Arsenal/Liverpool: team sheet and complete analysis

By Phil Gregory

Arsenal welcome Liverpool to the Emirates stadium for Wednesday’s Carling Cup tie.

The Reds, already six points off the pace in the Premier League despite a solid home win over champions Manchester United are expected to put out a below strength side for the tie with an eye on their match at Craven Cottage at the weekend.

With a lack of squad depth being a major criticism of the team Benitez has put together for this season, it will be interesting to see  how they perform against an Arsenal side that, while weakened, has put Premier League teams to the sword in the past.

Recent form:

Arsenal come into the game after another disappointing away draw, having given away a two goal lead at Upton Park on Sunday to ultimately share the points with the Hammers. Despite scoring freely, we haven’t looked confident at the back, partly due to a shake up over the owner of the number one jersey. The kids, however, have no such worries, having dispatched a strong West Brom outfit 2-0 in the previous

Liverpool will undoubtedly have their confidence restored after the victory over Manchester United, but question marks remain over their ability to maintain a high level of performance over the campaign, with big wins over Hull and Burnley contrasting with disappointing results against Aston Villa and Tottenham on the opening day.


Arsenal have already announced that they will be without Carling Cup regular Jack Wilshire, as well as pacy Frenchman Armand Traore. Of the other four injured first teamers, only Johan Djourou would have expected to be involved.  Nasri and Fabianski have been confirmed starters after recent injuries, while Eduardo and Bendtner are expected to play to regain match fitness.

Liverpool have ruled Spanish wideman Riera out with a hamstring injury, and he is joined on the sidelines by Michael Kelly, who impressed against Lyon recently. Reserve centre back Kyrgiakos is out along with club captain Gerrard, and fullback Dossena is the final absentee.

Arsenal predicted line-up:


Gilbert Senderos Silvestre Gibbs


Ramsey Nasri

Bendtner Eduardo  Merida/Vela

I’m expecting Wenger to give the two backup centrebacks a run out, which is a shame as I’m keen to see reserve team captain Bartley get some minutes.

Eboue could perhaps slot in instead of Gilbert, but Gibbs is a dead cert to take the leftback slot after impressive displays there in last season’s Carling Cup campaign. I’m expecting Nasri to take a central role given his seniority over Merida, but it isn’t a given. I declined to name a bench as it would be simply guesswork – it could be reserves such as Watt, or it could be fairly experienced.

Key men:

For Arsenal, Nasri is certainly a standout name, and he will be looking to make a big impact on this game with the intention of winning a first team place back. Ramsey too will be looking to underline his credentials as Cesc’s understudy and earn himself more minutes. Eduardo should be more than capable of exposing a Liverpool back line that has looked vulnerable to pace and movement.

Liverpool’s reserves look distinctly unimpressive, and I’m struggling to pick out a name. Riera seems like one of their few danger men, and the left winger was one of the big differences between Liverpool 08/09 and Liverpool 07/08. He offered good width in a Liverpool side that looked distinctly one-dimensional the previous campaign with Babel occupying the left midfield position. Up against Gɪlbert, he may get some joy.


I strongly believe our kids can beat anyone at home, and Liverpool reserves are poorer than most. Even though they have a bit of experience amongst them, the young guns won’t be intimidated by names such as Nɡoɡ, Babel and Voronin, despite the first-team minutes they have clocked up.  I am going for a solid 2-0 to the Arsenal, with us to dominate the midfield in particular.

Tony’s Postscript: There’s more about MAKING THE ARSENAL – the book that arose from discussions on this site.   See all the details (and if you would like to help me recoup just a little of the expense of running this site, you can buy a copy) on the MAKING THE ARSENAL SITE.

49 Replies to “Arsenal/Liverpool: team sheet and complete analysis”

  1. i commented that barca would carve us apart. i stand by that. man city did, blackburn scored easily against us and so did leige. yes we may have ended up scoring more then 2 of them but barca they certainly arent and if we are to believe the boss’s prophecy of gauranteed trophies this year then surely we should be using the current holders of one of our trophy targets as a measuring stick. i dont go overboard on one game as both sides do here however man city, man united, leige, very poor against birmingham, alkmaar, west ham – ive seen enough bad games already this season and seen enough of the same old issues unresolved to know nothing will change in the shake up.

