Arsenal travel to Anfield on Wednesday night in what promises to be a tightly contested tie despite current injuries wreaking havoc through both squads. Liverpool arguably have it a lot worse, with no established partnerships able to be called upon in the centre of defence. If the vicious high tempo 0-0 draw from late August was anything to go by, not to mention the last gasp 2-2 draw last season, the Gunners are in for a challenging night – but they’re more than up to the task.
Arsene Wenger will be without star man Alexis Sanchez still, who has yet to recover from his hamstring troubles and is absent from the recent training session. The mildly rotated side that beat Sunderland 3-1 last weekend in the FA Cup afforded Mesut Ozil a legs up, while Aaron Ramsey’s game-changing cameo bodes well for the Welshman who will eager to get back to his best.
Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Flamini are also likely to reclaim their starting positions despite some strong performances from Gabriel and Kieran Gibbs especially. Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky have returned to full training, however both are unlikely to start.
The Gunners have been consistent of late, top the league has been no easy feat not to mention a change in fortune against the Reds who smashed us in early 2014. A lot has changed at Liverpool since that fateful day in February, there’s no Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge is giving Abou Diaby’s injury record a run for it’s money but now former Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp is at the helm and will be looking for a rejuvenating win against Wenger’s orchestra.
With Ozil pulling the strings and the (reasonably) dynamic duo of Flamini and Ramsey running the engine room, Wenger’s men can go into this confident against a high pressing Klopp side who’ve yet to consistently click under the German since his arrival. The Merseysiders have pulled off some decent victories over Manchester City and Southampton recently, but have also struggled against the likes of Watford and more recently West Ham United.
Arsenal thankfully have proven they’re capable of soaking up the pressure when it comes to it. We did it well at home against Manchester City, and will need a similar resilience in front of the Kop. Luckily for us, Courtinho’s absence is a blessing. The diminutive midfielder was absurdly good at Emirates earlier this season.
We need a big performance from Ramsey and the wingers – likely to be Theo Walcott and Joel Campbell – we cannot afford to lose possession in silly positions and accuracy needs to be spot on. We need to avoid ‘one of those nights’ when we can’t pass five yards, but our reasonably rested first team should be switched on from the get-go and place them under immediate pressure. Liverpool have their flaws especially at the back and with some precision passing and clinical finishing from our frontmen, we can walk away with three points.