Liverpool Preview: Let the Festive see the Football

Liverpool arrive at the Emirates tonight for the first of the festive fixtures. In twelve days time, it ends with the visit of Chelsea; the new year begins with a bang.

We’re not dissimilar to this evening’s visitors. Except for goals. Liverpool are scoring lots of them away from home, at least three in every away match in all competitions since Tottenham gave them a hiding at Wembley. A team with that reputation? Against our leaky defence? It has all the makings of carnage.

It will be a surprise if it is. The leaky defence only conceded goals in one home match in the last six; no matter what you think, that’s a decent record but like Liverpool’s, it’s down to the standard of opposition. I’d expect us to keep a clean sheet against teams we’ve faced, just like winning 13 of the last 14 at home in the Premier League. You can only beat the opposition placed in front of you.

I expected Liverpool to win comfortably against the teams they have faced. And just like us, the one half-decent side they faced put three past them. Tonight’s question is whose forward line can score more than their leaky defence concedes.

The answer isn’t so clear-cut. When the back four first re-appeared, it was under the guise of ‘needs must’. Against United, we were two-down already and needed to chase the game. One goal followed so the back four stayed. And stayed. Now, three clean sheets later, it will be a surprise if we revert to a back three. But not entirely.

Shkodran Mustafi, the catalyst for change, is fit again and I suspect, plays tonight. Would you feel more secure with Ainsley Maitland-Niles facing Mo Salah in a three or five? I’m going with the former.

Left Leaning

Arsène put the cat among those pigeons with the news Sead Kolasinac is fit for tonight. Tuesday, it seems, was a pre-match runout. And because it wasn’t taxing, probably not any more intense than a training session for him. The Bosnian would be my choice for left wing-back in a five, and left-back in a four at this moment in time.

I’d prefer to see Maitland-Niles develop in the centre of midfield where we have obvious problems. We know he can handle first-team football; he’s proven that. Now it’s time to find out if he is ready for the battle in the centre of the pitch and the festive period offers the chance of to see that.

Kolasinac offers another problem. We know about Salah’s devastating pace but that means we get the chance to raid their defence on the left as well. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s defensive strength is his pace; his weakness is inconsistency and Kolasinac has the strength to make him cower. Ox will no doubt have a stormer tonight and beg the question why we never got that out of him on a consistent basis…

Maybe it will be a four, with Monreal as left-back. I think most of us would think that’s the defensively stronger full-back of the three. That depends on how Laurent Koscielny’s Achilles is holding up, of course. If we’re not sure how Arsenal will line-up, is Jurgen Klopp any more certain? Does he view a shift in tactics as a sign of weakness on our part, having faced us down the years with no change whatsoever from Wenger?

There are some certainties. Jack and Xhaka in the middle; Özil, Lacazette and Alexis up front and I think, supported by Welbeck to force Liverpool onto the back foot if we have a flat back four.

You Know Which Spanish Goalkeeper He Reminds Me Of?

For all that, I do think Mustafi’s return means a back three. No matter how little or much trust that he has in the German, it’s holding himself as a hostage to fortune to keep a back four. All young players face a testing moment in their careers, the game where we find out just how good they are but I’d rather find that out about Maitland-Niles in his ‘natural’ position rather than solving a problem for the manager at full-back.

The line-up tonight I think is:

Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Sanchez, Lacazette, Özil

The four-goal drubbing at Anfield bears no relevance on tonight’s game beyond offering a motivation for us. Liverpool have scored 14 in the last four meetings between the two sides, we’ve got half that. It’s time to turn the tables and if there is to be a top-four finish from Arsenal, we’ve got to win. Failure to do so will signal our time as a regular habitué of the Europa League for the remainder of Wenger’s tenure.

For the record, I think that’s our level but also that we’ll win tonight. There’s a confidence in Liverpool’s game which Sevilla exposed as brittle; we can do the same. It depends on which Arsenal turns up tonight because we could quite easily go the way of Stoke, Brighton and Bournemouth if we’re as flaky as we were in the opening twenty minutes against United. At least Mignolet is more Almunia than De Gea; we’ve always got a chance…

Enjoy the game wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

233 thoughts on “Liverpool Preview: Let the Festive see the Football

  1. Orson Kaert says:

    Fuck me how much longer are we going to keep playing Koscielny?

  2. Wavey says:

    Ras,

    Wenger keeps playing certain players on the basis that they can play themselves into form. It just doesn’t happen when there is no training and analysis at London Colney. Iwobi just keeps making the same mistakes and needs a spell on the sidelines.

    Should have been 2-0.

  3. Viceologist says:

    I would not be sad if i never saw half of these players suit up for the Arsenal ever again… just so many weaknesses out there.

  4. Welsh Corgi Cardigan says:

    Darn, we could be 3 goals down now. I’m actually happy we’re still in the game!

  5. Viceologist says:

    What can Arsene tell these guys to get them to stop being complete shit?

  6. Jonny says:

    Jamie Carragher cannot believe how poor we have been.
    How can this be a remote surprise to a supposed ‘professional’?
    This has been almost exactly how I would have imagined.

