Good day one and all.
The Premier League clash of the weekend sees Liverpool host Arsenal at their Anfield Stadium in what could turn out being a cracker of a match.
Both teams come into this game on the back of two wins from their opening fixtures. Despite neither side looking in particular good nick, getting two from two is nothing to scoff at – the other 18 PL sides would take that in a heartbeat. The caveat however has always been that today’s game will be the yardstick.
Playing the European champions on their own patch would be a challenging task though, for any side – god knows we had our struggles there longer than we care to remember. Our last three visits alone saw us getting smashed by an aggregate score of 12-2. However, we did a bit of freshening up over the summer. So if we put on an encouraging performance and take points off of the Reds, our players and even the sceptics could feel hopeful that this particular *away match* may lead us to turning a corner – another heavy defeat, well, the rest of the season may be like déjà vu.
The Reds are currently on a 24 game unbeaten run at home in all competitions, that includes winning their last eight PL games on the bounce. They have scored 19 goals in their last six at Anfield (all competitions). So we may have to adopt an initial watchful approach to try negate their free-flowing attack play.
There are the lingering questions about our defense though. Can we defend deep, can we too be well-organized and tough to break down? Do we have the needed pragmatism to make Liverpool doubt themselves? This may be a cause for concern and deciding factor in whether to stick of twist.
Can Arsenal’s summer recruits rise to the occasion?
In recent trips up north in pursuit to go toe-to-toe with Jurgen Klopp’s side, we became unstuck by their gegenpressing. David Luiz, who was brought in specifically for his experience to tighten up our defense, will need to show that he can indeed provide the mettle needed for these fixtures. Both him and Sokratis can expect a busy evening, so they will have to hold their conjoint nerve to follow the game attentively, instead of rushing into things.
Dani Ceballos is a player I’m excited about. Okay, the hype around him is a bit extra and some use it to malign other players but that is not his doing. He’s still rough on the edges but did excel in his first start last weekend. He knows how to nick a ball in midfield and do have an eye for a pass. With more game time he’ll learn to release the ball a bit earlier, which would be something given the quality we have up top.
Our record signing Nicolas Pépé is here and is expected to make his first start. The glimpses we caught in his two cameos got our attention and it looks like we got ourselves a special un here. A front three of him, Lacazette and Aubameyang being served up for special days like these is what I’m here for. It’s long overdue that managers from the top-six clubs ahead of games against us think to themselves: “that Arsenal front three can cause us real problems”. You have to get the ball to them though. So hopefully Dani and Xhaka, who is back fit, can get on the ball comfortably to make those threaded passes to give our attacking threats enough space and service. I sure hope Unai Emery start those three together.
It’s been a while since the Anfield faithful saw their team lose at home – not since 23 April 2017. If we want to end their unbeaten run it will take a collective effort from back to front. We are in high spirits and I can’t see us going there to roll over.
Turn in a professional performance and leave it all out out there on the pitch… and we can all look forward to the rest of the season with renewed optimism.