Arsenal v Liverpool
Kick off: Saturday 20th August, 12.45pm BST
Arsenal’s first home game of the season sees Liverpool visit the Emirates Stadium. Both games last year ended 1-1 draws courtesy of late howlers in the dying minutes of the matches. After 89 minutes at Anfield, Liverpool were leading by a solitary goal, then Pepe Reina made a mess of things scoring an own goal in the process in the 90th minute. Now that Eboue has left Arsenal, they could perhaps be safe from conceding a 90th minute again at the Emirates that shattered their title hopes.
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Arsenal will have to do without the services of first team regulars Gervinho and Song due to their squabbles with Barton resulted in 3 match bans for both of the Africans. To add to the injury woes, Wilshere is still not available at this stage, Djourou and Gibbs also incurred knocks from the midweek Champions League Qualifier, as well as fresh injuries to Rosicky and Traore rule them out. Despite a small glimmer of hope that Nasri may play and add some class to the team, things aren’t looking up for the Gunners.
Liverpool are in a state of rebuilding, and after spending in the excess of £100m since the turn of the year, Dalglish is serious and consequently had a positive outing last weekend against Sunderland. They were unlucky with Larsson’s fantastic equaliser, but Luis Suarez was energetic and dangerous capping his grand performance with a goal. Andy Carroll was also a handful, while Charlie Adam and Stuart Downing provided dangerous crosses. Liverpool are looking dangerous.
On team injury news:
Jack (Wilshere) is getting better by the day. He will not be ready for Saturday, but we have had good signs with him and that is very important.
Both Tomas and Armand are doubtful for the match on Saturday. We will make a late decision on both of them. Rosicky has a slight thigh problem and Traore has a slight groin problem.
On hesitating about picking Nasri:
“Not at all, One thing I don’t question is the commitment of Samir Nasri to this Club.
“Every day since he has arrived here, and every day in pre-season, he has worked with a fantastic spirit in training.
“The fans will want Arsenal to play well and win the game. I think they do not make an individual case of each player in each position. They want good players and to win the football game.
“I don’t see what you can reproach Samir Nasri about. His attitude in training, everybody has witnessed that he has been fantastic from the first day of pre-season.”
“He is in the squad for tomorrow,” said the manager on Friday. “We are impressed by Ryo’s quality, his spirit and his attitude.
“Everybody is absolutely convinced he will be an Arsenal player. He has a good understanding of the game, he is very quick, he is a fighter and has all the attributes that you love of a player at the top level.
allArsenal’s men to watch:
Arsenal – Walcott: The Englishman slotted home early at the Emirates in midweek and looks set to retain his place in the starting lineup. He is often very hit and miss, but will add some much needed pace and excitement into the Arsenal attack.
Liverpool – Suarez: The Uruguay international was on the scoresheet last week and may well be again against the Gunners this weekend. He is fine finisher and torments defences with his quick touches and pace. Vermaelen and co will need to shut him down early.
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Jenkinson
Walcott Van Persie (c) Arshavin
Djourou, Gibbs, Traore, Rosicky, Diaby, Wilshere are all out injured. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Miyaichi have still yet to feature for Arsenal’s first team in a competitive match so it maybe unlikely that they will start, however may feature at some point in the match.
Nasri may play a more central role while he is at the club, and with Wenger hinting that he may play will most likely see him partner Ramsey in the midfield. This will be a welcomed boost to Gunners fans if Nasri does indeed start, as he will add more experience and class to the midfield.
1: Samir Nasri – A bit of a gamble, but he is quite likely to start in the ‘fab-gap’ will allow Nasri to get forward and grab some assists and maybe a goal.
2: Robin Van Persie – Came extremely close to scoring against Newcastle, he should get on the score sheet this week and is likely to get a bonus point or two.
3: Theo Walcott – The winger fluctuates in form, but he has class and has developed his finishing. It’s likely he will get on the scoresheet this week after finishing cooly against Udinese in midweek.