As it stands we’re fifth in the league and only a point behind Liverpool going into this game against them and any place up as far as second is there to play for. If we’re going to have a chance of catching the teams above us our away form is going to have to drastically improve and our home form has to hold too. That home form is what is keeping us in touch with the top four with eight wins from nine games and the defeat to United as the only blotch on our copybook.
We have already won at home to Spurs and both Chelsea and City have to visit us too. The results in those games will go a long way to deciding our fate this season and we need to get the three points in the first of them tonight. The defeat at City a few weeks ago didn’t seem to do any damage to our confidence, but the hone defeat to United seems to have had an effect on the players. They need to put that behind them tonight and put in a performance that shows that not only can they finish in the top four, but also that they believe they can do it.
As good as our results have been at home the performances haven’t always matched them and Liverpool are a team who can and will take advantage of any slips tonight. They have won their last four away games and scored 16 goals in those victories, but none of them were against teams as good as Arsenal. They have conceded a lot of goals away from home this season and that has to give us plenty of hope for tonight.
In the reverse fixture back in August we were absolutely awful and probably more than a little lucky to only lose 4-0. The team was all wrong that day and so was the attitude from far too many players, but we won’t see the same team tonight for a few reasons. Having said that I would expect only four changes from that team despite having most of our squad to pick from.
The notable absentees are Shkodran Mustafi and Aaron Ramsey with Olivier Giroud injured too and of course Santi Cazorla has been out for more than a year now. Arsene Wenger picked his team to accommodate Alec Oxlade-Chamberlain that day and he repaid him with an awful performance and by joining Liverpool almost immediately after the match. His inclusion at right wing back meant Hector Bellerin played on the left while Alexandre Lacazette was left on the bench with other new boy Sead Kolasinac.
Things seem to have gone full circle for Kolasinac already as he now appears to be out of favour again as Ainsley Maitland-Niles looks to be the most likely choice at right back. If the team picked in the Carabao Cup is anything to go by then AMN will get the nod and Kolasinac will sit on the bench. If he’s not carrying an injury it’s a slap in the face for a player who was voted the best left back in the Bundeslige last season.
It would be a great opportunity for AMN, but also a risky move from the manager and I hope it doesn’t backfire if he does play. Ultimately he looks like he could be the player we need to bolster the centre of the midfield, but he’s been broken into the team in a position that isn’t his best one. He has done well there in the lower level games he has played there this season, but marking the top scoring player in the Premier League so far this season will be a very tough task for him.
At least we will get to see Lacazette from the start and again if Tuesday’s game is anything to go by we will see Alex Iwobi too. The absence of Ramsey should see Jack Wilshere in from the start too and it would be great to see him have a real influence in such a big game. With his contract up at the end of the season he is playing for his Arsenal future and making an impact tonight would go a long way to convincing the club he has something to offer.
A win tonight would be a huge boost and I think we are more than capable of it, but we really cannot afford to lose either. Besides the three points on offer a defeat could be another huge dent in our confidence with three games coming up in quick succession. A bad run in those games would be detrimental to our top four hopes and we need to start them in a positive fashion.
Mesut Ozil is the player most likely to open Liverpool up on current form and we need another star performance from him tonight. It would be great if Alexis Sanchez could step up to the plate too, but his form has been patchy at best this season. I have no doubt he will be plying his trade elsewhere next season and I only hope he can give us something in his last few months at the club starting tonight.
Liverpool are a little like Arsenal in so far as they have the ability to fall apart just when everything seems to be going their way. If we can put them to the sword tonight we can maybe cause them a few troubles over the next few games and move well ahead of them in the league. We will move up to fourth if we win tonight and Christmas will look just a little better if we are in the top four.
That’s it for today.
See you tomorrow.