It’s the weekend again, and the start of another hectic Christmas-New Year football period. It doesn’t get any tougher than visiting Anfield to play Liverpool. Yes, the very same Liverpool that gave us a 5-1 spanking last season, finished 2nd in the league, missed the title by a whisker and scored 101 goals in the process.
It all seems ages ago now. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge running riot in every game they played. Steven Gerrard driving his troops and even Jordan Henderson looked good. Liverpool, this season look a pale shadow of last season. Luis Suarez has moved on to Barcelona for £75 million, and scored his first La Liga goal, last evening in a 5-0 thrashing of poor Cordoba. Daniel Sturridge is injured. Daniel Agger has moved to his beloved Copenhagen for a paltry £3 million, and Brendan Rodgers’ swathe of signings, costing him £119 million over the summer has massively backfired.
While they are still alive in the League Cup, winning 3-1 at Championship high-flyers Bournemouth, they lie at 9th in the league table, and were unceremoniously knocked out of a Champions League group comprising Real Madrid, FC Basel and Ludogoretz Razgard. The trio of signings from Southampton (Adam Lallana for £25 million, Dejan Lovren for £20 million and Rickie Lambert for £4million), Serbian winger Lazar Markovic for £20 million from Benfica, Emre Can for £10 million from Bayer Leverkusen, Divock Origi for £12 million from Lille and the madcap maverick Mario Balotelli for £16 million from AC Milan, have all spectacularly failed to deliver, bar Alberto Moreno for £12 million from Sevilla, who has been decent so far.
Arsenal, have struggled themselves too, but after a week of two 4-1 wins, and a week of rest ahead of the crunch fixtures, the Gunners look raring to go. This could be an exciting match to watch. With both West Ham and Southampton winning last night, taking themselves to 4th and 5th on the table, both sides will be under pressure to deliver. A win for Arsenal would mean creating a gap of 8 points between them and Liverpool, and level on points with 5th placed Southampton, but a win for Liverpool would take them into 9th spot, just 2 points behind Arsenal.
Arsenal have some injury concerns easing up, with the week of rest they have had. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nacho Monreal and Theo Walcott all face late fitness tests. Callum Chambers is back after a suspension. However, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere remain unavailable for selection. For Liverpool, Mario Balotelli serves a one match suspension for breaking FA rules on social media, Dejan Lovren faces a late fitness test, while Daniel Sturridge and Glen Johnson are out.
Arsenal’s main concerns are in defence. The partnership of Callum Chambers and Per Mertesacker is yet to convince. But, with Mathieu Debuchy back at his preferred right back position, there is some solidity in the backline. Both Chambers and Mertesacker are too similar, and a player like Koscielny who has more pace and drive than the two compliments them better. A player like Raheem Sterling will definitely look to exploit this weakness, and this is where Arsenal have to be alert at all times.
Here’s how I expect the teams to line up.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
While you are about it, follow Blazing Cannons on twitter. @blazingcannons
And do like, the Facebook page as well.
Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!