Liverpool Preview: No Frills, Just Hard Work

There are times when you wonder what passes through the brains of the rich and powerful. It’s only when their schemes become public knowledge that you find out that mostly it is tumbleweed. Yet they seem surprised when (a) their schemes go wrong, (b) nobody believes them when they claim it was all above board, and (c) nobody calls their larks ‘banter’.

Gianni Infantino, formerly chief shill at UEFA, is one such man. I thought everyone knew City bought their way out of FFP trouble? Still, it comes as no surprise that Gianni’s bowels turned to water when City threatened to sue. This is a man whose spine was removed at birth. 

City sue UEFA for ten years? The proper answer to that is, “please do,” before suspending the club’s participation in competition as UEFA’s own statutes dictate. But the Gianni had his eye on the bigger prize. He needed the support of City and PSG’s owners, the cronies and despotic neighbours. Gianni wanted to become capo.

But, in the best interests of Gianni, he bottled it. Obfuscation gave football the full benefit of his ideas. You know, the ones which he steals from confederations. A Nations League, a club cup with group stages and knockout rounds. He’s one C-R-A-Z-Y guy.

Not as nuts as the owners of 11 elite clubs who are a lot further down the path of a European Super League than anyone knew, Arsenal among them. but not Tottenham. This is the same Tottenham whose lack of trophies and not having their own home doesn’t stop their media allies proclaiming them as a complete success.

There was me thinking that Mark Carney calling for Linda Lovelace to be the face on the new £50 note was as bizarre as the day would get.

Liverpool Preview

Which is, after all, why we’re here. A match where three months work is up for grabs. Today is Judgement Day for Unai Emery. Talk of revolution will mean nothing if we don’t win. Judgement Day. Happy birthday, Unai.

I’d forgotten Emery was Sevilla boss when they beat Liverpool in the 2016 Europa League – I thought he’d left by then. It’s no surprise we’re a second-half team; Sevilla were that night in Basel. They won the trophy blitzing the bin dippers after the interval.

A repeat of that  today and I won’t be unhappy.

Sevilla won by overwhelming Liverpool during the second half. Klopp blamed defeat on the night being their 63rd game of the season; Sevilla played the same number. Did Emery prepare his team better, physically? Does he still do so?

The concern is that we’re going into the game with a makeshift defence. Bellerin and both left-backs are “being assessed” following injury. Will they be fit? If none are, the pairing of Lichtsteiner and AMN on the left will bring us more benefit.

That pushes Xhaka back into midfield where Lucas Torreira wants him:

He’s an outlet for the first pass from defence and frustrates the opposition’s attackers. When he’s playing well, the team are going to win games.

We’re gaining points and me and him are playing minutes together and gaining experience together, which is important.

Lucas Torreira on Granit Xhaka

One thing nobody disputes, not even Xhaka’s critics, is that he “occupies space well”. Maybe there is a dispute over the word “well”…

Xhaka divides opinion but is showing himself to be more valuable to the team with his willingness to feature as left-back. However, it’s more important he plays in midfield; Liverpool without Keita and Henderson are there to be overpowered.

But is it Enough To Take Three Points?

Which is where Mesut Özil comes into his own, if he turns up. Not the one pushed to the periphary by Crystal Palace and ourselves, but the one who took centre stage against Leicester and all too briefly, Liverpool last season.

That isn’t lost on Laurent Koscielny:

When Mesut is in this form, he is unstoppable and makes us win. He has extraordinary qualities.

However, he needs to be at this level as much as possible this season. Great players are the ones playing at their best the whole season.

Lolo doesn’t mince his words

Therein is the crux of the matter. Emery made it plain his is a ‘carrot and stick’ approach. Play well, I’ll make you captain; play badly, you get hooked. The German got both in a week.

Which Özil will we get tonight? Much depends on the XI around him. With Iwobi on the right, there is more balance to the team but it’s defence which holds the key for us. Liverpool will punish our high line with the pace of their attack but we can do the same with Aubameyang and Iwobi on the flanks. Hopefully, Bellerin will be fit to support the attack as he has so ably this season. A bit of defending wouldn’t go amiss either.

Which brings us to the XI to do the damage to Liverpool’s title aspirations:

Leno; Bellerin (Lichtsteiner), Sokratis (Mustafi), Holding, Maitland-Niles; Torreira, Xhaka; Iwobi, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Can we take more than a point? It all depends on a good performance from kick-off. This is a match where a slow start won’t be forgiven by Liverpool. It’s not a 45-minute performance but from the start to the finish by the whole team, it needs to be our best of the season so far.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

90 thoughts on “Liverpool Preview: No Frills, Just Hard Work

  1. Bbbbbbbellisimo.
    Nice one YW
    Lost me a bit when you talked about the game.
    Great team( without the brackets)
    Hope no one is rushed back.
    I’ll take a good performance with some grit. Yum

  2. My sense is that the determining factor will be the extent to which our squad can reach back past their Blackpoolfulness to their Leicesterness. Confidence is what has tilted our scorelines (usually in the 2nd half of games) and given us this unbeaten run, and of course ‘pool have plenty cause to be confident too. It’s an arm wrestle. Given our hesitant starts, I can see ‘pool giving us quite some wrist ache in the early phases. But we have what we need to win this, and I think we will.

