to win the league.

It seems like Liverpool find it easier to play against teams who come out and play against them and struggle at times against teams who shut up shop. Arsenal certainly won't shut up shop as it's something they're simply not capable of as they have shown all too often. When they do decide to play defensively they don't close their opponents down quickly enough and seem content just to get bodies behind the ball.

Liverpool have their own defensive issues though and the right choices by Arsene Wenger should see him pick a team who can get behind their defence and get chances to score. With that in mind I would like to see Danny Welbeck and Lucas Perez play from the start, but Olivier Giroud might be better saved for another day even if he might get some joy in the air against a defence which is worse than ours. The chances are we will see Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott get the nod though and we will see too much of what just hasn't worked recently.

If Mesut Ozil is fit to play he can open up their defence even when he's not at his best and a central midfield partnership of Granit Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would offer some good passing from deep if and when the Liverpool defence push up. It can't all be about holding on to the ball and gradually building against a team who have been shown to be so vulnerable on the break so often and who will push forward. The chances are there will be plenty of chances at both ends and we need to be the ones who make the most of the ones which come our way.

Only Chelsea have scored more goals at home than Liverpool, but they have conceded more goals than any other team in the top eight even if their defensive record at home isn't too bad. No other team has more away goals than Arsenal and the chances are we could be in for a game full of goals like the game earlier this season. 

If Arsenal are going to get something from the game they need to be switched on from first minute to last and every player has to be prepared to give his all while they're out there. Too much has been made of our mental strength or lack of and our lack of confidence against the rest of the top six due to our poor results against them. The players have had almost two weeks off from playing before the game and they have to arrive into it fit and raring to go.

Anything else would be a damning indictment on the manager and them too and bring his future into even more doubt. The fans can't continue to be fed the same inept performances and inept excuses and expect nothing to change and the only way to at least quiten the doubters (including me) is for the players to show they want to play for him and play with some confidence and style. I'm not so sure they can do that and a draw wouldn't be the worst result at all, but a win is really what's needed to maybe give the season the boost it so badly needs.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Arsenal under Wenger doesn't believe in anti soccer. No wonder he always loses against the top teams.Which unner fan can forget the 8-2/6-0/6-3/5-1 losses 2 seasons ago.
    The foxes beat Pool despite having less possession . The problem with the fm is he thinks he can do no wrong.Well unless he can start winning against Pool/Mc and the others,
    I say thanks for the memory