Liverpool Preview: Time To Kick On


Nose pushed firmly out of joint by the appearance of the FA Cup in the top flight calendar, the Premier League muscled back into view with a full programme of matches this week. Arsenal begin a mini-series of three games which will tell us a lot about their title chances this season.

Years ago, we travelled to Anfield more in hope than expectation. Even after 1989 and 1991 proved to be the breaking of the Liverpool’s empire, we were still more often than not, on the receiving end of defeat. It took a long time for that cycle to end and it’s really only since the turn of this century that coming away from that side of Stanley Park without three points is considered a poor result.

Such is football’s capricious nature that when we most expect to win, we fall to humbling defeat. Not by a close, single goal margin but capitulation. Or as with last season, a last-minute equaliser which stung as much as losing. It’s a horrible sensation to be on the receiving end of. As deep as the euphoria that greets the goal, is high; we are all too familiar with the two extremes.Bellerin vs Liverpool

Tonight’s match is no different. Arsenal are top of the Premier League, back to winning ways after the catastrophic performance at Southampton. Liverpool seem no more consistent under Jurgen Klopp than they were with Brendan Rodgers at the helm. No-one is quite sure what type of performance they will turn in.

Arsène is. It will be a “ferocious battle” at Anfield, he said earlier in the week and Arsenal have to be prepared for the. His expect for what Klopp is capable of is evident but it’s interesting that Liverpool’s injury list is growing quickly. It’s being put down to the German’s preferred style of play, a pressing game that it is claimed is too much for the squad although whether there is any truth in that, I don’t know.

Ozil vs LiverpoolIt’s plausible, there’s no denying that Liverpool’s injuries appear more ‘wear and tear’ but are they any worse than other clubs have suffered? Right now, yes but in the perspective of a season, I am not so sure.

We can talk about injuries in the past tense at Arsenal. Well, almost. Alexis, according to Wenger, is “short” for this match but should be back for the trip to Stoke at the weekend.

In his absence, Joel Campbell has grown in confidence and his performances in the festive period were continually improving. Wenger thinks he benefited from a run in the side, in the same way that most players do. I wonder how Campbell views his future at the club though?

Alexis vs LiverpoolArsène made it clear in talking to the media that whilst he liked the player and believed in his abilities, he was going to review the situation in January. Injuries gave the Costa Rican his chance and he’s taken it. But he should be under no illusions that others returning to fitness mean his time in the starting line-up is going to be limited.

When Alexis returns, it gives Wenger the option to play either Giroud or Walcott up front with Campbell on the right. When Cazorla comes back, Campbell drops to the bench; I just can’t see the Spaniard or Ramsey being left out; they are too pivotal for the side, to how Arsène wants the team to play, depending upon the opposition.

Where Campbell sits in the long-term with Oxlade-Chamberlain is unclear. At the moment he is ahead in the pecking order but that will change if the England international regains his form. Or should I say, when.Giroud vs Liverpool

Except it’s never that clear-cut. Injuries intervene and he will get chances but having played for a while, will sporadic matches be enough for a player who was reportedly close to leaving last summer because he wanted regular first team football?

It may be that Arsenal refuse to play ball this summer with anyone who is seeking a move, beyond those who are out of contract or in the cases of Debuchy and Ospina, so evidently out of favour. We’ll give Arsène the benefit of the doubt on the Colombian’s injury but it does look like the situation with Almunia and others; conveniently injured until they depart.

Such cynicism in one so young.

I’d expect the line-up to be:

Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Flamini, Ramsey; Walcott, Özil, Campbell; Giroud

There’s a sense that Arsenal are getting back toward full strength. The bench will have a good blend of age and experience – ageing experience in some cases – and whilst we rely on the first XI, there’s a feeling, for me at least, that Wenger has options if the match isn’t going to plan. Arsène will look more to the likes of Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Chambers first but the only real concern is the lack of alternatives for the forward line. Walcott can move to the lone striker role – Campbell at a push – but it disrupts the side in two places rather than just the one. Depth is there, it’s just in the medical room at the moment. If we can nurse the XI through for a couple of weeks longer, the position looks stronger.

I do think we ought to win tonight. Defeat won’t be damaging in isolation but as a precursor to the matches which follow, it won’t bode well. The season won’t be defined by events at Anfield but they could help shape its’ course. Arsène spoke earlier in the week about building momentum and I often think that this type of match – a ‘traditional’ big match – can boost the squad that little bit more than a routine win. If it is the beginning of a run that sees us take seven points from the next nine available, that will give the New Year a considerable boost.

Finally, thanks to David for the images of last season’s win over Liverpool at The Emirates. You can find out more about The Playbook on their website or follow them on Twitter.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

287 thoughts on “Liverpool Preview: Time To Kick On

  1. Also why does Flamini feel the need to become the 5th member of the backline? He literally puts himself between Mert and Kos as if that will help.

