Liverpool Preview: Let The Madness Begin

Is it really that time already? I know I wrote a preview post yesterday but it’s feels like it’s been a short pre-season although a long one in the transfer window, it must be said.

Liverpool arrive at the Emirates for the first game of the season and a mixed atmosphere as far as Arsenal’s chances for the season are concerned. I nailed my colours to the 4th place mast yesterday and that hasn’t changed in the last twenty-four hours.

It’s Arsenal and there’s an injury crisis. The players may feel renewed enthusiasm for the task ahead but I am, I confess, nervous about this afternoon. Starting the season with defeat is never pleasant; returning in a fortnight without a point doesn’t bear thinking about. Leicester City have officially been crowned the ‘Worst Champions Ever’ following yesterday’s defeat at Hull which means they will probably hand us a footballing lesson next weekend.

Unless we win, of course. A makeshift back four suggests that will be a tricky proposition. Liverpool, buoyed by the thrashing of Barcelona, will be mindful of reading too much into the pre-season. We’ve been unbeaten regularly in the past and never won a pot at the end of the season. If we’re as supine as the Catalans, we deserve a thrashing. Despite all this, the odds are in favour of an Arsenal victory.

I don’t think we will be but there are question marks over the Arsenal team selection. Bacary Sagna played for Manchester City yesterday which makes me wonder why Koscielny and Giroud have been offered extended breaks. With events in the pre-season unfolding as they did, it was surprising Kos wasn’t required to return to training sooner. As much as signing a new centre back is a high priority, we had a solution to hand.

The danger of returning too soon was seen in Hugo Lloris’ hamstring injury yesterday. There’s no guarantee that would have happened to Koscielny but knowing our injury it probably would. It seems the football gods have yet to get themselves fully match fit. “Aah, yes, hamstring injury for you…oops, sorry, wrong north London club…”

Wenger has his beliefs and sticks to them. There has been a truly frightening suggestion that Mathieu Debuchy may be drafted in to play alongside Chambers, leaving Monreal on the left. Last season and this pre-season, Debuchy’s positioning has been questionable at best; hesitant and indecisive, we can’t afford that from the experienced player in a makeshift partnership.

If Monreal to the centre is the least-worst option, Debuchy is the worst-worst option. It’s a shame how his Arsenal career has turned out because when arrived at Sagna’s replacement, it seemed a good signing. Injuries changed that and it’s clear the player wants out. We should be concentrating on providing that outcome as it suits both parties.

Irrespective of Wenger’s choice, the midfield will have to work hard to protect them. For that reason, it would be no surprise to see Coquelin and Xhaka either side of Santi Cazorla. The pair will be tested by the Liverpool triumvirate of Firmino, Sane and Coutinho. The Swiss international has the range of passing which will concern Jurgen Klopp.

Referring to the match at Anfield in January, the German said:

“We know Arsenal usually are a football-playing team but when they played last time against us (they played) a lot of long balls.

“Always (to) Giroud, second ball (to Mesut) Özil. That caused us a lot of problems in this game. It was 3-3 in the last second. That’s what we think about and not what kind of problems they could have.”

Given Arsenal are likely to line-up with a different type of centre forward, I doubt Klopp will be as worried. Unless Arsène goes with Yaya Sanogo as the central striker. I’m regretting making that flippant remark already.

The long-standing issue has been the predictability of our play: pass, pass, pass, pass; sideways, back, sideways, forwards, back and so on. Xhaka can lift us out of that rut and  maximise the attacking potential of Santi Cazorla from deep as well.

Özil’s absence will be sorely missed. I wonder if it’s the chance for Aaron Ramsey to play in the number 10 role he covets and which, in fairness, he played well for Wales in France this summer. That must be crossing Arsène’s mind, surely?

It also offers the opportunity to include Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. An early chance to prove his fitness and build on some encouraging performances in pre-season. With his pace on the right and Sanchez supported by Ramsey through the middle, there is plenty to cause problems for Liverpool’s defence.

It’s a far from ideal position to be in; the only first-choice part of the team is the central midfield area. Everyone else is shifted around; not square pegs in round holes but certainly not in positions where I would expect them to play most of the season. The starting XI will be something like:

Cech; Bellerin, Chambers, Monreal, Gibbs; Coquelin, Cazorla, Xhaka; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey; Sanchez

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

321 thoughts on “Liverpool Preview: Let The Madness Begin

  1. andy1886 says:

    Quite right dfb. If having managed a club is the criteria then must we assume that for example Maureen’s view on Wenger is correct because he has done that and we (including jjgsol) have not? Or does that only apply if what is said matches our own views?

    I suspect that in the case of the poster in question the latter applies.

    Another case of the argument of last resort when reason and logic have been abandoned and only blind faith that flies in the face of all the evidence remains.

  2. Diego says:

    I am amazed by the bullshittery spouted by some braindead people on here.. It is never Arsene’s fault ever, EVER!! The fault always lies with the fans or the players!! What is AWs’ role exactly then?? Why the F** is he paid 8 million a year?? We have started without due preparation every fucking season for the last few years. Is that the fans fault?? Dont get me started on the “they’re experts, we’re not” crap. Are we talking about nuclear fission here??