  7. Wavey says:

    Bellerin plays it back inside again when he could have taken it to the bye line and thrown a cross in.

    Absolute rubbish.

  8. Viceologist says:

    I am so tired of watching players run right by Xhaka as if he is standing still in midfield… the lack of athleticism and strength in our midfield is laughable.

  9. Delano says:

    Liverpool are embarrassing us at the Emirates again. There’s absolutely no evidence that wenger has any tactical clue. Non of the players can take a shot. There’s simply no fight. Our players have been second best throughout. The players don’t want to play for him and he should just leave arsenal and we start a new lease of life

  10. SV says:

    Good news: should have been over, but it’s not. Bad news: another half of this. Need changes.

  11. andy1886 says:

    Fair chance we’ll hear chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” before too long. I’m afraid that AW has just been on a stay of execution with the FA Cup win and before the season is out the atmosphere is going to get toxic again (cue more stories in the paper of expensive summer signings).

    Even a groundhog gets the message eventually.

  12. Noon Gunner says:

    Jonny,

    So right, Jonny. We’re on perma-loop. They’re playing just as you’d expect team to play that has no meaningful direction or tactical discipline behind them. We look as hopeful as we are hopeless.

  13. Orson Kaert says:

    Cech has completed more passes to Liverpool players than to his own team.

    Koscielny looks a complete liability.

    Iwobi is entirely ineffective.

    Bellerin is just not defending at all.

    Maitland-Niles is lost at left back.

    Other than that the rest of the team have been pretty average.

    We are lucky to be only one down at half-time.

  14. Bill says:

    We are lucky to still have a chance in this game. Cech saved us once and Liverpool with some dodgy finishing.

    Defense has been all over the place.

    Alexis and Özil have both been dreadful and both have looked as bad as any time this season. both should probably be sold if we can find a buyer in January.

    Wilshere has also struggled.

  15. C says:

    I know people think Im crazy but Elneny NEEDS to come on because Jack ans Xhaka need to do better passing (I already know Sanchez and Iwobi’s is erratic) and with them struggling to connect passes Liverpool are coming right back down our throat. Put Elneny on and sure up the passing and we can get at them.

  16. Welsh Corgi Cardigan says:

    Wavey,

    Yepp, Sanchez is so poor, that right now I’d wouldn’t take offense to let him rot in the reserves the rest of the season.

    That might come back and bite me in the arse for the second half🙂.

  17. Noon Gunner says:

    Wrighty is in real pain watching and analyzing our slow-mo train-smash. Can’t understand AW throwing AMN to the Salah wolf. But we all know the problem is deeper, deeper, always deeper.

  18. Orson Kaert says:

    Kolasinac for Maitland-Niles, Elneny for Iwobi, for a start. For all the good Bellerin is doing we may as well hook him and bring on Walcott.

    But we know Wenger won’t do any of that before sixty minutes, or we are three nil down.

  19. HenryB says:

    Hmm, Orson has it about right @ 8:37, except you missed out Sanchez who cannot pass to save his life ……… hold the ‘phone ……… none of them can pass to anyone except a ‘Pool player.

    That was pathetic.

  20. Bill says:

    I want Arsène to leave as much as anyone but you can’t blame him for all of this. The players have to take some responsibility. We have experienced players who should be able to think for themselves on the pitch. A great tactical game plan still needs to have execution and a good player can make a poor tactical game plan work by making something happen

  21. Noon Gunner says:

    Orson Kaert,

    Agreed. They would be Elastoplast, but that’s all we have in our locker right now.

  22. Welsh Corgi Cardigan says:

    Orson Kaert,

    Yepp, as we’re playing a back four. Haul off Bellerin and Sanchez. Put on Debuchy, Welbeck and show that there are options.

    If you don’t wanna do it, there’s others who do.

  23. captain senderos says:

    hehehehehe hehehehehe hehehehehe… Arsenal loosing is not a suprise at… Sam alladyce will perform better at arsenal

  24. Orson Kaert says:

    Fuck me, Wenger has made a halftime change, Mustafi for Monreal.

  25. consolsbob says:

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    It’s almost Christmas. Have another drink.

  26. YW says:

    Bill

    You can blame him for this but if we don’t see a response from the players, there’s no reason to keep him as manager beyond Xmas.

  27. Noon Gunner says:

    Mustafi for Nacho….presumably for ankle injury. All the weaknesses left on the pitch to play us into further trouble.

  28. Jonny says:

    Has Iwobi had a good game this season?

  29. Viceologist says:

    Alexis is a fuckin disaster out there right now.

  30. Noon Gunner says:

    Bellerin runs alongside Salah the length of the pitch…how about a tackle?

  31. Jonny says:

    consolsbob:
    Nothing to see here, move along.

    It’s almost Christmas. Have another drink.

    Mulled Cwider, Bobcat?

  32. C says:

    Thats the Lacazette I know, turn and run.