  2. plus all of the fans who are asking for this player or that player to be dropped are missing the whole point of wenger. he deliberately persists in faith with bad players so that they can turn it around and he can say he knows best. we had it with eboue and low and behold he put 1 or 2 good games in and he (and many of the arsene fans here) jumped on the bandwagon of him being a changed man and player – give me a break – poor excuse for an arsenal player – the same with diaby and the same with clichy and the same with arshavin – all of them are very poor this year yet they wont get dropped for other players. his persistence in his ego fueled crusade to show he knows best against all other rational wisdom will lead to us another empty cabinet and a month of april watching other teams play meaningful games. yes the trophies may not be the be all and end all but you know what maybe i have been spoilt but i expect at the least to see players giving their all and fighting for the shirt with pride. arshavin always was and always will be a soulless mercinary, he just happens to be one of the most gifted players i have seen so when he can be bothered he can beat anyone. clichy has gone backwards as has sagna, and as for not buying anyone to stop the development of diaby – jesus give me a break. how many years do we want to give someone…. january xfer window will make or break us and if he really does think he can see this current crop winning the league then we should not expect any signings and in my mind we should not expect success.

    after 2 anti wenger posts i just want to say i hate the run upto this weekends game more then any other and just want it over and done with. No toher game matches the tension of this one and no other game means more – if we beat that lot saturday i will happily shut my mouth for the rest of the season on wenger. a promise. however if we dont win then the posts after the west ham game will seem very pale in comparison.

  3. Ohh yee Gooners of little faith. a slip-up doesn’t translate to complacency, in as much as i do agree, we made a mistake by dropping two crucial points, who doesn’t? we were bound to draw a game sooner or later. Having said that,anyone who in the past or present that continues to think or say that Song ain’t 1st Class, then you ain’t no Gooner. Our Gooner lads are up to the task of chasing for premiership honours this season, and the least we can do is cheer them on. “KEEP THE SPIRIT,GUNNERS 4 LIFE”

  4. yesterdays post by Luke seems a bit far fetched to me. we have not progressed as much as other teams gone back – i have never known a chelsea, liverpool or united team as poor as this year. yes the others in the lower part of league got bit better but the invincibles would win this league by 20 to 30 points i would guess.

    united lost their best player and did not replace him and look shaky at back with only rooney up front carrying the team. chelsea look solid but they are hardly a young outfit and liverpool have the worst squad they have assembled in years – AND yet we are still not running past them. I wont go overboard as we are still fairly close but the fact is that we have never had a better opportunity to win a league, wenger has been gifted that opportunity not by his own work on the team but by other teams going backwards and yet i still firmly beleive 100% we will not win a trophy. We may end up better then the 4th i predicted but i do not seeing us winning anything and watching barca on the weekend if they played us they would score double figures.

  5. Its dissapointing reading all da gooners posts trying to slate some select players for our draw against West Ham. From da onset we need to recognize that this was a derby n if my memory serves me right, in 2006 season even the Henry trio were unable to unlock the WH defence. The team perfomed below par on Wed and Sun wea on both occasions, we shuld av killed off the game. It seems that RVP can score at most 1 goal plus 1 asssist n there4 shuld be subbed at 65 mins wether he has scored or not. Secondly,Arshavin needs some rest n Edu or Vela shuld take his position, thirdly Diaby needs 2 give way for Nasri/Rosicky. Overall our Manone isnt the finished product punching to da field instead of tipping it offer. Finally wats the Editor’s take on our previous 2 perfomances?

  6. the thing that frustrated me the most was eboue. one thing in the entire match that took all the emotion out of me. west ham player (forget who he was) picks the ball up 10 yards inside our half. he proceed to dribble. eboue quickly put his body in front of the ball. backing off, backing off, backing off, backing off, backing off, backing off, backing off, runs with him offering no tackle before the ball is passed to another hammer deep inside our half. what was the stuffing point? offer a tackle. i swear he ran about 20 metres with eboue in front of him ¿ what annoys me is eboue may have well not been there as he did nothing. its simple offer a tackle. my body spins into spasms at times thinking about it. it really did and still does make my skin crawl. i would have been interesting if the west ham player fancied going alone. i wonder at what stage was eboue going to make the tackle?? (propably inside the box and would have cocked it up anyway giving away a stupid penalty) oh wait we did that. dont want to lay into song as i think he is a fine player. diaby is a home player against weak opposition ¿ very effective actually. but away and against class id play wilshere, ramsey, denilson and possibly merida ahead of him.

