Saturday, 2 November 2013

Arsenal vs Liverpool: Match Preview

Arsenal will face off Liverpool in what would undoubtedly be an entertaining clash today. It's hard to say which team has the edge - but I would go with Arsenal, because we're playing it at the Emirates Stadium.

Even so, we haven't been as clinical at home as one would want us to be. Recent defeats to Dortmund and Chelsea have dipped the mood of the Arsenal faithful a bit. We aren't making the Emirates a fortress, which was evident when the chants of 9000 Chelsea fans singing "Jose Mourinho" outshone the 50,000 quiet Arsenal fans. We have a fantastic away support, no doubt, but the fact that we're struggling for results in our own home is a bit of a worry for me. We are going to play about 50% of our games there, you know.

Anyway, be it at the Emirates or Anfield, a win would be simply great because it would maintain our lead and put our title rivals five points off the pace. However, I would be really surprised if we manage to win this game, especially because Liverpool have been largely impressive thus far. Brendan Rodgers and Daniel Sturridge are looking like men possessed, who want to prove a point this summer. The return of Suarez was followed by 6 goals in his past 5 games, which is nothing short of astounding. Despite my distaste of his character, I can't deny that Suarez is in the form of his life.

It's a frightening thought to put our unpredictable defence against the most potent attacking duo in the Premier League. Without Flamini (who might return for the Manchester United clash), our defence looks more porous than ever, and it would truly be a marvel if we manage a clean sheet in this fixture.
Wenger sees this game as an opportunity to prove our title credentials, by saying:

“Yes, [it’s a big week] considering the quality of the opponents. But we have a good opportunity on Saturday to make a difference and we want to take it. We play against Liverpool at home, it's an exciting game but, as well, it's of massive importance for us.”

The team should line up in the usual back five of Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs. I think that Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey will occupy the central midfield role, with Ozil playing as an attacking midfielder. While Santi is set to start on the left wing, the manager has a dilemma as to whom to start on the right. I think that he will opt for Jack Wilshere over Rosicky, which for me, is the right choice. Jack seems to be finding his feet on the right wing, and while it is only temporary, at the moment, he's the best we've got there. [UPDATE: Reports suggest that Wilshere has aggravated his ankle injury. Rosicky seems set to start now] Of course, Olivier Giroud will start as our striker, and will hope to damage their defence.

It's a tough game to call this, but I'm going for a draw. In hindsight, it won't be a bad result, because we would still maintain our lead on the top, albeit only by goal difference if Chelsea win by a one-goal margin. A win would be a brilliant result, and would show that this team can indeed give a good fight for the title. We should be in for a cracker, either ways.

Come on Arsenal. If you want to be the best, you need to take out the best.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )