So we are finally above water again and a mouthwatering Saturday evening game v Liverpool is awaiting us.
It is very hard to just live for the ‘football day’ but we should really forget about our position in the table, whether Odegaard will sign a long contract or not, whether Aguero will join us and all that sort of ‘future’ stuff; it is all about enjoying the journey itself and it is always good to play Liverpool and try and beat them. I will put one of my favourite Pirsig quotes up again: “To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.” Arteta is presenting us with lots of shoots of green and I am loving this season.
We know that Klopp’s boys have been running around like a wounded puma trying to find its appetite and bite again, lately. The Teeth has a formidable team and we have to be very wary of them. At one point they will find their form again and somebody will get it in the neck badly. Let’s hope it will not be us. We know they like to dominate the game and press high but they are missing NvD badly, not only for his defensive capabilities but also for his tempo setting/ leadership qualities. Every good team has a player who makes it play to a certain tune, and Van Dijk is that for Pool. The much misunderstood/valued Xhaka is that for us, and the bad news is that he was unwell on Friday and may be missing today. Granit has played a couple of games with the Swiss national team and looked already knackered before the international break, so it would not surprise me if Arteta simply has to rest him tonight. That would be a blow.
Now a fully fit Partey and Elneny partnership could fill the void but it is always hard to tell how any player will perform after having been away on international duty for almost two weeks. It looks like Pool will lose Wijnaldum at the end of the season and I must say he has been playing well below par in the last few months for club and country. It looks like he will be going to Barcelona for free but I would not mind him at Arsenal at all. Not going to happen though. However, I think if we keep the Pool midfield quiet – and Wijnaldum should be our main focus for silencing – we can do some great damage to them tonight through our counter-attacks and turnovers.
Tierney was awesome for Scotland and our other ‘rising’ full back, Soares, seems to also have played well during the interlull. I am looking forward to our battle of the wing-backs with Pool, which is just as important as the one in central midfield. Both Saka and ESR will be assessed today and I doubt they will play much if at all. So on the wings I expect both Auba and Pepe to play. If they are prepared to put the work in, they should really benefit from the space that Pool will give us behind their high press. I have started to doubt whether Laca and Auba should start in the same team again but tonight it would make sense to play AubaCazette. Auba is simply best when launched into space and a high press is ideal for him. Klopp knows this of course and will be wary but changing his style of play he will not: look at those fake, brilliant teeth, this is one determined man!
Luiz is out and so Arteta needs to decide who to play next to Big Gab. It really is time to give Holdingho another chance. So here is my predicted (and preferred) line-up for tonight:
Come on You Rip Roaring
G U N N E R S