  7. Why are some people slagging Song and Diaby off? Song is a much much better version of one season wonder Flamini and Diaby has all the potential to be the new Viera. They are still young and improving every game. The reason we drew yeaterday was not down to inderviduals but down to the whole team thinking they were home and dry. Instead of finding players to blame why dont we all get behind the team and show them win lose or draw we got there backs. I am not saying i don’t slate any of our players because i did but since the Eboue saga last year i promised i wouldn’t. He is twice the player he was last year and thats down to us cheering him on. Not saying he should be a starter for us but he has improved a lot. Were be ok this season aslong as we keep the faith.

  8. terrylane, the greatest armchair Manager you’ve never heard of!

    Do you realise how stupid you sound?

    Wenger may not be perfect, but he’s still forgotten more about football than you will ever know!

  9. terrylane: Thank you for your opinion, but enough. Do people no longer have the right to quietly enjoy what they reserve for like minded people of their own ilk? This blogsite is not created for face-pissing negativity.

    You will find more than enough people who share your views at le-grove. Or better still, create your for people who think the way you do. I have no objection to that; and I promise not to come there to disturb your peace.

    So enough, thank you ang goodbye, Sir.

  10. terrylane: dont watch the game – dont want you complaining after….thanks, go watch x-factor or sumthing.

  11. terrylane,
    We haven’t had that many bad games this season. In a few matches so far we’ve probably gotten less points than we deserved and we need to make sure that we cut out the errors that cost us those deserved points. Other than that, we’ve been solid. We’ve even showed that we can “grind out results” when we’re not at our best (like against Fulham and Liege).
    The invincibles or any team would not win the league by 20 or 30 points. Are you really being serious? Chelsea are still a world class team. So are Man Utd even though they lost Ronaldo. Liverpool, too, are still capable of putting up a good fight, although I think they’ll probably finish 4th or lower.

    We had a rather tough schedule to begin the season with and we’re still on course for getting 22 points out of a possible 30 in our first 10 games.
    If we continue that form (although we can expect to improve since the fixtures are a bit easier) through the next 10 games, that puts us at 44 points half way through the season.
    Another 22 from the next 30 and we have 66 points. Then lets say we get 18 from the last 24.
    We would end up with 84 points. That could very well win us the title.
    The point of this is not to show that we will win the title but that we are not doing that badly at all in a league that is actually tougher than ever before.
    You might be right and we might end up winning nothing again but how you can be so certain about it and be so critical of a team that is so close to the top is beyond me.

    Judging by your comment that if we beat spurs you’ll stop complaining, I think you’re not actually here for intellectual discussion but just to whine. I’ve got nothing against whining but this is not the place to do it.

  12. BTW, barca would not carve us apart.

    The argument that because Blackburn scored 2 against you that means Barca, who are 10x better, will score (2 x 10) 20 against you is clearly flawed.

    Man utd allowed 1 against Burnley, that means we should’ve scored 30 against them. But that didn’t happen.

    Football doesn’t work that way.

    Given our recent defensive record I’d say Barca would probably score at least one against us. But unless we were having a really bad day they wouldn’t score more than 2.

  13. terrylane: I was just posting my comments on the other site on how surprised I am on how many stupid n idiots Arsenal turns to be. I can understand some disappointment .. but the bashing and undermining .. it has been overboard .. these idiots started to think how stupid Wenger as a manager is and put blame on every single players and suggest to sell them… Barca, Chelsea, MU, Madrid or whatever team to benchmark have their own embarrassing lose or draw this year … i guess this idiots looking for a team that score at least 3 every time Arsenal plays and never concede…. even the invincible conceded … having said that i categorically put you in the same brackets with all these idiots and stupids .. and I will wait Arsenal trash Spuds this weekend

  14. I was writing a comment when it grows out to 400++ words for Terry when I realised how I have wasted 20 minutes of my life trying to justify Wenger’s existence when I realised I don’t need to.

