Pepe, Auba, Laca (PALs) v Firmino, Mane, Salah: Fireworks at Anfield – Preview!


A lot of our Arsenal faithful are scared of this fixture, Liverpool at Anfield. Zero points there does not worry them. They are anxious of yet another pounding.

My best pal is a football guru. He knows the game of football so well. He happens to be a fanatical Liverpool supporter. He has thought over the call from several quarters that Emery should mirror the Liverpool team with these players that he has and he tells me that this fixture against Arsenal scares him to death. There you are, this world of opposites. I go for the bottom line: mutual respect.

Should Emery build his team in the image of Klopp’s Liverpool? Mane, Firmino, Salah: Auba, Laca, Chili Pepe. These front threes are of course the bases for these calls. Is it enough a base for such calls?

Salah and Pepe are so similar: direct, quick feet, strictly left footed, don’t need a back lift, wide right, love to cut inside. One though is 3 inches taller and better with his head.

Mane and Auba are no identical twins: Auba’s game is based on movement and positioning, a genius at getting at the end of things. If he is asked to expand his game by for example stationing him as a winger, he goes like a bee line. Mane, Auba’s supposed image is so difficult to define, but he is ubiquitous, troublesome and dangerous.

Firmino and Laca: they are both supposed to be the point men but both love playing deep. That’s maybe as far as they mirror themselves. Forget the name tag, Firmino is a midfielder. He loves joining in building up play. He is the overload that Klopp’s Liverpool use in dominating the central areas, but give him one tiny opening and he is in the box banging in the goal. Laca is more of a false 9 who has it all too but who when he gets the ball deep is consumed by the vision of the space between the woodwork. That makes him a lot more direct than Firmino.

Terrific front 3 for both teams, but they are no spitting image of each other, neither are the other areas of the team. Liverpool have a very hardworking midfield but they don’t have an Ozil or a Ceballos. Their creative midfielder Keita is out of this fixture. However the creativity they lack in the midfield they more than compensate for in their full backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold (12 assists 18/19), Andrew Robertson (11 assists). When I think about Liverpool, I don’t think about the so called FAB 3, I think about these two British boys and a certain hulky Dutchman.

Talking about the defensive aspect of their back line, suffice it to say that they are mean at conceding goals except that for this fixture there would be a certain bloke by name Adrian who isn’t very good with the ball at his feet. Our boys would do well to be all over him the first 10 minutes to damage the confidence of the team playing out of the back.

My friend, the football guru, fears that Liverpool are playing with a phobia. Not the fear of Arsenal or United or Watford, but the fear of losing points. They might as well not be participating in the EPL. They are in a nightmarish two-horse race with a hydra-headed monster who sits the best players in Europe on the bench. This phobia my friend says is affecting their game. Am tended to agree with him and if we can simply play our game, the outcome would be anybody’s guess. It is important for us to stay aware that Josh has buried the £40m-inferiority-complex in a 6ft deep grave.

The way I see it, Emery is not going to ape something else. Arsenal is on its own journey.

I might have missed a trick or two so Emery, maybe should set up like Liverpool. What do you think? Give us your preferred line up.

By PE.

31 thoughts on “Pepe, Auba, Laca (PALs) v Firmino, Mane, Salah: Fireworks at Anfield – Preview!

  • Cheers PE for a great preview. It fits really well with GN5s historic preview and it shows also respect for our opponent. They deserve that but we really can get something from this game if Unai can get his tactics rights (and first 11). Liverpool’s strength is indeed not just those fab three but also their wings AND their solid defence and attack. That is a lot to fight against and as always the biggest challenge for us (Emery’s Arsenal) will lay in midfield. You know my views re this so no point in repeating myself. Let’s see what Emery will come up with… COYRRGs!!!!!!!!!

  • TA, am with you fully that the midfield, most likely, would decide this game. But Emery’s most important decision might be the choice between playing all of our PAL front 3 or starting with just 2 of them. The latter appeals more to me because it automatically strengthens the midfield.

    My prediction is a 4:4:2 with a diamond midfield:-


    Bench: Martinez, Chambers, Kolasinac, Torreira, Ozil, Mkhi, Lacazette.

  • Yes PE, or even just one of them and put Mkhi on the wing.. You know my first 11 is per your defence and then Xhaka and Torr, Ozil, Willock, Ceballos and Pepe and Auba. Men needed for this one and I believe Willock is more allround a midfielder than the Luiz look-a-like.. 🙂

  • TA, you forgot the keeper. You have to take one man off. Maybe Pepe. I like your one only of the PAL. Klopp wouldn’t be expecting it. If necessary one or both would be introduced from the bench.

  • Very good preview, PE. I think Emery won’t start all three PAL Away at Liverpool (unless he has gone full Wenger), so I expect it to be two, from the start. Lacazette and Auba will be my guess; Laca has to always start the big games. That’s his thing, big games and ruffling VVD’s feathers.
    The rest of your suggestions, I like, re the Diamond midfield. It is also possible we start with 3 in midfield (Torreira, Xhaka and Ceballos) and Mkhi from the right wing.

