Liverpool Preview: Rumours Swirl But Alexis Returns

It’s a sign of the mood around the club that rumours of Shkodran Mustafi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being omitted from the squad for today’s game were given credence. The job of tying the manager’s straitjacket would be quickly filled were these true.

Arsenal head to Anfield for a match which nobody believes will finish goalless. Neither side has kept a clean sheet so far and neither side has looked like doing so. Perhaps that will change for Arsenal with the return of Laurent Koscielny and players appearing in their favoured positions. There’s no excuse for Bellerin on the left today; none which won’t undermine Arsène’s credibility.

Square pegs and round holes at Anfield? It’s akin to leaving Alexis on the bench last season. At this moment in time, we have four fit centre backs. Mustafi and Koscielny are certain to start and then it’s a toss-up between a youngster whom the manager has lost confidence in (Holding) and an ageing giant (Mertesacker).

The latter, I feel, is unlikely to play against a pacey Liverpool attack. That suggests Nacho Monreal retaining his place on the left side of the defensive trio. The reality is Sead Kolasinac will probably play there today to accommodate Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right.

It is the return of Alexis though which will garner the most media attention. The Chilean, fit after his abdominal injury, is set to make his first start. The attacking triumvirate of Alexis, Özil and Lacazette has the pace to unhinge Liverpool’s defence and expose Alexander-Arnold’s inexperience.

Add in quick wing-backs and there is potential for Arsenal to overload on the left. I’d like to see Kolasinac backing Sanchez, not just for the attacking side of the game but defensively as well. Having a “tank” behind him may free Alexis’ attacking instincts further.

Gimme The Ball, Gimme The Ball

That relies on Xhaka and Ramsey getting to grips with the Liverpool midfield. Kevin De Bruyne’s display from deep at Bournemouth yesterday contained the range of passing we expect from Xhaka. The Swiss international certainly has that within his game but is inconsistent in his delivery.

Ramsey meanwhile needs a more defensively disciplined performance. Criticism of his ‘part’ in Jese’s goal last weekend missed the question of who was supposed to drop into his midfield spot when the Welshman pushes forward. This time, it’s no secret the Liverpool trio love to push forward. Gaps in our quartet just invite pressure and last season’s first half debacle is surely reminder enough of what happens when we do that.

All of which seems a bit ‘doom and gloom’ and I don’t think there’s necessarily much need to feel like that. The only proviso is whether we’ve learned the key lessons from last weekend’s defeat. Arsène 2.0 surely has. Hasn’t he?

Last season collapsed because he didn’t. If this season begins to do so after three games, only the timid thinking of the Arsenal board – and the lack of an obvious successor – will save Wenger. Jokes; after three games, modern football sees Frank de Boer reportedly in ‘crisis talks’ with Palace this week and Slaven Bilic on the ropes. There’s only 90% of the season left…

The pre-match nerves are here already. I genuinely don’t know what I expect from Arsenal this afternoon. It could be encapsulated within Jack Whilshere’s goal in training. A great finish, excellent vision and slack-jawed defending:

No Points Bad, One Point Good

All eyes will be on the combination of Sanchez and Lacazette. There’s potential for an awful lot of goals but whether they will deliver from day one is another matter. It leaves Danny Welbeck out in the cold, relegated to the bench as the Chilean resumes his place in the side. That kind of flawed logic – not wanting to kill the England international’s career – will probably see Alexis sold this week to City for £60-70m.

Like Ox, I think the money is too good to turn down but without incoming players, it’s a mistake. I loved the claim in the press that we’re demanding £40m+£1 from Liverpool for Oxlade-Chamberlain. Today, you would expect the two clubs agree terms (broadly) or kill the deal.

But it’s about the result, first and foremost. I can’t help but think a draw will be seen as good for us and after Stoke, maybe it will. We go into the international break and as ever, it will be a long fortnight without something positive to cling onto.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

210 thoughts on “Liverpool Preview: Rumours Swirl But Alexis Returns

  1. Orson Kaert,

    That’s a shame. It means we are stuck with him and Wenger will keep playing him as a WB. I was watching the game on NBCSN and Robbie Earle pointed out that for one of the goals Ox and Ramsey were too busy talking to someone on the sidelines to notice what was going on behind them. By the time they realised it was too late. Disgraceful that two players were not even bothered about focussing on the game.

    I’ve decided that the only way I can handle this season is to assume we are a mid table team who might sneak a result against the odd bigger team, but are realistically going to be chasing the vague possibility of a place in Europe with the likes of Everton and Southampton. Teams that we have no chance of being above this season are United, City, Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool. We will probably battle Everton for sixth as they haven’t really sorted out a replacement for Lukaku.

    I’m actually going to the next home game against Bournemouth and I think it could easily go either way.

  2. Wavey

    At some point we will probably find a really good run of form and end up fighting for or sneaking into the top 4. That is what happens every season. The other possibility is the players just don’t care enough to put in the effort needed to find that good run of form. Based on the last 13 years of history, I suspect the former.

  3. Wavey

    You may be right. I was wrong about us finishing in the top 4 last season and may be we won’t even come close to the top 4 in the next couple of seasons but I think we will be somewhere close to or in 4th place by end of the season.

    On the other hand, perhaps this is finally the season that Arsene is no longer able to motivate the players to care enough to put together that good 1/2 season which has characterized every year in the Emirates era. With all of the drama with Arsene’s contract and the incredibly poor run of form we had last season, I can’t imagine the players still believe in the man.

  4. I hope Arsene writes a book. I want to know how you get a multi million a year job without any accountability. The cunt that owners the club should fuck right off too.

  5. I am short of words, completely short of words. How could wenger do this to a club he claims to love? I feel terrible being an arsenal fan. I mean this is the most horrible football performance i have ever seen and I doubt I will ever see anything worse. I doubt ARSENAL had a single shot on target. This is the same ARSENAL that went through a whole season without loosing a single match. Pathetic. I can’t believe wenger loves this team and stays on after such a performance.

    Don’t really wanna apportion blame, but I can’t help but point this out. Arsenal plays with 9 outfield players every time ozil is on the pitch. The guy is simply a luxury player and all he does all day is stroll as if he is one of the officials funny. I know every single part of the team was abysmal for the whole 90 minutes but Ozil in particular has been abysmal for the past 6 months of watching football. Consider the charity shield match against chelsea.., consider how we bossed that midfield and even came from behind to win the game. Now compare it to the 3 games we have played since ozil returned. Now you have ur answer.

  6. All the discussion about this player or that player not being good enough etc is just crap.

    Bullet Wenger and bring in anyone, even Alardyce, and you’ll see that the squad just as it is is good enough to do a whole lot better than they are under Wenger.

    He needs to get the sack asap and let someone who actually knows what they’re doing take over.

    New signings or not someone like Allardyce will sort the squad out and avoid relegation this season until the club can reorganize.

    If Wenger stays on much longer we will be closer to relegation than the top 4 because the squad just doesn’t believe in him anymore.

    Of course the owner and the board will be too terrified to do anything, and believe the fraud that he can turn it around.

    Wenger is like an addict gambler.

    He fancies himself as a maverick genius, so he keeps betting on 0 on the roulette table.

    So far it’s not coming up, but he keeps at it, convinced that when it eventually does, he’ll be vindicated and lauded as the genius he wants to be.

    Unfortunately, by then there’ll be fuck all left.

    Brian Clough went through exactly this.

    It’s going to go sompletely tits up this season.

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