An away day at Liverpool is always huge. More so over the past half-decade. Liverpool is an institution, Anfield is a legendary stadium, and Klopp is a top 3 manager in the world.
The stage is set.
Mikel Arteta usually underplays our chances, but the talk was a little different in his press conference.
He’s talking about confidence in the camp, he’s pumping his players, and he’s making no excuses about the expectations that are being put on Arsenal.
We are going to Anfield to win because that’s what Arsenal Football Club is all about.
This game isn’t a litmus test, people need to move away from that sort of chat… it’s a chance to land a blow on a club that has standards we want to reach.
Since boxing day, we’ve accrued more points than Liverpool. What does that tell you? That they are beatable. Klopp’s side has lost a bit of that invincibility force-field this season. They aren’t quite hitting the heights as consistently as they were a couple of seasons ago. There are vulnerabilities in their system.
The main difference? Huge experience and a 5th gear that we don’t have yet. Both teams at 100% and we’re on the back foot.
So what do we need to see?
A smart game plan executed with maximum focus
Our problem against Chelsea and City was that we conceded inside 15 minutes both times. We can’t afford to do that against a Liverpool side we know will come flying out the traps.
I’d love a fast start, but it’s questionable whether that’s the right approach against Liverpool. A game right after the break might take some time to feel our way into. It might be sharp to just be in the match after 20 minutes and work our way into the game by growing with time.
There needs to be a plan for Mo Salah, the best player in the world right now. We need to have ideas for Liverpool’s wide players. We should be set up to counter-attack at speed, because Liverpool have been leaving openings. We have to play a high line and confidently play around their brutal press when it comes.
Arteta said the weakness in the side was that as a team, we don’t have enough collective experience yet. Let’s be clear, this new group of players hasn’t felt pain together yet. We are unbeaten since our new defence was formed. There’s no record of how we’ll react to a battering from Liverpool. That makes this game interesting for a whole host of reasons.
This is a big moment for the project. Lose, well, we expected it and we’ll have to hope the team can bounce back quickly. Come away with a point or more and we’ll really start to believe something might be brewing early.
I’m very excited. I feel confident we can compete. This is a test we could pass, I haven’t felt that way about a Liverpool game in a while. So let’s see where it goes.
See you in the comments. Join for an OTW podcast right after the game!