    Oh well, bring it on koppers!

  15. fuck off for all those who are saying barca will teer us aprt.havent man u game we ripped them apart.they were only lucky to get 3points we are the champions of england and europe confirmed with a bit of luck

  16. Why didn’t you post your views at yesterday’s post terrylane? Your post is irrerevent to the preview of tonight’s game.

    I may have been farfetched to you but I spoke the truth. And all I have is love for my team, no agenda whatsoever. I’d say it again, anyone is welcomed to share their views but I will not just let you lot attack the players, the team, and the manager that I love. You people seem to have high regards for other teams especially barca, saying they would carve us was so insulting maybe you should score a goal against us then slide your way like a moron cause you two have some things in common.

    Anyway, it sucks young Jack got injured but still excite nonetheless. Really hope Wenger start Coquelin and Vela, Nasri too will be on my watch.

  17. pleased to see predicted line-up, hope the players give 100%. If Ramsey, Vela & Merida had played in the game against WHU, the performance could be different.
    Diaby is a gd offensive player (don’t let him be involve in defence), y AW did not play him as a forward & switch Eboue to midfield ??? Eboue is hardworking but his final delivery is very poor.
    Hope the defenders can read the game well & have better positional sense.
    If any player (irregardless of his skill & status) is not performing, please sub him asap. Pls don’t make the same mistake waiting for him to spark & win the game.

  18. Terrylane seams to forget that every team has conceded more goals. Look at United they conceded a lot more compared to last season.
    And Terrylane, do you think that MU had a bad start ? Well if we win our game in hand we have the same start as United, scored more goals and conceded almost the same.
    In every game this season, we outplayed the opposition and always had the best chance of winning the game (doubt the Fulham game maybe ?). We can’t win every game with 6-2 or so, although I would love it you know.
    Going to leave it with that. Just think about it.

    By the way look at Real Madrid. Yesterday they lost 4(four)-0 to a third division team. This is real football you know, no computer game.

  19. I wonder if we will not see Eduardo replaced by Bendtner or vice versa in the game rather than both playing – to give both of them a bit of time getting back into the swing of thing before the little matter of saturday.

    That would give room for Vela and Merida, or for Sunu or for Sanchez Watts who seemed to be very promising against West Bromwich Wobbleyou. A weaker team, but the last thing we want is another injury before the Tinies.

  20. I alwasys fond it ascinating that other teams are said to have had a bad start but arsenal is in crises.

    If we win our game in hand, we wouldn have lost 2 and ddrawn one and won 7, same as man u at this stage of the league. How come Man u is expexcted to do better sunsequently and we cant be exected to improve on crrent performance.

    manner of draw was disappointing, does not mean that these things do not happen; get a grip terrylane and co. we dont need you guys predicting doom and gloom to add to the sadness of dropping the points.

    There is nothing wrong with a glass half full perspective either… I for one think our glass is &5% full!

    I am glad the squad players starting today, tough young, actually have a lot of first team experience between them. We will beat liverpool

  21. Tony, I think in the year Eduardo was injured, that Nick and himself were forming a very good partnership together which AW may yet exploit today.

  22. Would like to add that this is just the way a seasons go.
    At Fulham we had a little bit of luck maybe to get the 3 points, although we could also have won by a larger margin if we would have finished of the counters we had.
    On West Ham we were unlucky for not having the 3 points we deserved.
    That’s life. Sometimes you get a bit lucky and sometimes your are unlucky (including some ref decisions…)
    Looking forward to tonights game and very curious who will play at the start. I think Tony could be right that AW holds Bendtner or Eduardo on the bench. Just in case if he has to bring someone on to change if not going to plan.

  23. Phil I do enjoy your pre game analysis but you do have a tendency to underrate the opposition and talk us up a bit too much.

    This gives the d&gs too much expectation, so it upsets them when we play less than brilliantly.

    Always good fun these games. I feel the CC team can give virtually anyone a game & are well capable of beating all but the best, particularly at home.

    It will be interesting to see how many 1st team regulars Rafa puts out tonight.

