After nearly a month since our last Premiership match, Arsenal return to league matters today with a difficult trip to Anfield.
It was a 2-0 win over Hull city which was our aforementioned previous league game, but since then, the small matter of a humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich has resulted in a severe loss of confidence in the side.
The dearth of matches may not be great for us fans, but it does at least give our players some much needed respite – from the physical demands and also the scrutiny they are under. Recent form and the title slipping away yet again before the business end of the season has seen disenchantment rise amongst fans, and the media have fixed their spotlight on the club.
This game against Liverpool doesn’t exactly give us the best opportunity to overturn our poor form against the so-called big clubs either. Our recent record at Anfield is poor, and Liverpool’s record against their Top4 rivals is strong in contrast.
This is illustrated by their excellent victory over tottenham in February, which was sandwiched between lacklustre losses to Hull and Leicester. Liverpool seem to have a problem geeing themselves up for the lesser lights of the league – but this means they will be primed for our visit.
Arsene Wenger confirmed in his latest press conference that Mesut Ozil missed training during the week through illness but should be available for selection. Aaron Ramsey has returned to first team training but a lack of match fitness should see him on the bench. Aside from Santi Cazorla, Wenger should have a full squad to pick from.
There can be no excuses this time around, as opposed to the corresponding fixture at the start of the season, when an inexperienced defence cost us in a 4-3 loss. We have nearly everybody fit and raring to go. Maybe a shake up in attack could do the trick?
Alex Iwobi is off-form, and Lucas Perez has displayed his readiness in every cameo he has made. A start for Lucas at the expense of the young Nigerian makes perfect sense for both players, but will Wenger choose to drop Iwobi?
Klopp is well aware of his side’s defensive failings, so Lucas Leiva may slot into midfield to add extra cover against our plethora of attacking options. The key will be Alexis and Walcott. If Alexis is on song, then it will take two defenders to contend with him. If Theo is on form and firing, then his pace is unrivalled within the Reds defensive numbers.
the first twenty minutes will tell all. We are notoriously slow starters aside from those rare games when we finally click. Those halcyon matches shine brightly amidst the gloom, and we get about two of those matches a season. We have had one already with our win against Chelsea earlier this season, can we reproduce it again?
It is high time we bucked our trend against our big rivals. If we do not, then a battle to stay in the Champions League places becomes a dogfight.
After our recent match hiatus, the fixtures start to fly after this game. We need every single one of our players to finally find some form, and some spirit if we are to achieve anything this season.
It begins today at Anfield.
Predicted Lineup; Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Xhaka, Theo, Ozil, Lucas, Alexis
Predicted Scoreline; 2-1 Arsenal.