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The Untold preview: Arsenal – Liverpool

By Phil Gregory

With Manchester United crashing to FA Cup defeat this weekend, today’s match against Liverpool offers us a chance to close the gap further. Liverpool come into this game on the back of a great win over City, with a three nil scoreline not predicted by many. Carroll grabbed the headlines with the goals, but it was Suarez who dropped off and pulled the strings so the Uruguayan must be closely watched.

While a few Gooners expressed reservations at the Liverpool tie given their result versus City, it’s important to look at things in perspective. Liverpool were playing at home, and Anfield is somewhere that they have generally performed well this season, losing only twice. Away mathces are a whole different story for Liverpool: they’ve lost ten this season, and only won four.

Tactically, City certainly helped Liverpool too. Suarez could drop off with ease given the absence of De Jong and Barry failing to anchor the midfield. A combination of rectifying this problem and home advantage should see Liverpool largely tempered.

Song returns from injury to face Liverpool, offering a welcome boost in midfield. He’s joined by Johan Djourou, someone who has emerge as a key part of our defence this season. Up against Carroll, Djourou’s aerial strength may well have a big say in which way this match goes. A surprise boost is Vermaelen, the Belgian back in full training but just short of match fitness so unlikely to be involved. Szcznesy is the final player to return, offering us options in goal at a time when we were down to just 41 year old Jens Lehmann. If fit, Wojciech should go back between the sticks and offer us stability for the run-in.

Quite a positive injury summary so far, for a change! Almunia is however a doubt after sustaining an injury just before last week’s game at Blackpool, while Sagna is viewed as a major concern for today’s game. Denilson may be fit to be involved after a toe injury.

Liverpool are missing defensive trio Kelly, Agger and Johnson, while captain Steven Gerrard is ruled out with a muscle injury. A shortage of defenders may force them to continue with academy graduate john Flanagan at rightback, who made his debut against City at the weekend

Szcznesy

Eboue Djourou Koscielny Clichy

Song Wilshere

Fabregas

Walcott Van Persie Nasri

Szcznesy returns in goal, with Eboue deputising for the injured Sagna. Djourou steps back in for Squillaci, whilst Koscielny and Clichy complete the back four. The defence is shielded by Wilshere and Song, whilst Fabregas plays further forward. I went for Theo Walcott over Arshavin, with Nasri moving to the right and Van Persie playing through the middle.

Individually, there is more than enough quality in that line-up to win the tie, and it looks all the stronger for the players passed fit. Carroll’s aerial abilities caused us difficulties when he played for Newcastle at the Emirates, but I’m confident the ever-improving Johann Djourou will be able to keep him quiet. A high defensive line twill keep him away from the box as well as limiting the space Suarez has to drop off into.

Certainly Suarez won’t have as an easy a time of it as against City. If he looks to drop off, Koscielny is more than capable of tracking him some way but more likely we’ll opt to stick with a 2v1 situation versus Carroll and pass him off to Song in midfield. With Liverpool missing Gerrard, there is a certain lack of quality in their central midfield, especially in terms of creativity. While Lucas has emerged as an excellent holding midfielder, a dearth of wider options has seen the impressive Meireles play wider, forcing them to use Spearing in midfield in recent matches. If this proves to be the case, we shouldn’t struggle to boss possession against them. Suarez will be key to creating chances, so it will be up to effective teamwork between the central defence and the holding midfielders that will have to track his off the ball movement.

Down the flanks we should have enough to deal with them even without Sagna. Their wide midfielders don’t really convince (though Kuyt does tend to pop up with more than his fair share of goals) whilst fullback has been an Achilles heel for Liverpool for some time.

A couple of recent home draws have dented Arsenal’s hunt for the title as of late, but a return to winning ways at Blackpool will hopefully continue today at Liverpool. With the Premier |League at stake and Liverpool so poor away from home, I’ confident we’ll see a win today, so I’m going for 2-1 to the Arsenal.

11 comments to The Untold preview: Arsenal – Liverpool

  • critic

    what nonsense!!!! Liv poor away form is largely due to hodgson regime. Under dalglish the have improved, Yes they lost at blackpool under KD but he was relatively new to liv players. Even at wba they were dominating. Add to it EMS crowd that groans and moans at every given opportunity, it won’t be different for liv as our crowd will try their best to be their 12th man.

    A poor piece of writing and analysis.

    Having said that Arsenal should have enough in the locker to sneak a win.

  • JohnW

    I think the plus is our keeper returning. I think we really have a great opportunity if we win both games before ManU play again. Because then they will be on real pressure should we be one point behind them. Let’s hope for the best.

  • Arsenal will defeat d wall of Liverpool by 3-1. With my goalkeeper back 4rm injury and Walcot & Song back 4rm injury, and d inform players wil beat Liverpool mercilessly.

  • goonertoglory

    Vermaelen will certainly be giving tips on how to contain Suarez. Stopping Suarez is the key.

  • Samuel

    Just keep ball watcher supreme Sagna far from the action as Eboue is much better at getting forward and maybe scoring like he did vs Blackpool recently with Djourou challenging Carroll for Liverpool high balls(corners,free kicks )into Arsenal,s box
    and Koscielny covering the flickons etc.Song being available is great news ,up the Gunners?

  • walter

    Samuel, I wished we had “ball watcher” Sagna running there in the 99th minute….

  • Dark Prince

    what more can i say?? we jus dont kno how to defend properly in pressure…

  • A Casual Observer

    Or was that the 103rd minute Walter?

  • walter

    To stay away from the subject of the ref. I just felt that Cesc and RVP didn’t have their best game in an Arsenal shirt. Certainly in the first half a lot of Cesc his passes were not good. My son even asked me: is he injured? It felt as if he was playing with the handbrake on. And when Cesc plays and isn’t at this best we strugle. Those things happen and against Blackpool you can get over it but against a Liverpool team that defended in numbers it’s more difficult.

  • Dark Prince

    I think even wilshere had a bad game…rarely made any runs inside d box wit d ball…

  • walter

    Dark Prince, I agree. after seeing the game again I noticed a lot of wrong passes from our normally best players. Cesc, RVP, Nasri and Wilshere. If one of them has a not so good game the others can step up but with all of them not at their best it was very difficult.