Arsenal vs Liverpool
Saturday 17.30pm GMT
Available on a TV channel you know and various glitchy online streams you’ve never heard of.
Arsenal host Liverpool in the Saturday late game which many will regard as a true acid test for how far Arsenal have actually come under new boss Unai Emery after winning twelve of their last thirteen games, while drawing the other last week away at Crystal Palace. As impressive as the above statistic is, Liverpool’s arrival at The Emirates will allow Arsenal fans to witness how their side fair versus a team, who on their day, can claim to be one of the better footballing outfits on the planet.
Indeed, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will bring intimidating amounts of both breathless attacking threat and refined defensive stability down with them to North London at the weekend. A side that under Klopp has always seemed to excel versus their top six rivals (home and away) is now managing to also grind out vital wins when they are not at their best, which is of course a common attribute of potential champions. So despite Arsenal’s excellent form of late, Liverpool will arrive at The Emirates as the favourites to claim all three points. With Sadio Mane and Mo Salah both getting over apparent dips in form in the past couple of games, the thought of a well rested Liverpool front three going up against what is still a relatively shaky (and possibly depleted) Arsenal back line will worry even the most optimistic Gooner.
The Gunners’ problems at the back will be confounded by the fact that Granit Xhaka may once again have to fill in at left back as Nacho Monreal, as well as defensive first team regulars Hector Bellerin and Sokratis, will face a late fitness test ahead of Saturday’s clash. If Arsenal stand a chance of handling the roadrunner like abilities of Mane and Salah, you feel that Bellerin and Monreal will need to be passed fit. As an out of position Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner at right back surely won’t fair well against the electric pace that Liverpool hold on the break. Thus, the ability of Arsenal’s defense being able to match up in any way to the defined stability of Liverpool’s is likely to affect the final score as much as anything else.
As when it comes to attack, it’s actually quite hard to split these two sides when they are in full flow. As mentioned above, Liverpool possess a now infamous front three as well as an ever willing Xherdan Shaqiri and now fit Daniel Sturridge to deputise up top if needs be, not to mention the attacking threat of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold from each full back position. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s recent dismantling of both Leicester and Fulham was all over parts of social media, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal versus The Foxes being an early contender for goal of the season or at least team goal of the season. In the former Dortmund forward Arsenal have a player who is likely to push for the Golden Boot this term regardless of where Arsenal themselves finish. He and number nine Alexandre Lacazette, when given sufficient dual pitch time, are a lethal combination and with eleven goals and six assists between them this season, have the firepower to blast through a defense as strong as Liverpool’s.
Though, as mentioned on thesixyardring a couple of weeks back, it might be the man pulling the strings behind the front two that could prove pivotal on Saturday evening. It’s quite simply time for Mesut Ozil to turn up in a big game such as this and provide the kind of performance it’s evident he is wholly capable of. After throwing a very mini tantrum after being subbed off last week at Palace, even though he was named captain, it’s the perfect time for Arsenal’s long time number ten to prove his cynics wrong. As clearly if he once again fades into the background on Saturday evening, his magical performance against Leicester will be quickly overshadowed by his continual inability to perform when Arsenal need him most. And Unai Emery will no doubt be hoping that his decision to take Ozil off at Palace will give the former German international the drive needed to leave his mark proceedings by the time the full time whistle blows.
Many, including former Arsenal legend Paul Merson, have written Arsenal off for this one and when comparing the defenses of both teams you can see why (one has conceded just four goals this term while the other has let in thirteen). Nevertheless, with the plethora of attacking threat that Arsenal possess coupled with the renewed life handed to the club since Unai Emery’s appointment, they could surprise a few and hand Jurgen Klopp’s side their first defeat of the season. However, if that is to happen, Arsenal need to somehow put out as strong and pacy a defense as possible to help negate Liverpool’s evident potency in attack all the while hoping that their own forward line can cut through a defense that is noticeably stronger than those of previous seasons. It’s a lazy cliche, but whatever happens there will likely be goals in this one, as with the amount of attacking threat on show, we can expect early fireworks as Guy Fawkes night approaches.
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