  3. Can’t say I’m feeling confident. I’d take a draw right now if it was offered.

    Just hope we are not out of the game by the end of the first half.

  4. Team news:

    Leno
    Bellerin—Mustafi—-Holding—-Sead
    Torriera—-Xhaka
    Mhkitaryan—Ozil—-Aubameyang
    Lacazette

    Subs::: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Smith-Rowe, Welbeck, Iwobi

  5. Nelson has scored another brilliant goal today. He is now the 3rd youngest player to ever score 5 goals in a Bundesliga season. Who is the youngest……..Prince Poldi!

  6. On this day, Saturday the 8th January, Arsenal played Liverpool at Highbury.

    After 25 games Liverpool top of the 1st Division and Arsenal were distinctly mid table, 12 points behind.

    As per the programme the ‘Voice of Arsenal’, we learn that the team is experiencing ‘mixed fortunes’, having lost 4-0 to Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing day, away, and winning 5-2 against the same opponents on the very next evening at home! Why the disparity of results, well, Arsenal had an answer. It was the pitch.

    Then we were facing an upcoming away FA Cup Tie with Blackburn Rovers For those of you who went, you may remember the cost of getting into the ground was 1/6d and the train ticket would have cost you 47/6d

    ‘Our Visitor’s’ tells us that Liverpool have not lost a game against us since their promotion from the Second Division three years earlier and they had also beaten us in two FA Cup Ties in that same time. Interestingly, in this age of rotation, they had only called on 12 players to date in their league programme.

    ‘Personality Profile’ spotlighted Jon Sammels,. He was spotted at the age of 15 in 1960 and was signed as an Apprentice in January 1961. He managed to score on each of his debuts for an Arsenal team, beginning with the SE Counties side. I can confirm that, contrary to the memory of many of the shouts of ‘Get your ‘air cut, Sammels!’, from the Highbury crowd, he was, in 1966, at least, a rather clean cut young man.

    As for other Arsenal youngsters, a look at the Metropolitan and SE Counties team sheets reveals that of the 20 or so players on show, only one, Pat Rice, went on to forge a career at the club.

    Also of note were two completed fixtures in November against Corinthians and Moscow Dynamo, listed as an ‘Other’ and a ‘Tour’ match respectively. No European games for us at that time so they sufficed, I suppose. We certainly put out the first 11 for them, winning both 2-0.

    The Arsenal team that day was:

    Burns, Howe, Storey, Mclintock, Neill, Court, Skirton, Sammels, Baker, Eastham, Armstrong

    Liverpool fielded:

    Lawrence, Bryne, Lawler, Milne, Yeats, Stevenson, Hunt, Smith, Callaghan, St. John, Thompson.

    The Programme of Music, as presented by the Metropolitan Police Band, included ‘The Voice of the Guns’ and in the ‘Pop Parade Selection’ Constable Alex Morgan sang ‘Serenade’. The ‘Arsenal Song was played to the tune of ‘Roll Out the Barrel’. Anyone remember that?

    Here is yesterday’s football result: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 1

  7. Although second half may prove me abjectly wrong, my impression so far is that we’re confirming that we belong in the top four.

  8. Looking at the replays, both goalies gave away what should have been penalties, and Sadio Mane’s goal was – er – a goal. Still – let’s not allow such details to cloud a riveting contest!

  9. Noon Gunner,

    Completely agree, about top four and I would imagine, Iwobi coming in could really change this because he will press and attack Robertson even more than Mhkitaryan is right now.

  10. From the BBC: “This is the most shots Liverpool have faced in the first half of a Premier League match (nine) since February 2017 vs Leicester (10).

    Arsenal still haven’t had the lead at half time in the league all season…”

  11. Leno and Torriera have show previously but certainly in this match that they are everything we have missed. Both have made a headscratching decision but those are forgotten with how otherwise brilliant they have been.

  12. Mustafi has been very good as well to the point that even Dixon said something to the effect of, if we saw more of this Mustafi paired with Holding, Arsenal could well have their CB partnership.

  13. We matched them at every level and evrry single player gave absolutely everything.

    Lacazette MOTM and absolutely deserved it.

  14. consolsbob: Chelsea player or the Arsenal one?

    Didn’t know he’d created more than one. I just had a flash of memory when I watched him getting final orders from Klopp.

  15. That’s the most exciting game I’ve seen from Arsenal for a very long while.

    That’s why I’m an Arsenal fan. Now I remember.

