Arsenal Up Against It At Anfield

Preview of the away match v Liverpool

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Ozil – This can’t go on

The usual five talking points ahead of today’s Premier League away game at Liverpool

Well, there’s only one place to start…
Mesut Ozil did not make the trip to Anfield because, the press informs us, of a knee pain. Ozil trained with the squad yesterday morning, and unfortunately, his reputation has many thinking he is not injured, but has been dropped, or declared himself unfit if he found out he would not be starting the match against Liverpool. Perhaps the injury is genuine, but would ‘knee pain’ have stopped one of the 1970-71 team from taking the pitch? Times change. On the assumption Emery has given up on his number 10, the club have a £350k a week problem on their hands. They would have lost him on a free last summer. Time to cut their losses?

Arsenal’s Invincibles achievement under threat
Halfway through the Premier League season, and Jurgen Klopp’s side have yet to suffer a defeat. Their next two matches are very significant in the light of the idea they might go through the entire campaign undefeated and replicate Arsenal’s achievement of 2003-04. First, they play the club that are the only one to achieve the feat since Victorian times. Granted, Arsenal beating the league leaders at home looks a long shot, but it’s certainly in their interest to not have to rely on anyone else. Next up, Liverpool travel to Man City on the evening of Thursday 3rd January. If Arsenal do not win today, I suspect all Gunners will be rooting for Pep Guardiola’s side in that game. If Liverpool do manage to avoid defeat there, their only other remaining match away to a ‘top six’ side is the visit to Old Trafford in late February. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

A test of Unai Emery’s tactics
Assuming Mesut Ozil was dropped, it does suggest a horses for courses approach in Emery’s tactics for this match. Supply to Liverpool’s front three has to be kept to a minimum, which means every single player pressing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 5-3-2 formation with only Lacazette and Aubameyang as the attacking selections, although this assumes enough fit defenders so that Grant Xhaka is not one of the back three. Emery has faced Liverpool with his Arsenal side once already, so he will have the measure of what to expect. Will his side press high up the pitch, fighting fire with fire, or sit deeper and try to pick Liverpool off on the counter attack? Who’d be a manager?

Defensive options
Late fitness tests for Mustafi, Bellerin and Monreal will determine Emery’s selection. If either of Mustafi or Monreal play, then Xhaka will move forward into midfield. Even with a back three of, for example, Mustafi, Koscielny and Sokratis, Arsenal have looked far from solid this season. Liverpool’s forwards are likely to make more of opportunities than the majority of other Premier League sides. Is anyone actually looking forward to this game?

Klopp years offer perspective
Some fans anticipate immediate progress under Emery, without seeing the bigger picture. I looked back at the eleven that started Jurgen Klopp’s first game as Liverpool manager, back in October 2015. It was: Mignolet – Clyne / Skrtel / Sakho / Moreno – Leiva / Can / Milner – Lallana / Coutinho / Origi. Subs: Kolo Toure / Allen / Ibe / Bogdan / Sinclair / Teixeira / Randall. Of those 18 players, Milner remains a regular in the starting eleven, Lallana comes on from the bench, and aside from Mignolet and Moreno (who have hardly featured this season), I am uncertain any of the others remain at the club. Klopp took his team to a Europa League final in his first (albeit foreshortened) season, however what strikes me is that he was in charge for 30 Premier League matches after taking over from Brendan Rodgers, but Liverpool only finished in 8th place that season. In the following two campaigns, they were fourth, reaching the Champions League final in the second. But to get his team playing to their optimum, there have been a lot of ins and outs. This has not been an overnight process by any means. Gooners may have to be patient.

Sorry people, it’s hide behind the sofa time. The only upside of a heavy defeat is that it should leave no doubt for the decision makers at the club that they need to invest in defensive quality in the January transfer market. The bookies leave us in no doubt that they expect a home win. Liverpool are currently 4/9 on and you can get 6/1 there on an Arsenal winI have a scoreline in my head, but I can’t bring myself to say it. Let’s just say that although Arsene has left the building, his legacy lingers on. There will, I imagine, be a minute’s silence for former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood before the game, and it’ll be downhill from there on. Football, of course, is full of surprises. I just don’t see one in this fixture.


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  1. markymark

    Dec 30, 2018, 12:15 #112787

    I presume when we are mentioning defensive coaching we mean Bould? There’s one thing that has still not improved to any great extent over the last 5 years or so . Our running stats have gone from 8th to first I gather hence no room for the jogger Ozil. How we deliver our own Gegenpress when we are so exposed to the over head ball is one to ponder . The Spuds did us twice this way last week. The even more clinical Liverpool even more so. They’ll have to back him in the transfer market but in defence I can’t see why we are not backing our own reserves and buys from the Championship sides. Most of these defenders are younger , far quicker and have been relatively well schooled. The risk factor is probably less than playing a slow back 4

  2. Paulo75

    Dec 29, 2018, 23:41 #112782

    I think the blame on Kroenke’s lack of spending is a convenient myth with a front two at £50m each and Ozil on £350k per week. The post Wenger recruitment has been poor and to me the lack of defensive coaching is clearly evident. Emery needs time and money but as things stand we are no further forward 6 months into the new regime as far as I can see. Mustafi, Xhaka, Lichtsteiner, Iwobi, Leno = £100m plus down the drain. Not to mention our “injured” messiah.