    It may be a pointer that Fabianski seems like he is a definite starter. Mannone has done acceptably well but at his age & experience is certainly behind Almunia & Fabianski. Considering MA & Fab have both been unavailable for quite some time, this should be the perfect occasion to give your main ‘keeper a game before more important affairs on Saturday. That being the case I would expect Fab to start against the Spuds. Maybe MA, who to me has been a quality ‘keeper over the last 2 seasons, is still not quite right physically or mentally.

    You have Coquelin in the Song role tonight. He is certainly a fine prospect but I would not count out Randall or Nasri for that position. Randall impressed me when he came on against WBA & may have more to offer than we think.

    I would expect both Vela & Merida to start. Vela is a truly exciting prospect, who has the ability to play a major part in our season & may be able to vie with AA for his role. Merida has a way to go but is highly rated & needs the opportunity to show he can be trusted in the 1st team.

  24. hi team spirit,
    mu fight for every ball until the final whistle. SAF throw a youngster in, must perform, no second chance.

  25. So if Wenger wouldn’t give a second chance to youngsters we would be like MU? Life can be simple sometimes.

    Maybe we could also say that if we hadn’t fought as hard we wouldn’t have lost at MU : penalty and goal from free kick, West Ham: penalty and goal from free kick, AZ goal from free kick.
    If you fight hard you can cause free kicks and if you dont challenge your opponents then they don’t get free kicks and then we wouldn’t have conceded these goals.
    I think I just invented hot water. 😉

  26. terry terry terry, calm down dude. the way your going on it appears that arsenal owe you a trophy or two. we all have aspirations for our team, but no sane supporter expects trophies, victories, parades etc. this is sport. the whole point of which is that despite statistics and form and the rest of it, its down to what happens on the day.

    i think you should re-read the contract you have with arsenal just to remind yourself that they owe you nothing. whereas you probably owe some of the best times of your life to them.

  27. Two things – financial news and team news.

    I missed this yesterday in the Guardian, but our Lord said

    “Samir can be an important asset in the coming weeks,” said Wenger, who revealed that Wilshere was out with an ankle problem but that Eduardo, Bendtner and the midfielder Fran Mérida would play.

    “I can play Samir where he is needed, [which] I would say [is] more in the defensive role. He has pace and he can play in a role that is half a winger, a dropped winger who will come in sometimes and go wide.”

    And the financial crashes are happening so fast I am almost tempted to put up a separate site just for them – but I don’t want to dilute the fun we have (well I have) on this site.

    So here’s the quick summary

    From Hull’s auditors… “These forecasts demonstrate that in order to operate within the company’s finance facilities Hull City AFC will need to generate a surplus £23m during the next 12 months through player trading, match day and commercial income and/or through additional finance raising,”

    Portsmouth are now banned from all player trading until they have paid off some of the money they owe other clubs.

    Rangers are not in liquidation, but the bank is definitely putting a veto on all new purchases and all player contract renewals.

    Southend are about to go into liquidation.

    And just think – when UNTOLD started two years ago and started predicting financial meltdown, they all laughed. (Actually that reminds me of the Bob Monkhouse joke where he says, “When I was 16 I told everyone I was going to be a stand up comedian, and they all laughed. Huh! They aren’t laughing now!”

  28. I was so dissapointed in the WHU result that this is first time since Sunday that i have switched on my laptop, It’s clear to me that the team threw away three points but this has nothing to do with the manager it’s a mental attitude of the team collective, we know that we are a far better footballing team than anyone else in the league and this leads to complacency on the field this happens time and time again, what’s the answer??? maybe to rotate the team at half time and change two players every game thus keeping everyone on their toes for the whole game otherwise i can see this repeating it self over the coming weeks.

    Tonights game should be a rather close affair with us coming out on top, quite surprised to see that Vela has not been included in the squad (injured ?)however this should open up the lefthand slot for Merida a player who i rate highly as one the future Arsenal greats providing we can keep hold of him, Coqulin, Ramsey and Nasir complete what looks like a very strong midfield outfit, up front i think it’s safe to say that Bentner and Eduardo will be the strike force with Nasri cutting in from the wide left, yes i think that Eduardo spends too much time out on the wing for my liking and should concentrate on being our “fox in the box”, so all in all it looks on paper like an Arsenal win but as some one once said “it’s a funny old game”.