    Get infront of them,damn you!

  2. I don’t think i’ve seen Walcott the whole game……

    Now he plays a piss poor pass, not his game.

    Ox please.

  3. we’re looking tired, I would have though ‘Pool would be more so having playing full pelt from the off.

  4. Theo has tracked back and worked hard in the 2nd half.

    Ramsey scored the goal but he has offered nothing else and defensively he has done it for me.

  5. Matches like this is when we miss Santi who gives us that calm and links defending and Ozil.

    Look I know he got in a dangerous position just now but FFS Ramsey get your ass back, atay disciplined and help Flamini.



    You said a late winner feels like a loss, well it sure does.

  7. You ONLY take Ozil off in that situation if Santi or Sanchez is still on the pitch and neither were so you don’t take off Ozil!

  8. A real prtunity missed. If four defensive players can’t do the job, seven will make it worse.

    Really disappointed with that. Liverpool were there for the taking, they are a poor side.

    We wereactually, pretty poor ourselves.

    A good side would have won this match. A good side would have beaten us.

  9. Liverpool deserved that,better side today in attack, both teams poor in defence.

    Draw will do considering we were defending for most of the match.

  10. Campbell MOTM. Giroud was very good even with him missing the sitter, Ozil was silky as always.

    This match was actually lost in 2 places for me: in midfield where Ramsey and Flamini offered absolutely no protection for the back 4 and the second was the subs. If your going to take Ozil off then put on Chambers because at that point Liverpool were trying to throw crosses in so you out Chambeds to help win headers with Kos and Mert, not Arteta who can’t.

  11. I know most will diaagree but we lacked somebody in midfiekd that wanted to close down space and out in a tackle, okay Campbell did as always but outside of him, and that means IMHO Elneny goes into the team.

  12. I was going to say that the result is a travesty. However a point is better than nothing.We missed an opportunity to go top tonight. As has been said before Liverpool are an average team. We managed to get ourselves back into the game and go in front.

    I said earlier that it was like watching attack versus defence. Blatantly clear that a CDM player is seriously required. Flam is past his sell by date and its not truly Ramsey’s forte. We had not bite,we had no for the defence,no ability to break up play.

    The situation needs to be addressed

  13. Pants! Couldn’t quite hold on to it. A draw a pretty fair reflection of the game with both sides deciding defense was for the birds. Entertaining from for the neutrals. Leicester, well done and keep up the great work. Any team thinking Leicester are there for the taking are having a laugh. Work ethic and confidence has made them look fantastic this season. The EPL may not be the best quality league in the world but once again it demonstrates it is the most exciting to watch.

  14. It is so annoying how many times Liverpool have scored in the last couple of minutes of games, either to win or to draw.

    It would be interesting to see the statistics, but it seems to happen almost every time we play them.

    Either one siode or the other are miles ahead, or they score in the last minute and win or draw.

  15. I know it might be a bit harsh, but for the winner, Arteta was marking Allen then stopped for whatever reason and Allen buries it.

    Anyways, have to agree, draw a fair result for both sides giving neither wanted to defend and both made plenty of mistakes.

  16. @Moe

    He has alwaya had the quality, he is taking his chance by the scruff of the neck. It wasn’t just his assist to Ramsey but the reverse ball to Theo was absolute quality and certainly deserved a goal after Theo’s cross but Giroud had a really really good game and was unlucky not to tap that in.

  17. We offered them the chance of a draw by sitting deeper and deeper, took off any attacking threats, and gave up 2 points.

  18. @Moe

    Arsene likes to manage games by having the team sit deep, it has worked many times even where we are pulling our hair out. I’m not sure he has ever deviated from that course during his time as manager. It didn’t today. We all saw it coming but what can you do…

  19. It was a lovely ball from Campbell for our first, but not sure he was motm.
    Probably a game where everybody made mistakes at different times, and to me nobody really stood out. However 2 goals from OG probably the most deserving. Mind you he missed the sitter that ultimately was critical.

  20. Arsene used to throw on forwards when we were losing, now he chucks on defenders when we are winning.

    A stafnge caution overcomes him. Especially odd when we told us beforehand how well he pr pares for every game. If that was preparation evident on the pitch, I’m a Dutchman.

    My old Sunday League team was better organised.

  21. It looked as though Wenger and Klopp like each other.
    I wonder if they discuss jackets in their post game drink.

  22. I know that we have limited options but I wasn’t reassured by the substitutions. When defending a lead the Ox, Arteta and Gibbs are not players that you would trust not to make a mistake. Gibbs gave the ball away too easily, Arteta was off the pace, and the Ox didn’t really add any energy. Unless there was an injury I would have left the side alone. The changes didn’t help and if anything disrupted us. When we needed an outlet we didn’t have one.

