For the second time in a matter of days Arsenal make the long trip to Anfield to face Liverpool; this time for a spot in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup. The Gunners lost to the Reds on Monday night in a Premier League clash, 3-1.
Good day one all.
In spite of improvements since Mikel Arteta’s arrival, Monday was a reminder that we still got a long way to go if we are to challenge for the Premier League title; which champions Liverpool are favourites to retain while we are hoping to get back into the top-four. I say this because in the face of defeat it is easy to lose perspective.
The last two seasons Liverpool got 97 and 99 points respectively, while Arsenal finished the last four outside the top-four. The last three seasons we averaged 63 points. It sucks but is the reality of where these teams are at the moment.
Unai Emery arrived as a quick fix to get us back to the Champions League spots, after finishing outside it in Arsène Wenger’s last two seasons, but all he did was rip the soul out of this team. Seasoned professionals were forced out, others froze out, a few others want out and most whom he signed are on their way out. That is the dung Mikel stepped into and the wreckage from which he has to start the rebuild in his first job in the hot seat. Then there are those in charge of the club who are not playing with a full deck, which force him to put on a brave face and just try to get on with it. So without a full season nor a pre-season, seems unfair to be aiming brickbats at him – in my opinion at least.
Be that as it may, Liverpool were where we are and Jurgen Klopp didn’t turn it around overnight, but it took patience, smart recruitment, trust from the fans and so much more.
Today they’re a machine, especially at home where they are practically invincible. They didn’t had it all their way the other night though, despite the 3-1 score, we caught their defense flat-footed a few times and, on another day, may have pinched a point. Alas, we live to fight another day.
Mikel has done well and really seem to enjoy these battles against the ‘big six’ in Cup games… and with Klopp expecting to make sweeping changes, who knows. Still, any trip to Anfield remains one of the toughest in English football and if we are to get the better of them, the Spaniard will be asking a lot more from his players than they showed the other night.
Mikel Arteta is expected to ring in the changes as well, however, they are not be as fancy as his German counterpart, as we are still limited due to injury concerns.
Cédric Soares and Sokratis (unless on his way out) are available, which can help ease said concerns, and this is an ideal opportunity for them to get some minutes under their belts.
Gabriel Magalhães, a surprise omission Monday, Dani Ceballos and Bukayo Saka are all expected back. Maybe Runar Alex Runarsson and William Saliba will finally make their competitive debuts.
Arsenal have not beaten Liverpool on the road since September 2012 in all competitions but, all things considered, I wouldn’t bet against us. Cup games are refereed more evenly, which opens things a bit.
While the game may not live up that epic 5-5 showdown of last season, I doubt it will be short on entertainment. COYG!