  3. Bard

    Dec 29, 2018, 23:00 #112781

    Today was surely not a surprise, we have been cruising for a hammering for a while. I actually think it's a blessing as the powers that be have to buy in the Jan window. Defensively we are as poor as we were under Wenger. If we dont buy we will be struggling for 6th/7th. Over to the backroom team.

  4. markymark

    Dec 29, 2018, 20:31 #112780

    Emery needs a big transfer window . They’ll have to have a think about the European older defence purchases. With the pace of the premiership it must point to younger defenders from the championship preferably British . A young nippy defence that can be coached is surely no more risk than experienced but very slow defenders we have now. It’ll be a challenge for Unai as our base will be far less tolerant of hammerings than under Wenger. Whoever said this was a blessing in disguise I reckon Is probably right

  5. mad max

    Dec 29, 2018, 20:30 #112779

    I think emery is getting unfairly criticised some of the signings are clearly not his, sokratis,leno,mustafi are all sven mstinlats signings, auba also but he is quality. they've made him head coach not manager like wenger who had too much power, emery has far less say in signings. a lot of our problems come from poor recruitment we only made two decent signings torreira and guendozi, leno is a shocking choice as a keeper, lichtsteiner 34 year old has been, xhaka is not good enough to in the premier league least of all at the arsenal, and why the hell is steve bould still there what the hell does he do?.worrying times ahead only bright side is we have 2 or 3 young quality boys coming thru amn, es rowe and get nelson back from germany pronto.

  6. KC38

    Dec 29, 2018, 20:08 #112778

    The issue here is Emery's style requires good individual defensive players and we simply have awful ones. Goals conceded all sesaon has been poor. There will be a lot of scrutiny on his signings and as kronke is a crap owner I'm guessing the money won't be there which makes it hard to be successful playing this style.

  7. John F

    Dec 29, 2018, 19:46 #112777

    We looked good going forward but just hopeless defending.The problem is this owner will not spend any serious money on the solution and Dic k has never been known for the defensive side of the game.

  8. KC38

    Dec 29, 2018, 19:02 #112776

    Our defensive acquisitions are shocking. Emery said this is a good test of where we are yep the score line tells us exactly where we are. We are so bad at the back not helped by that James blunt called Xhaka.

  9. Paulo75

    Dec 29, 2018, 18:56 #112775

    What a bad joke. Where is the defensive coaching? Three of the starting defence are new signings. Not sure any of them are an upgrade. We are so weak away from home it’s embarassing. All too familiar. Pathetic

  10. Paulo75

    Dec 29, 2018, 18:55 #112774

    What a bad joke. Where is the defensive coaching? Three of the starting defence are new signings. Not sure any of them are an upgrade. We are so weak away from home it’s embarassing. All too familiar. Pathetic

  11. KC38

    Dec 29, 2018, 18:40 #112773

    Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. Emery will have to act as it’s obvious to all that we have low level players defensively. Not sure there is a good defender at the club!

  12. KC38

    Dec 29, 2018, 18:30 #112772

    You cannot take Arsenal seriously as a major football club anymore. Emery has certainly improved us offensively but we defend like a Sunday team. Not sure if Emery can coach defending and that’s a worry. The tactics and the individuals are simply a joke, I would suggest we require a whole new back 4. We will give the coach time but goals are being conceded from straight long balls, Wenger turned us into a laughing stock defensively and there is no sight of improvement at all. With an owner does not want to input cash and a coach that struggles to do defence the future is not bright. We still concede for fun against the most ordinary teams, we go one up and bang concede, the same at Utd. How can we be so crap defensively?

  13. mbg

    Dec 29, 2018, 18:18 #112771

    F*****g embarrassing.

  14. mbg

    Dec 29, 2018, 17:34 #112769

    Any injury he has or doesn't have won't stop him clubbibg tonight, typical wenger fairy, f*****g bottler.

  15. 1971 Gooner

    Dec 29, 2018, 14:29 #112768

    Well, I for one was bricking it before the Spurs game mainly due to our defensive shortcomings. Today for some reason, us being so universally unfancied for this game makes me think we might get something out of it. We know what Auba and Laca can do when they’re on their game, and do have some top cynical foul merchants in Lichtsteiner and Sokratis. COYG!

  16. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Dec 29, 2018, 11:58 #112767

    Let's face it if Harry Kane can get an MBE for winning f*ck all with the Spuds and captaining England to defeats against Belguim and Croatia we must stand a chance of a draw! Seriously Mane's pace will be our undoing, very tough teatime coming today.

  17. John F

    Dec 29, 2018, 11:47 #112766

    It is not the defeat but the manner of the defeat.Most of us are expecting to lose but I do hope we put up more of a fight then we have in recent trips to Anfield.

  18. Rob Admin

    Dec 29, 2018, 11:41 #112765

    Liverpool are banging them in and Arsenal can't keep a clean sheet for love nor money and given that the early season feel good factor is fast rubbing off I can't see anything but a comprehensive pasting today. A draw would be a fantastic result, a win a miracle. 3-1 to the league leaders is my prediction.