By Bulldog Drummond
As so, our little series of no less than six articles about the Liverpool Arsenal game comes to an end with our inevitably wrong team sheet and list of players larking around on the beach.
But first, the under 23s game: Yaya Sanogo and Reiss Nelson scored as we beat the Tinies 2-0. The team was
Jenkinson Shefa Debuchy Bramall
McGuane Dragonmir Nelson
- Malen Sanogo Willock
On to today. In the build up we have noted that Liverpool! are the great contradictionaries (there is no such word, but don’t worry about it) only arranging two wins in 12 games in all competitions in 2017 while remaining unbeaten in all 12 league matches this season against opponents currently in the top half of the table (W7, D5).
So, as you would expect they are top of the “top six” league and we are bottom. But they have not gone two games in a row without letting in a goal since… wait for it, December 2014.
And here is something I only just found out. The Jolly Jurgen has exactly the same record as Liverpool manager after 56 league games as Brendan Rodgers: 27 wins, 16 draws and 13 defeats. There were quite a few AAAs of both variety (anti-fans and negative journalists) who thought Arsenal would improve with a Kloppian input. I wonder if they still think that.
We have lost four of the last ten PL games and only won one of the last five away matches in the league, and only had one game without conceding in the last eight. Not so good.
But there is always a cloud in the silver lining (or should that be the other way around). Alexis has been involved in 25 league goals this season (17 goals, 8 assists), four more than any other player.
Worse still Liverpool! are one of only a handful of teams who have done better against us than we have against them. We have won 78 against them, they have won 84 against us across all history since the Bronze Age. But in the last six it is one win for them, three draws, and two wins for us.
As for the team, the questions are…
Having given Danny a run out in the previous u-23 game, will we finally see him start? Laurent Koscielny has recovered, but has he recovered enough or will he be saved for Bayern Munich? Aaron Ramsey is also back but will he play in this, or the Bayern game, or get a game against Lincoln? Mesut Ozil went home sick in the week, but could be better for today, or again might be saved for Bayern?
Liverpool meanwhile are celebrating record breaking accounts – they lost £19.8m last year. Actually the record breaking bit is the revenue of over £300m. That is just £50,000,000 behind Arsenal. We made a profit of £2m.
Even Jamie Carragher has given up trying to make excuses for Liverpool saying that he thought Everton could finish above them in the league. The issue of Everton/Liverpool of course is not so long running as Tottenham/Arsenal. While the Tinies last finished above us during the era of Cro-Magnon man, Everton did it over Liverpool in 2012/13. Which in terms of Merseyside is, now I think of it, actually Cro-Magnon.
But our record against the recently constituted “Big Six” is poor, and this is the biggest worry. However just as we hope all positive runs will continue for ever, so all negative runs can come to an end sometime. They always do.
On such matters Mr Wenger said, “We lost at Everton and Manchester City after being 1-0 up and it was because we were not proactive after we went ahead – we were too passive. After that, we lost at Chelsea under special circumstances a little bit but I agree that we didn’t look like we played with enough freedom or the belief that we would just turn up and do it.
“That is what we want to add to our game. What is most important for me now is the attitude to just go for it – to go and take. What is linked many times with belief is a passive mode and not enough proactivity. You have to make things happen. It is always a mindset. How do I bring it out in the players? By making them conscious of it.”
He has also stressed the need for defensive solidity while players are still expressing themselves with confidence. As everyone involved in the arts knows only too well, confidence is everything. Without it you retreat into the tried and tested. With confidence you push forwards into the new world.
Mr Wenger also said, “Özil has suffered a lot from the loss of Cazorla. Cazorla can get out of pressure in deep midfield; he gets the ball played through to a player who is higher up and then Özil, with the ball at the right moment, can always do damage. But I don’t want to make this a debate about one player. It’s not Özil alone who will win us the game.”
OK, that is a bit of a gamble, it could be
Bellerin Mustafi Gabriel Monreal
Coquelin Iwobi Xhaka
Welbeck Alexis Theo
Or any combination thereof. And this means the beach is even more uncertain, but it could contain some of the following people, none of whom will be forced to enter the polluted waters of the River Mersey.
Try this, and then laugh at me for getting it wrong. A selection from…
Ospina, Mertesacker, Gabriel*, Holding, Gibbs, Ramsey, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi*, Reine-Adélaïde, Walcott*, Pérez, Giroud
*Could start as opposed to being beached.
Confusing isn’t it? That’s the problem. We just don’t have enough players injured.
As for the follow up, Walter has important family commitments (in Belgium), and Tony has important dancing commitments (in Radcliffe on Trent), so neither will be providing the after-match summary. Sorry about that. We will be back tomorrow however, either crowing with delight, or hiding behind the sofa.
Liverpool v Arsenal the full story.
- Liverpool v Arsenal: how the world has changed for Liverpool in recent years
- Liverpool! v Arsenal: the facts, the figures, and the other bits that we made up.
- Arrogance, amnesia and assumptions: how the football media deals with Liverpool
- Liverpool v Arsenal 4 March 2017 (Matchweek 27) – The Match Officials
- Liverpool v Arsenal – how Arsenal can win, how the ref will reverse himself and long is cut short