    Another stray simple pass from Sanchez goes to a Liverpool player when it was clear Ozil was about to overlap him

  33. Viceologist says:

    I think selling Sanchez in January might be a good idea… he is a shell of himself.

  34. C says:

    Noon Gunner,

    He couldn’t tackle him, he is the last man. He slowed him down I actually thought it was good defendin to slow him down.

  35. Viceologist says:

    And Arsene fiddles while Rome burns to the ground… fuckin pathetic excuse for a top class football club.

  36. andy1886 says:

    YW,

    Absolutely. He buys and selects the players, trains them, determines the formation and tactics, and in theory at least motivates them to perform. If there is one manager in world football that IS responsible for the way his side plays it’s Arsene Wenger.

  37. C says:

    3 on 1 we all know he is going left and he still goes left.

    WTF DID JACK NOT TRACK SALAH, HE RAN WITH HIM AND SALAH KEPT RUNNING AND JACK JUST STOPPED. LEE DIXON IA RIGHTLY HAVING A GO AT JACK, XHAKA, KOS AND MUSTAFI

  38. Welsh Corgi Cardigan says:

    We probably look worse than we are. But hell, we’re abysmal.

    And then Alexis score.

  39. Viceologist says:

    Did it take a two goal slap in the face for our squad to finally wake up?

  40. Bill says:

    Yogi

    Arsene should have been given the opportunity to find a change of scenery several years ago. Our entire organization needs a big kick in the arse and we need to make a change.

  41. C says:

    What a fucking ball from Bellerin and Sanchez says fuck it I’m going to score!!!!!!! Game on!!!

  42. Wavey says:

    Out of nowhere Alexis shows what he can do. Almost as if he decided to turn it on.

  43. C says:

    XHAKA!!!!!!!!!

    WHAT A FUCKING STRIKE FROM XHAKA!!!!!!!!

    Ozil and Jack seemed to really wake up after Liverpool scored and started bossing the midfield play.

  44. Wavey says:

    Lol.A great strike, but the GK has to do better. Game on.

  45. andy1886 says:

    Bonkers. Will Wenger get away with it again?

  46. Orson Kaert says:

    So Bill, no product from Sanchez and Ozil? 😉

  47. C says:

    You lot wanted more from Ozil, Bill there you go, Ozil again shows up right when we need him and scores a brilliant goal and absolutely BRILLIANT from Lacazette.

    Ozil with an absolutely brilliant dink!!!!

  48. Bill says:

    Well that is quite a turnaround. May be we need to keep Sanchez after all. I was wrong about us not scoring more then 1. We can still win this.

  49. Wavey says:

    What a goal and what a flick from Lacazette.

  50. Ras says:

    I’m on the road can someone tell me the score please????

  51. C says:

    Orson Kaert,

    Ozil and Sanchez have led us back. That second goal by Liverpool woke them up and I will throw Jack and Lacazette.

    Those 4 seemed to wake up and the team followed.

  52. Orson Kaert says:

    3 – 2 to the Glorious Gunners.

  53. Noon Gunner says:

    WTF happened? Is this the AW hairdryer Effect?

  54. C says:

    Ras,

    3-2!!

    Ozil, Sanchez, Jack and Lacazette turned us around and Xhaka hit a rocket from about 20-25 yards.

  55. Bill says:

    The strange crunching sound you hear from across the Atlantic is Bill eating his own words.

  56. C says:

    Bill,

    Yup, keep eating them mate. I told you Ozil will show up, don’t doubt me mate😂

  57. C says:

    Lacazette’s hold up and link up play is better than Giroud’s

  58. Ras says:

    C,

    Merci C.

    I will watch the high lights later. Hope we can hang on or score another.

    First half was like a game of basketball.

  59. Welsh Corgi Cardigan says:

    I’ll some of that pie too, given this change🙂.

  60. Orson Kaert says:

    Liverpool are shell shocked.

  61. Noon Gunner says:

    BEAUTIFUL counter-attacking play. Ozil having fun.

  62. Arshavin23 says:

    a team capable of doing this shouldn’t be struggling to make 4th place!

    the gap between what this team is capable of delivering and what they deliver is simply astounding.

    Arsene – solve this problem please! only you can!

  63. C says:

    Ozil is running the game.

    O yea and Bellerin has put in some superb balls. First for the Sanchez goal and then just there.

  64. Welsh Corgi Cardigan says:

    Now for the love of that is dear, hold this.

  65. C says:

    All things considered, Maitland-Niles has done well

  66. Wavey says:

    They are still a threat, but we are getting chances now.

    Damn

  67. Welsh Corgi Cardigan says:

    Darn, and I’ve had of Sanchez.

  68. consolsbob says:

    Come on now, move along.

    You’ve seen it all before.

  69. Welsh Corgi Cardigan says:

    He lost the ball and they scored.

  70. C says:

    Better distribution by Cech and Ozil could have been through about 2 times already

  71. Orson Kaert says:

    Certainly not Cech’s finest hour.

  72. Noon Gunner says:

    AMN taking care of Mane – and I like how he’s shouted at some of his teammates, too.

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