Time in England. Let the Spin Begin!
Oh, there’s a match to be played too. Fun times!
Arsenal traveling to Anfield is one that is always up for grabs. We’re ALWAYS the better club (obviously, because we’re Arsenal) but Liverpool always offer resistance–some of the very best in the Premier League–because of their home support in their old stadium. Indeed, they will not walk alone, but will they trudge home as winners, drawers or losers?
By the way, here in the States, ‘drawers’ is another word for underwear, specifically ‘underpants’, or simply ‘pants’ in British English. Be sure to change yours regularly, what with all these tough matches coming in such quick succession… 😀
Naturally both sets of supporters will hope for the full points but both managers have to consider all the possibilities, hence all the spin. That this fixture comes in the middle of the January transfer window and directly on the heels of the 3rd round of the FA Cup–the opener for big clubs–adds to the maelstrom effect. Liverpool also had to play our next opponent (Stoke City) just a week ago in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-finals. This weekend they host their biggest local rival, Manchester United.
That’s a lot of underwear for both managers and with Klopp’s, uh, more casual look, you never know if he’s–perhaps–got a lucky pair…Should we be watching the handshakes for some nose-wrinkling?… 😀
Wenger has given (only) a sniff already at Klopp’s complaints about fixture congestion in the pre-match war of words, which, in truth, has been more like a love-in. Both managers have praised one another highly, and both, I think, have a fine appreciation of the difficulty of managing in the most competitive league in European football. It’s not just fixture congestion, it’s the fact that almost any team can beat–and beat soundly–any other team.
Liverpool have done just that amidst a less than thrilling campaign which sees them 8th in the table on 30 points. Their best moments, however, have come away from Anfield. The biggest was their 4-1 win against the light blue team from up the Mersey (Manchester City) and they also beat the defending league champions, Chelsea, 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. At home their fortunes have been more mixed, although their most recent home match was a 1-nil win over then league leaders, Leicester City. If Klopp could get a couple more here in quick succession against more traditional rivals (Arsenal and ManU) the Anfield faithful might be fully on board.
He’d probably be OK if he can get results of any sort AND do some good business in the transfer market to patch up his injury depleted squad. He had to play an almost unrecognizable team at Exeter City in the FA Cup match last Friday after losing both Phillipe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren to hamstring strains in the League Cup match at Stoke. The 2-2 result at Exeter means another Anfield match to be squeezed in somewhere (they’ve got that 2nd leg vs Stoke, too) and more chances for some fringe members of the squad to show what they’ve got in front of the home support.
One of those guys will likely be former Gunner Kolo Toure, the fittest of Klopp’s first team defenders. Kolo may have Mamadou Sakho as a partner for our match but ‘Pool are also working hard to finalize a loan deal with QPR for Steven Caulker. Will Kolo have to try and stop our attack with the former Spur?
Team captain Jordan Henderson may also be recovered enough to play and his presence might help the steady the cynical center of Liverpool’s midfield, Brazilian Lucas Leiva. With Coutinho out, Klopp may opt to bypass midfield altogether with long balls up to Christian Benteke. The former Aston Villa man can be a handful. and, if in the mood, can put them in the net or knock them down to Coutinho and Lucas’s countryman, Firminho, or Englishmen James Milner and Adam Lallana. We should also beware of Liverpool’s wide game, as fullbacks Nathan Clyne and Hector Moreno are often keen to get forward and put in crosses aimed at the Big man.
Klopp, of course, is famous for his gegenpressing teams at Borussia Dortmund. Between all the matches and all the injuries, Klopp can’t employ this tactic to the full, but, in Emre Can, a young, athletic and skilled player, he could have a guy who might be sufficient to stop our own German-Turk, Mesut Ozil. Can is a versatile player who could start in almost any outfield position. Where Klopp places him could be a tactical clue. Can-Ozil (or will the young Turk–or German–be tasked with stopping other attackers such as Theo Walcott or Aaron Ramsey or maybe putting Mathieu Flamini under pressure from an even higher starting spot) could easily be the key match-up in this one.
Can Ozil (pun intended…) get back to business after his 10 days off and who will be paired with Arsenal’s assist man? My bet is that Wenger will go back to the main group which carried us through the festive season but for the one (very big) blip at Southampton. Here’s my call for the first 11:
Subs: Macey, Gabriel, Chambers, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide
Of course, other Gooners may have other ideas and some may not be happy about restoring some of the guys who rested for the FA Cup match, particularly Mertesacker and Flamini. I think Flamini will do as he did vs Newcastle and sit very deep to organize the ranks ahead of the back four. What do you think? Is it harsh on younger guys like Kieran Gibbs, Gabriel Paulista, Calum Chambers, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi to only get bench seats after their performances vs Sunderland in the Cup match? Please share your thoughts…
I expect a very tight match–early on at least– with both managers very keen to avoid conceding an opening goal. That would be a mirror of the nil-nil we played in our stadium back in August, which makes sense. With the matches coming so thick and fast, a draw wouldn’t kill either team. Still, Klopp should want to show some attacking verve in front of the home fans and Wenger will know that it might be worth a few gambles if there’s a chance to grab all three points. In other words things might open up–a lot–once a goal goes in. So, while getting the opener would allow us to sit even tighter and play (even more) for the counter attack, we should also feel confident in breaking down Liverpool’s (injury depleted) squad and getting the ball in their net no matter what the scoreline.
As always, that’s just my take on this one. What do my fellow Kampers think? Go on then, tell us… And go on you Gunners…and…show us!!!