It doesn’t get any easier for Arsenal. The disappointing draw to Leicester, the loss to Spurs, and now the newly crowned Champions come to visit. For a while, after Liverpool won the league, it looked like they’d taken their foot off the gas. Maybe it was the ManCity humiliation, but despite their draw with Burnley, they now seem more focused. They missed out on Invincibility but are hoping to grab their own piece of history with a record points total.
Not so long ago Liverpool were in a similar situation to where Arsenal are now, which should offer us some hope. Of course there are no guarantees. In 1996 Liverpool and a few other teams were in a better position than Arsenal but we leapfrogged them due to a transformative manager. The Scousers may not appreciate it, but what Klopp did with Dortmund and with them, I liken it to the impact of Arsene Wenger on Monaco and Arsenal. I can’t give a football manager higher praise than that. Here’s hoping Arteta can, and will be allowed to, be the same for us.
If this reads more like a look into the future than a match preview, it’s because the only real significance of this match is to measure ourselves against the best. Our easiest route to Europe lies through the FA Cup, with ManCity and a deranged Pep waiting for us in the semi final. What did I say about it not getting easier?
Expect some rotation
Although Arteta said nothing new on Ozil, Mesut was involved in first team training yesterday and his tweet led to a million tiny explosions. Both of the orgasmic and the apoplectic variety. So, nothing new then.
The manager did point out how gruelling the schedule has been physically, and, apart from that against Spurs, Arsenal have gone into every game with less rest than their opponents. Just the PL being the PL. What this might mean though is that some rotation might be on the cards. I don’t think many people have commented on how much of a machine Xhaka has been. He wasn’t at his sharpest against Spurs and I think fatigue played a part. Same for Mustafi and Auba too. Maybe we’ll see Torreira starting in midfield. I’m still not sure about Ozil. I hope so. We need some creativity in the side, from an aesthetic point of view if nothing else.
Liverpool will be going all out with their gegenpress swarm, and we’ll need to both hold them off and hold on to the ball. Certainly not self destruct like we did against Spurs. Hopefully the players were disgusted and annoyed enough to carry some fire into this game. I’m sure they want to test themselves against a team 43 points ahead of us in the table too. Maybe Auba can continue his quest for another Golden Boot. He’s 3 behind Vardy with 3 games left.
Anyway, I hope it will be an entertaining game. That we can hold our own. And that it will be a clean game not ruined by bad tackles and/or horrible refereeing. Any positive result will be a bonus.
Written by Shard aka @shardgooner
Hey Shard. I was wondering whether George and me were overly pessimistic and doom-mongering in our pod yesterday. Thanks for the reminder that Liverpool went through their years of mid-table mediocrity. Hope springs eternal and all that.
My ambitious and optimistic take is that we can be champions in two seasons. But I don’t trust Raul to make the right moves for it.