Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League and Bobby Firmino’s celebration with his pants wasn’t actually pants.Arguably our toughest run of fixtures this season: the two CL qualifiers, followed by the game against Arsenal, a (usually) disastrous international break and a meeting with ManCity to follow, ending with a revenge home tie against Sevilla. I’m not complaining, other than the fact that the international break usually ruins everything that’s going well for us. But next up: a home game against Arsenal.
Let’s start with the home team, of course. Nothing exciting or worrying; just that our best player is (again) subject to a bid from Barcelona and supposedly doesn’t want to be a part of our CL squad, just before another crucial game. Out of respect for the club, I won’t be mentioning his name. *ooooo beeeeef*Nathaniel Clyne remains sidelined by a hamstring injury, but who needs him when you have the REAL Scouse Cafu scoring wonderful free-kicks and giving his every limb for the club? Adam Lallana is also set to miss the game as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury.
Sanchez is fit for the tie. Reason to be worried? Maybe not. We know he’s a difference maker but coming off an injury and just returning to the squad, he may not even start the game. Besides, just remember who’s there to stop him (refer above image). Santi Cazorla is also injured and will miss the game against the Reds. Wenger has been spoilt for choice in the forward department with Giroud, Walcott and Welbeck waiting in the sides, but his options defensively are frail, to say the least.
Several players impressed against Hoffenheim and it seems as though Jurgen Klopp has a (good) selection headache right now. But the team pretty much picks itself, especially in such a big game. The only question that needs asking is at left-back. Does Klopp go with the experienced Milner, the revived (but volatile) Moreno, or the impressive debutant in Robertson? Only time will tell, of course, but here’s my predictions for now.
Liverpool XI: Mignolet; Trent, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Arsenal XI: Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Lacazette, Sanchez.
Liverpool: The full-backs.
In Arsenal’s 343 system, Liverpool would be most vulnerable out wide. Both full backs press high up the pitch and could be exposed on the counter. With the pace and quality in Arsenal’s front five/front six, it would be suicidal to lose position high up the pitch with both full-backs overlapping. Henderson and Can will also be expected to cover for the full-backs as much as possible, but neither are quick enough to keep up with Bellerin, Ox or Sanchez in full throttle.Arsenal: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Reports surfaced that the midfield man wants out of Arsenal as he enters the final year of his contract. He’s been a key player for Wenger and allows Arsenal to play the 343 system that they so crucially need to cover their defensive frailties. He’s been linked with a move to Liverpool and Chelsea, but he’s a boyhood Liverpool fan. There are rumours that Liverpool have bid somewhere in the region of £35million for his services, and it remains to be seen what mindset he’ll be in, as he prepares to potentially face his new club.
Games against Arsenal are always fun. Even when we have lost, the games have been generally entertaining and should prove so yet again. I’ll be watching my first Premier League game this season (because of certain personal constraints) and I hope we can pull off the win. I’m sticking with a narrow 2-1 win. Salah and Henderson to score, with The Ox grabbing a goal for the away side and refusing to celebrate, because he’s going to sign for us.