  3. Columbus Arsenal (MA) says:

    Beyond the reign of Arsene, we’ll still have Stan. Stan won’t be selling whilst his asset continues to appreciate. We probably need Arsenal to tank for a few years just to shift that particular ass hole.

  4. dukey says:

    The old ‘If you haven’t managed a club you have no credible opinion’ thing. That’s a Wengerisim. If Wenger told Gooners to stick their heads in ovens there would then be hundreds of diva Gooners admitted to the A&E departments.

  5. dukey says:

    anyway , what an excellent days entertainment yesterday. (not for Damon)5 gold medals. we really do smash it in the bicycle riding.

  6. Orson Kaert says:

    Good morning, A thing I can’t quite understand is this. Koscielny is not fit enough to start a game on Sunday, he has a week to train in which there are no games so he won’t be match fit next weekend. Will he start against Leicester?

    Mertesacker was injured, Gabriel got injured, why did not Wenger recall Koscielny from holiday? He could have a break either when our new centre back arrived or when Gabriel regained fitness.

  7. Orson Kaert says:

    An ominous statistic, Granit Xhaka committed more fouls than any other player this weekend despite being on the field for just 24 minutes.

  8. Damon says:

    dukey,

    Had an excellent day actually. Only partially spoilt by watching our second half. Sadly, as others have said, I really don’t care this year. Not like I used to

    As Miami says, what terrifies me more than another contract is that he goes and the new man’s mo is “top 4 and don’t spend any money”. Then what?

  9. andy1886 says:

    Damon,

    Damon, then we know where the problem lies and we try to drive out the owner. He wouldn’t have even a fraction of the supportvthat Wenger does.

  10. Wavey says:

    jjgsol,

    Not sure where you think I am being rude and insulting. And I think it’s pretty fair to say that most posts on a blog are simply the opinion of the poster. Even the most educated of people on the subject would only be guessing as to what is happening within the club, so that would preclude even them from having knowledge of what is going on. I doubt very much anyone would take my views as gospel, so why do I have to qualify them as my opinion every time when clearly they are only an opinion?
    On the subject of players coming back from the Euros, I used the evidence of other players who had gone a similar distance in the tournament having already played for their clubs this weekend. If we are talking about injuries that’s different, but we are talking about our players being given more rest time post the Euros than other teams have allowed for theirs. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to question that, but your response was to make snide comments about me obviously being an expert. Sad that you feel that was necessary. I appreciate your opposing views, but there doesn’t really seem to be any reason to make smart mouthed comments.

  11. aligooner says:

    Morning folks.
    Just reflecting on yesterday and the summer generally. 3-4 was flattering to us in the end. Liverpool let us back in, and it really ought to have been 5 for them – on another day they would have won 5-1 easy. Poor, poor start to the season, and AW typically stubborn in refusing to take any blame for his own lack of preparedness.

    I thought Holding did ok but he’s a Championship player at best – I think he’ll last 4-5 games and that will be the last we see of him until he’s loaned out to Charlton next year. Chambers looked shaky and I don’t think is playing in the right position.

    But the biggest problem for me is that the whole team looked low in confidence. I still think we lack natural leaders to organise, bring the unit together, and keep things ticking over. The Flame used to do it, Arteta did it to some degree – just experienced players who are keeping a check on everything that’s happening around them. We didn’t have anyone on the pitch yesterday, except for Cech, with that awe-inspiring persona.

    That all aside, we need new signings. A solid CB, and a world class striker (look at Ibrahimovic yesterday) would breathe new life into the team, and give us a fighting chance. Mustafi will be a good buy. Mathieu is a polyfilla player that won’t help us. Lacazette or Mahrez would make a statement, but we really could and should be aiming bigger and better. If we do go for Mahrez seriously, I’d ship out Theo – he’s never going to be the goal scorer we are looking for, and he doesn’t create enough for others to warrant that right wing position.

    Arsene has 2 weeks to show us he means to win something this year, although I’m not holding my breath.

  12. HenryB says:

    Orson Kaert:
    An ominous statistic, Granit Xhaka committed more fouls than any other player this weekend despite being on the field for just 24 minutes.

    Excellent stuff, Orsey. He should be let loose to reap havoc, wipe out the oppo’s best players, get a red, come back and reap havoc again, get a red, come back ad infinitum…….they would be finished by the second half of the season and we will walk away with the title – and without Xhaka – naturally.

    Known as taking one for the team, and giving out 10 times more! 😀

  13. andy1886 says:

    dukey,

    Got it. 🙂

    Arsene take note, it’s called learning from your mistakes 😉

  14. silvergunner says:

    Morning I think we should have punished then in the 1st half. Ramsey was typically selfish when he should have put Walcott through.
    Wenger was right in his assessment we were not sharp enough in the 2nd half and it wasn’t down to the defense per say but more to do with the midfield not being able to keep up.

  15. dukey says:

    C,

    Well when it comes to sports involving sitting on your arse. We are the masters!

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