    Rest of the team picks itself. I expect us to be calm, confident and yet aggressive upfront. Auba May just catch Adrian off guard to score one, as he tries to get accustomed to playing out the back. It will be interesting, whatever the result.

  • Eris, you might be right about Laca. Against Liverpool all round hardworkers are invaluable. Auba and Pepe are a bit too specialized to have the two of them on the field. I have just been reminded that in our last encounter with Liv, Auba made only 14 touches before being substituted about the seventy-something minute. So might be better if its Laca plus one of Auba/Pepe for keeping their back line worried.

    As you said Emery might start Mkhi but I’d rather he adds Willock to your middle three.

    Emery’s big picture, IMO, should be to neutralize Liv in the 1st half, then up it offensively in the final 30 mins or so. The large picture is always easy, but fixing in the details against this excellent Liv team is damn complex.

  • That stat also stated that 6 of those 14 touches were from the centre circle kick-off and re-starts for each goal. Not a very good one; our midfield link-up with attack was just non-existent.

    I agree with your ‘big picture’ scenario, so long as we keep them worried as we neutralize them. We can’t afford to sit back too much. Well, the day is upon us already. 🤞🤞

  • “our midfield link-up with attack was just non-existent” @ Eris. That dramatizes why emphasis today should be the midfield.

  • Hey PE, Knowing today would be about the football, I pretty much took yesterday off…as it seems a few others did as well. I’m up early this morning, catching the end of the goal-fest at Norwich (Abraham just got his 2nd for Chelsea to give them the lead again). Cheers for the interesting preview…

    In truth, I think (and I’ve said it before) that Emery got the results that he needed in the first two games so this one is almost a “can’t lose” proposition. I hate to say it, but this fixture last season (right after the turn of the year and the start of the 2nd half of the season), I think, is where Emery lost (more than) a bit of the team. Scoring first but then conceding 5 showed that–even when the “plan” worked–he didn’t have the system (nor the quality of players) to complete the job. Wenger haters would blame the previous coach (and the players Emery inherited), however, but that’s not how I saw it. Now, more than half a season later, we’re deeper into new management and their ideas–and a slew of new players, too. Surely, we can’t do worse?… Surely…

    The attacking players (for both teams) indeed look interesting though I’m not quite sure about your assessments of the individuals and who mirrors whom. (Salah seems a #10–to me–and as close to a Messi-esque player as England has seen for quite awhile.) The notes about wide players and midfield maestros (or lack thereof) on both teams also seem a bit wishful. I rate the other Dutch fellow (Wijnaldum) and guys like Fabinho and Milner tend to get the job done, whereas I feel we rely on incomplete (or less than well-rounded…) players (or very young ones). I will agree that both teams are probably at their best when they’ve got space ahead of them and can move the ball quickly through the center of the pitch or out wide to players who can then drive at a post, swing in a cross or pull the ball back to the scorers. As such, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Emery reverts to a 3 (5) at the back scheme, after all, that’s how he finished the match vs Burnley.

    Enough said–for now–or at least I should keep my powder dry for the live-blog (which I’ll try and put up when the line-ups are out). Still, plenty of time for speculation, so here’s my best guess at Emery’s 11–and, despite what I’m saying about a back 3 (5) probably being a good (or maybe more conservative) way to approach this one, I’ll stump for an unchanged line-up.

    AMN, Sok, Luiz, Nacho
    Willock, Guendouzi
    PEA, Lacazette, Nelson

    Bench = Martinez, Chambers, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Torriera, Ozil, Pepe

  • TA, Are we giving up on the “pick-5” game after just one week?

    If so, does that make me the winner for this season? You can send me a kit (an Ozil 10–or 11, please…) that you find at a charity shop… 😉

  • Hi all..
    It’s less than 3 hours before the big match..

    We need a solid back four or five..
    And if Emery choose 2 CBs.. than who can protect more in the middle.. Guendozi or Torierra.. I think Torierra.. So put him rather than Guendozi..

    We all love to see PAL come together.. So Why not tonight.. hehehhe..
    The CAM will be Ceballos or Ozil.. hut after last game, I don’t think Ozil will play first.

    I think we will get point(s) tonight.. Liverpool aren’t that Scarry team.. We can handle them..

  • Hey chaps, I am in the Netherlands visiting my dad who is undergoing another operation, and I have not got round to do the five games predictions… So this will have to be postponed to next week.

    Good to see some upbeat comments even though I remain sceptical about Emery’s ability to get the best out of the available squad. I will be watching the game with my dad tonight and I hope it is a good one, with hopefully a decent result for Arsenal (or at least a admirable performance).

    Keep truckin’!


  • J-Dub… I’m already ready to jabber… And, I’ll probably be watching this ManU-Palace match out of the corner of my eye

  • Half time and ManU are a goal down… Inneresting (scoreline, less so the match itself or at least United when they’ve got the ball)…

  • TA, You’re a good kid (and you remind me that I need to call my mum)… Enjoy the match with your father…

  • Sorry, that’s me ^^^ (not TA)… Schizo-troubles, as per usual… 😦

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