By Bulldog Drummond
Injury lists are of course getting increasingly meaningless, since club injury lists can show maybe four or five players out, and then the next thing we know the club is claiming that it can’t play the game because of the number of players who are unavailable allegedly with covid infection.
In fact what we ought to be doing is calling this an “unavailable” list. Here is Arsenal’s
- Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes: Suspended for a sending-off offence.
- Granix Xhaka: returning from Covid. 50/50 chance of being available.
- Takehiro Tomiyasu: Hopefully recovering from calf injury. Having a late fitness test and listed as 75% likely to play
- Emile Smith Rowe: Similar situation to Takehiro Tomiyasu.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Has Coronavirus, and is also at the African Cup of Nations
- Thomas Partey, Mo Elneny, Nicolas Pepe: all at the African Cup of Nations.
- Folarin Baolgun: Recovering from illness.
Liverpool’s list is…
- Nathaniel Phillips: ruled out after a head injury
- Alisson Becker: Covid 19
- Thiago: Alcantara: hip injury
- Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita: all at the Africa Cup of Nations
- Trent Alexander-Arnold: Coronavirus
- Divock Origi: Knee injury, not yet training again
- Harvey Elliott: Ankle or foot injury
So both clubs are having their troubles with injury, Africa and covid.
But we might get a little more insight from the recent games tables… In the last six games Arsenal have been slightly better than Liverpool in all departments – more points, more goals and better defence.
And here is the top of the Last 10 league games league
This time Liverpool are slightly better than Arsenal.
So despite the general depiction of Arsenal as a team falling apart at the seams and Liverpool as a team marching every more firmly forward, their difference across the last six and ten league games is not that great. The prime difference between the clubs is in terms of their home and away form, and this gives Liverpool a major advantage for Thursday’s game. And indeed the reversal of the games so that Liverpool play initially at home must have been most pleasing for them.
Liverpool are also one of the few teams who have beaten Arsenal more than Arsenal have beaten them, Liverpool winning 92 to Arsenal’s 81.
But it is over recent seasons that Liverpool have emphasised their difference. Indeed in the last 16 games between the two sides (dating back to August 2015), Arsenal have only won three times. Once in the league, once in the League Cup, and once on penalties after a Community Shield game. All three of these more positive results were in 2020. Since we have lost to them twice, once by 3-0 and once by 4-0.
And yet curiously, before this period Arsenal had a much better run against Liverpool. Between 23 December 2001 and 24 August 2015 Arsenal played Liverpool 36 times in the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Community Shield, the League Cup and the Champions League. 18 of the games (exactly half) were won by Arsenal. 13 were draws and Liverpool won just six.
So yes, things come and go, but the last five games from an Arsenal perspective have not been as bad as some of the media like to suggest.
|15 Jul 2020||Arsenal v Liverpool||W||2-1||Premier League|
|29 Aug 2020||Arsenal v Liverpool||W||1-1||FA Community Shield|
|28 Sep 2020||Liverpool v Arsenal||L||3-1||Premier League|
|01 Oct 2020||Liverpool v Arsenal||W||0-0||League Cup*|
|03 Apr 2021||Arsenal v Liverpool||L||0-3||Premier League|
|20 Nov 2021||Liverpool v Arsenal||L||4-0||Premier League|
*Won on penalties
That is three wins each in the last six. The Arsenal team for our last victory – the penalty shoot out after the goalless draw in the League Cup was