Mar 3rd, 2017 by 'holic
Twelve days after ending Sutton United’s FA Cup dreams we are finally back in action again in the north-west on a Saturday live on television. What could possibly go wrong? Well if that sounds nervous it isn’t meant to. Would you believe it if I told you on our last nine Premier League visits to Anfield we have lost just one? You should, even though that one was the still fresh in the memory 5-1 mauling three years ago.
Both sides will be understandably nervous ahead of what is a very important match in the hunt for a top four, or preferably top three finish. We may not be in a rich vein of form but the hosts have endured a dismal 2017 so far, winning just one league match this year. They will be without skipper Jordan Henderson which some might argue would strengthen them! They are also missing Daniel Sturridge with a hip strain.
We on the other hand can call on a relatively fresh squad minus just Santi Cazorla and Mohamed Elneny. There will be concern however about the form and health of Mesut Ozil. We will see the real deal again but if there are any doubts about his condition on Saturday it might be better for us to bite the bullet and change things around.
Petr Cech will probably get the nod to start in goal but the fact that even he is no longer an automatic selection is a testament to our recent form. If Laurent Koscielny is one hundred percent then he should return alongside Skhodran Mustafi and Hector Bellerin. The boss faces an intriguing pick at left-back to oppose the dangerous Mane. Neither Nacho Monreal nor Keiran Gibbs have been at their best defensively this season.
Whilst the feeling persists that Ozil will start in front of, probably, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Granit Xhaka, the alternative of a midfield three with Aaron Ramsey perhaps coming in for the misfiring German has some appeal. It may be more of a surprise than a nervous Liverpool could cope with. Let’s get on the front foot and master our own destiny.
Theo Walcott may hold off the challenge of Lucas of whom Arsene Wenger appears to be unsure, despite his goals when called upon. Alexis Sanchez will be asked to press high again and make a nuisance of himself. The fact that Danny Welbeck missed a third consecutive U-23 start on Friday means, I hope, that he is being considered for a start ahead of Alex Iwobi on the left. He would also provide more cover for whoever will be at left-back.
Arsene hinted at the possible change of plan ahead of the contest, frankly admitting,
“Our recent history has not been so positive in big games away from home, but I am convinced we have the quality and maybe we have to adapt the style a little bit as well. It’s important that we have a positive result in a big game like this.”
The ‘holic pound
Those who have already watched or listened to this week’s A Bergkamp Wonderland live podcast (embedded below so you can’t miss it!) will have heard me tip a come from behind 1-2 to the Arsenal. Paddy Power offer a market best 12/1 against that, which appears a generous price, but remember only Swansea have spirited all three points away from Anfield this season. Even while out of form the scousers remain difficult to beat in front of their home support.
As ever the away section is sold out despite the late kick-off. Let’s hope we can kick-start a big week with a return to something resembling good form to provide a lift for the two very different home tests that follow in the Champions League and the FA Cup. A huge week is looming for Arsene Wenger.
Have a great one, ‘holics.