With the last international break of the season ending yesterday the focus well and truly turns to the last hurdle of the marathon. We are at a stage where points and only points count. It doesn’t matter whether you let in dozens of shots if you get the three points at the end of the 90 minutes. In short we are in what Sir Alex Ferguson refers to as ‘squeaky bum’ time. We take a look at the Liverpool game which takes place at the Emirates on Saturday and the things Arsenal need to do.
Arsenal must get the first goal
In big games like the one at the Emirates, the first goal is of paramount importance. We all know the importance of that goal. In our big wins of the season at the Etihad and at Old Trafford (FA Cup) its noticeable that we got the first goal and that laid the platform for us to execute our counter attacking plan to perfection. On the other hand if Liverpool score the first it’s up to us to force the issue which could play right into Liverpool’s hands. Having said that, the game is a must win for Liverpool. A loss would see them drop 9 points behind Arsenal so they have no other option but to win the game. This could result in Rodgers’ men taking the game to Arsenal at the Emirates, which is a massive risk. I would also prefer Liverpool to attack, overcommit and be on the end of a good ol’ thrashing which would end their top 4 hopes once and for all. After all we owe them for the urgh, 5-1.
The Gunners should win the midfield battle
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It was interesting to watch how that thug Fellaini dominated the entire Liverpool midfield. He overpowered to such an extent that Steven Gerrard’s red card was in part due to the angst at watching the former Evertonian getting the better of his team mates at Anfield. Arsenal’s midfield must make sure they dictate the play and control the game.
Coquelin will have the huge challenge of keeping the dangerous Philipe Coutinho quiet. On the other side Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla will be looking to conjure their magic against a midfield that lacks a natural playmaker in the absence of Steven Gerrard who is suspended.
Alexis will rediscover his mojo
Alexis is currently in a bit of a wobble, given the high standards he had set at the start of the season, that was always going to happen; you can’t be playing at the highest level without suffering a slight drop in form unless you are Messi and Ronaldo, who its understood aren’t humans. Liverpool have been playing three at the back for the last couple of months or so, while they may change the system against Arsenal it would be perfect for Alexis if the Scousers continue with the existing one. Liverpool play a wing back and against Alexis its always tough for a full back never mind a wing back. However the key here is Alexis shouldn’t drift to the middle where he will get crowded out. He should take on the players out wide and stretch the Liverpool defence so their shape gets disjointed. What a game for the Chilean to get his bite( not the Suarez bite) back.
A win for us would all but put Liverpool out of contention and keeps our strong momentum going. Its important that we don’t lose though.