  23. We were lucky to hold on in many games, but at some point we would pay for it.

    Arsene does not know what to do when we are ahead. Strange. May be a consequence of a one dimensional bench. Or may be a reflexion of Arsene’s attitude who would rather defend then be proactive. Or may be the leading players are tired.

    Whatever it is, not a champion’s material.

  24. Too many holes in midfield. Playing Theo, Joel, Ozil with Rambo and Flam behind is unbalanced, especially away from home. Rambo gives us goals but cedes possession too often and lack defensive discipline at times.

    Wonderful goal from Olly but Cech should have saved Allen’s shot.

    Massively frustrating but City drew so it could be a good point at the season’s end.

  25. I have no problem with Arsene putting on defensive players to close out games. I used to complained endlessly when he did not do it because we often lost leads late in games. He has become more conservative in the last couple of years and it has paid dividends. We certainly are much better at closing out games now compared with how many times we continued to plow forward and lost leads during the attack at all costs Wengerball era

  26. Depends if they really are effective defensive changes though Bill. Campbell was still working hard defensively, the Ox although fresher didn’t improve matters. Taking off Ozil for Arteta left us with no outlet, invited more pressure and I didn’t see any defensive contribution from the club captain.

  27. Not critical of Ozil.
    He wasn’t at his best, although he still did some exquisite things.
    Looked like he got out of a sick bed to play.

  28. We conceded a late equalizer last season on the same ground. Howerer the fact that they fight until the last minute is still a surprise for Arsene.

    No illusions concerning Stoke. They like performing against us. And Arsene will have no answers and lose.

  29. Andy

    Arteta for Ozil as a bit of a head scratcher for me also. Ozil usually did not finish games at Madrid but Arsene has not been in the habit of taking him off in a situation like that. Perhaps Ozil told the boss he was gassed or may be he felt a slight muscle twang.

  30. Bastard to give that late goal but it was that sort of game. Shitty drew at home so in the end not a bad day overall.
    I’ve no problems with the subs either, we haven’t given many points away at the death this season and it’s going to happen to anyone sooner or later.
    Take the point, still top, and on to Stoke.

  31. Not a bad result, true. We’d have all taken a draw the way we started the game tonight. Hope Barca don’t watch that, they’ll be super-confident if they do.

  32. I think Ox fon for Campbell is not really a defensive substitution but it’s probably the boss trying to keep Ox engaged and give a few minutes. When Alexis comes back I think Theo goes back to the bench as back up CF but there will be even fewer minutes for Ox.

  33. Stoke – Arsenal 2:0
    Arsenal – Chelsea 1:2

    1 point out of 9.

    And 4 points behind the top after that.

    Don’t see any signs of a sustaned challenge. No momentum, no energy, no will. No brain on the touch line.

  34. I would think that Alexis might get more rests moving forward. He has been overplayed for too long,
    And once you have done your hammy, it is weaker, and hence why so many players have repetitive injuries to the area.

  35. Ox has regressed massively in decision making.

    He still has the headless chicken syndrome that Walcott had when he came here.

    He needs to play like he did in midfield against Sunderland,pass the ball about,only run when there is an opportunity and LOOK UP!

  36. Ox is a complete liability defensively. Removing Ozil hampered our ability to keep the ball. Arteta is so past it; I cannot understand why he was given a new contract. Arteta and Flamini can’t do it anymore and why they were not replaced in the summer only Wenger knows. Its could cost us the Prem.

  37. I hold Wenger entirely to blame for their third goal. The defence were coping, just, and then he brings extra bodies on who just get in the way and break up the cohesion of the back four.

    He had already taken the pace out of our attack by removing Walcott and Campbell which left an almost totally knackered Giroud as our only outlet.

    I’ll never understand Wenger’s thought processes.

    That was a game we should have won. Two points thrown away by a complete defensive meltdown in the final couple of minutes.

  38. Its while off and we have no idea who will be back fit for that game. Cede possession to Barca like that tonight it could be turn out to be bad night in the CL

  39. It’s a standard Wenger tactic in recent times.
    Not sure whether we win because of, or despite the mass defensive substitutions and defensive mindset that accompanies them.
    It really was a shitty goal to give away.

  40. Elneny!!!!!!!

    Arsene hopes he can get registered by Sunday. A shiny new DM, I’ll take that on the back of our midfield defensive display tonight!

  41. Listened to a Kroenke interview after the NFL granted his wish.
    No wonder he prefers not to speak.
    Uninspiring and underwhelming.

  42. Elneny will join us. We will see if he can qualify for Sunday.

    What does that mean? It sounds like its still not sorted yet. It take no time at all to register a player with the FA once he has his permit. How is this still dragging on? If the work permit had been granted we would just complete the transfer, job done. I get less confident the longer it goes on.

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