  29. Tony – the other thing to remember is that the next round of salary hikes and contract extensions will be the first to take into account the 50% tax bracket and depreciated pound. A lot of players are going to get less money than they thought, or clubs will end up paying much more than they wanted to in order to make up the difference.

    There is a story in the papers this morning about “Utd plan Villa and Silva swoop!!!!” but what money will those guys want to be paid and can Utd afford it?

    The English media still seem to be living in a dreamland where money falls off trees and the streets are paved with chocolate (uuummmmmmm, chocolate).

  30. I am looking forward to see this game because I really like to see Bendtner – Dudu partnership, last season games in which they appeared together gave lot of opportunities for Eduardo to score, and seams to me that Bendtner “size” draw to much attention leaving maneuverable Dudu lot of space and time. So actually I would not be surprised if in this game Le Boss play 4-4-2. But who will ever know what old magician have in his hat 🙂

  31. Tonight’s squad

    Wojciech Szczesny
    Lukasz Fabianski
    Philippe Senderos
    Kyle Bartley
    Mikael Silvestre
    Kieran Gibbs
    Kerrea Gilbert
    Fran Merida
    Francis Coquelin
    Craig Eastmond
    Emmanuel Frimpong
    Aaron Ramsey
    Mark Randall
    Samir Nasri
    Gilles Sunu
    Nicklas Bendtner
    Sanchez Watt

  32. “I can play him where he is needed basically,” said the manager. “I would say more in the defensive role now but, because he can dribble, he can play on the flanks too. He has pace and he can play in a role that is half a winger. A dropped winger who will come in sometimes, can go wide. But maybe it has to be balanced with a striker on the other side sometimes.”

    This is what the boss said regarding Nasri, pretty confusing eh? I re-read it many times and I’m sorry to say I’m a bit up in the air, “…..He has pace and he can play in a role that is half a winger. A dropped winger who will come in sometimes, can go wide. But maybe it has to be balanced with a striker on the other side sometimes.”


  33. personally i think its a match where we shud put in some 1st team players and sum reserves and sub reserves 2, i think almunia shud b the goalie 4 the game i agree with the back line but mybe in midfield watt-ramsey-merida-nasri and then fwd eduardo-bendtner thats a nice line up then bring vela on for nasri probley

  34. I just read that Vela is out with a knee injury ? I think the kid really is unlucky. 🙁

  35. It seems that there has crawled something out of the sewer over there. LOL.
    What a great performance from the whole team. And again the Lord Wenger surprised us, and the whole world with his line up.
    We have seen 2 wonder goals and a real strikers goal. The goal from Merida was one of the best strikes you can see. Now speaking as a football lover must admit that the Liverpool goal was also one of the best you can see on a pitch. The Bendtner goal was a real strikers goal with a great finish with his left foot.
    Nasri… what a player. His first full game in half a year and what a performance. The way he killed the game together with Eduardo shows what a senior player he is at only 22 years old.
    Eduardo came a bit later in the game but when he started his trickery on the left in the second half….. breathtaking.
    Fabianski also had a very good game, could do nothing to prevent the goal. He was standing where you should stand in the circumstances but the shot was just to good.
    Hope the moaning brigade crawls back to the stone the sat under untill last tuesday now.

  36. If we would win it would be great to know it in advance but isn’t it the other way round Tony ? Kickoff at 7.45 means it is 8.45 in Belgium so in fact we are an hour later.
    But it is rather funny sometimes. One of my sons was studying for his exams so he was looking at the live score site.
    I was watching with one of my other sons on an internet stream and suddenly he came in and said that we were running behind. He already had seen we scored our second goal so we were late … but don’t mind the delay of a few minutes, as long as we can see it somewhere live it is great.

  37. Great result! Now we can say without fear of contradiction that Lord Wenger knows what he is doing. Things may not be honky-dory all of the time, but things are much better than some other clubs.

  38. Diceman, the quote from AW above is wrongly written on the Arsenal site. He actually said “offensive role” not defensive. The wrote defensive by mistake.
    PS great match tonight. Would not of fancied extra time, the team was very tired by the end.

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