Liverpool vs Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: February 8, 2014 12:45 PM GMT
The upcoming clash against Liverpool kicks off the start of a tough run of fixtures that could be season defining for Arsenal. Following the clash against Liverpool, the Gunners play Manchester United in midweek and then again play Liverpool in the FA Cup. To round out the tough eleven day schedule the Gunners then play German heavyweights Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League at home.
In the last meeting between the two sides at the Emirates, the Gunners came out deserved 2-0 victors after crowding out midfield and thereby cutting off any significant service to the Merseysiders main threats, who are of course Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. Arsenal’s dominance in midfield was key in what was a comfortable victory and Brendon Rodgers acknowledged his side were well beaten in the post-match interview.
This time around, the general feeling is that this clash is shaping up to be a much closer affair, but Wenger himself has effectively stated that the strategy will again to hold possession to prevent good service to Liverpool’s lethal attack. The biggest change from the reverse fixture at the Emirates however is that there will be no Ramsey and it still remains unknown whether Wenger will give the nod to Wilshere or Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield. With Wilshere doubtful and the Ox impressing with his brace against Crystal Palace last game-week, I would say we will see the Ox reprise his new found role in Arsenal’s midfield.
Out wide, there is no doubt the Cazorla will be handed a start as his tendency to drift inside fits the game-plan perfectly. The remaining flank is a little harder to predict. If Wenger is hell-bent on completely crowding midfield Rosicky becomes the logical choice, but his lack of match fitness could mean that Podolski may get another rare start. Predictably, Giroud and Ozil round out the remaining attacking players.
The other important aspect for Arsenal is clearly defence. Even if we do maintain a lion-share of possession and the game-plan goes to script, you can be sure at the very least a couple of half-chances will fall to Liverpool. The Gunner’s defence has been very impressive this season, but they will have to be at their absolute best to deny Suarez and Sturridge, players we know who can make something out of nothing. Expect the usual faces to be in the Arsenal back-line, with the more recently favoured Monreal starting on the left.
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Being at Liverpool’s home ground, we can expect the fans to be in full voice for their side. There is no doubt that the earlier period of the match will be full of intensity from both the Liverpool players and their supporters and it is important that Arsenal try and impose themselves early. If we can do that, there should be good opportunities throughout the match to test what is a weakened Liverpool defence and prove that Arsenal have what it takes to be genuine title contenders. COYG!
Arsenal: Walcott (knee), Ramsey (thigh), Vermaelen (knee), Kallstrom (back), Flamini (suspended)
Liverpool: Leiva (knee), Enrique (knee), Agger (calf), Johnson (ankle), Sakho (hamstring)
|ARSENAL – WDWWW||LIVERPOOL – DWWDW|
|Arsenal 2 – Crystal Palace 0||EPL||West Brom 1 – Liverpool 1||EPL|
|Southampton 2 – Arsenal 2||EPL||Liverpool 4 – Everton 0||EPL|
|Arsenal 4 – Coventry 0||FA||Bournemouth 0 – Liverpool 2||FA|
|Arsenal 2 – Fulham 0||EPL||Liverpool 2 – Aston Villa 2||EPL|
|Aston Villa 1 – Arsenal FC 2||EPL||Stoke 3 – Liverpool 5||EPL|
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal
Arteta (c) Ox
Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2