I’m very excited about the game today, but I don’t have much time to drop a review, so I’m going to bullet this out at a rate of knots.
Things we don’t want to see today:
# The Banner
We know Arsenal fans have been propping up the banner industry for at least 7 years, their stocks are flying high at the moment and you’d imagine there’s a spike going into today. If the banners are rolling out, that means we’re in trouble. I’d really love for Arsenal to show us something, I’m not sure what the overall worth of that would be, but it’d be great to put Liverpool and Klopp to the sword this evening… because if Klopp can’t make CL in a dead season European wise, you have to wonder if he’ll ever get them there.
# Manè MoM
It’s so predictable that he’s going to have a good game today. Klopp is either going to push him out wide or through the middle and he’ll have the game of his life. Are we going to allow Liverpool to break on the counter like monsters? Are we going to play into their hands because it suits our game? Or are going to go armed with a plan… go against our gut instinct for once… and play smart.
# Press Press Press
Come on, we know what Klopp is going to do against us… the same thing all good teams do, press us hard, ruffle our midfield feathers and hit us fast when the ball is taken from us. What is the plan for that? Do we cede possession to them like some of the teams who’ve had to recently? Do we play over the press in a mean long ball game? Or do we counter press them aggressively like I’ve not seen since the opening months of the season when our players can be arsed?
# Injured players
So Mesut Ozil has the flu. Yep, the guy who’s been on holiday to Turkey whilst dropping a book tour mysteriously has the flu again. So he’ll be out. For me, being a medical amateur, I’m always suspicious when a professional athlete gets the actual flu… because that illness is debilitating. I’ve had it once in 20 years. I think most people, if they were honest, do not have it that often. So for me, he’s picked up an Manuel Almunia broken finger.
My other worry is that Koscielny will be playing regardless of fitness because that’s a safer bet than disaster prone centre-back Gabriel. If there’s one striker who is going to test your injury, it’s Manè, so let’s be praying to the medical gods he’s not actually injured.
# Favourites Line-up
I’m dreading that the line-up Wenger drops is a collection of his favourites without thinking about what we’re about to face. We know Coquelin doesn’t do well against teams that press because he’s not technically good enough to play under pressure. We know Iwobi has struggled in big games this year. We know Chambo isn’t that good out wide and he at least looks comfortable in the middle.
Will Wenger opt for a different type of midfield? Xhaka, Chambo and Rambo? Or will he go very interesting, Maitland-Niles, Chambo and Xhaka. Or will he go Coquelin, Ramsey, Chambo? One thing we don’t have to do is play with a #10. We can load the front line with pace and I think I’d be matching that with a midfield that has a range of passing. Imagine a front three of Perez, Welbz and Sanchez? Could be special.
I have no idea how it’ll pan out, but that’s exciting. It’d be nice if there were ever a reaction to the way we’ve been beaten by big teams all year.
Liverpool are giant killers, we are ripe for their counter-attacking player, they do not like the ball, we do like the ball.
Let’s see how this pans out!