Rest in Peace Peter Hill-Wood and thank you for all that you did for the club – including all the silverware and the new stadium. Our thoughts are with his family.
Match Preview and Line-Up
Liverpool v Arsenal, forever a ‘classic’, is our second hard away game during the Christmas period, whilst our opponents tomorrow play their second home game in a row. The mood in that proud city could not be higher, now that Citeh has lost twice in succession and the red supporting side of this small city is becoming the favourite to win the title this season.
In recent seasons, Arsenal have struggled at Pool and there is every chance that we will be at the end of thrashing once again tomorrow. Having said that, Arsenal are only one of three teams not to be beaten by Pool, and it can be said that we could have won the home game. So there is some hope that Unai can get the tactics, team instructions and first eleven right and go home with one point, or even three points.
High confidence can sometimes lame a home team as we have seen so often during the Wenger glory years, and post-glory years. If we beat Pool and they then drop points at Citeh, we could even be back in the title race… but let’s not get carried away.
I guess our big issue will be once again the lack of quality in defence, further hampered by fitness issues: Monreal, Mustafi and Bellerin are all doubts for example (and Holding is out of course).
I have no clue how Emery will set up the team and who he will pick, but I reckon we have to play 3-4-3 – or 3-4-1-2 to be precise – to have a chance.
My ‘dream’ starting 11:
Leno in goal but Cech would be good too. I guess Leno is the nr.1 now so let’s go with him.
A back three of Koz – Sok – Mustafi is ideal but it will depend on the fitness of Mustafi. I have a feeling he will be fit for this one.
The Wing-backs for me are Kola and Rambo, with both under strong instruction to be defenders first. Pool will press us into our own half and we need experienced players with speed and aggression (Kola) and good passing (Rambo) to beat the press and get the three front men into play. Rambo will also strengthen the central midfield which is key when playing Pool: we must not let them settle there.
Please let it be Xhaka-Torreira in the centre of midfield again. If not, I have no hope whatsoever for a positive result. This is not a game for the adventurous Guendouzi in deeper midfield.
Up-front it has to be harasser Lacazette to give the Pool defence something to worry about. We all know that Auba loves to run into space and that Ozil is the man to find space and spring the counter-attacks for us – and Pool will leave space behind their defence. Absolutely key is for Emery to trust Ozil and to give him a free role in das Loch.
Both Xhaka and Torreira can also quickly switch-over from defending to attacking, and if we start with Auba and Laca there is every chance that we will score at Anfield. Having said that, I would also be happy for Auba to come on in the second half and Iwobi to start. The Nigerian is good at controlling the ball in tight spaces in our own half and help us spring counter-attacks.
I think we would have a decent chance with the above team, subject to fitness of Mustafi. Will Unai have similar first-11 thoughts? Doubt it.