    Emery is showing just what we’ve been missing for so many years now.

    Ozil was back in defense, up front creating, working his balls off.

    Every player gave everything.

    That’s all I ask, win or lose, that the players give everything they’ve got, and they did.

    Mustafi looked good, Holding was immense.

    Leno is the no 1 from here on I suspect.

    Mikitaryn has good control and put the effort in too, as did PEA.

    Kolasinac did well after he shook the rust off.

    I thought we were the better team too, something the stats also confirm.

    What was that old soak Merson saying about us getting cut to shreds by pool?

    Suck on it you drunken prick!

  16. MikeSA,

    I agree with almost all of that but Merse is one of our legends. Can’t agree with the slagging, whatever he might say in all stupidity.

  17. Bob, personally I don’t consider Merson a legend at all. Never did.

    He’s a Chelsea fan and has never hesitated to put the boot in.

    And he is a drunk who isn’t very bright either.

  18. MikeSA,

    All that may be true but doesn’t bother me too much. He isn’t very bright, which explains most of his behaviour but he gave me glorious moments while wearing the shirt. Never doubted his commitment in our colours. I can’t go along with you on this.

  19. Bob, each to his own.

    He was a good player, that much I agree with.

    On his character and status regarding Arsenal?

    On that we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  20. MikeSA,

    It’s easy for pundits to say that. Makes them look intelligent if we did get thrashed and if not they can say we’ll they need to play like that every game

  21. MesutsLeftFoot,

    Yes, you’re quite correct, but this isn’t just about that.

    I do have some very different perspectives on some of our past players from when they were playing, not only now they’re pundits or whatever.

    Usually I don’t share my thoughts on them much but in this case this time i had no problem doing so.

  22. MesutsLeftFoot:
    MikeSA,

    It’s easy for pundits to say that. Makes them look intelligent if we did get thrashed and if not they can say we’ll they need to play like that every game

    Mind you, I think looking intelligent is dramatically out of scope as far as Merson is concerned.

  23. MikeSA,

    Completely agree and Lacazette took his goal superbly well.

    Is it fair to say that Mustafi and Holding look a proper CB pairing and I know people harp on Mustafi having from time to time a ‘mistake in him’, so do quite a number of CB’s. I think, now that he is getting properly coached up, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Mustafi and Holding forming quite the pair.

  24. Torreira is so good it is frightening. He’s sort of a Xavi Hernandez Upgrade. Faster, stronger, more aggressive … He’s the sort of player you build a dynasty around. Whoever bought him should be given a medal. I’m starting to get a hot flush …

  25. A spirited draw then.
    I think we played very well and to get that equalizer was immense. Well done all and it was a team effort.
    Mustafi is a conundrum. He still dives in and today his timing was good. He also plays the ball out of defence very well so he needs that rock – The bowler’s Holding, the batman’s Willey.

    Speaking of which – how good is Van Dijk? Very. I think he was the difference as we were definitely on top.

    However, a fair result and considering 3 years Klopp plus recent signings I am pretty happy with that.

    I was glad he played Myki on right as still think Iwobi is LHS but he just didn’t quite do it. Close and I felt he was key as the game unfolded but just not able to get us over the line. I feel he will be squad now.

    I still don’t understand why Ramsey can’t play RM. Great engine and better goal threat.

    But really everyone played well.

    Not speaking badly of our friend Bill – I miss his comments. But so glad we have Bellerin still. That would be crazy to sell him.

  26. C:
    MikeSA,

    Completely agree and Lacazette took his goal superbly well.

    Is it fair to say that Mustafi and Holding look a proper CB pairing and I know people harp on Mustafi having from time to time a ‘mistake in him’, so do quite a number of CB’s. I think, now that he is getting properly coached up, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Mustafi and Holding forming quite the pair.

    Can’t fault your commitment C.
    It is fair, today they were very good partnership, and Mustafi had his head on straight. They were also very ably supported by the two resurrected full backs. Bellers got proper tight to Mane, and Kola didn’t get caught upfield too much . Well impressed. Chuffed with that. Lots of Grit. Yum yum

  27. ferkov,

    I think today we saw what we could be defensively with a proper LB and everybody focused. The fact that Bellerin and Sead aren’t fully fit bodes well. Bellerin isn’t a problem, but we have to keep Sead fit.

  28. I know I might be in the minortity but I do think that Leno did the right thing and pushes the ball wide but was unlucky that instead of being harmlessly pushed wide, it deflected off of Holding into the area where Milner was and he reacted quicker than our players(that rarely happened) and took his goal.

    With that said, Leno was superb all match and came up with some massice saves including that one on VanDijk who seemed surprised that Leno was off his line that quick. Leno is the present and future; ladies and gentlemen meet Bernd Leno, Arsenal’s #1.

  29. C,

    They called that on Arsenal.com commentary tbf. Although with the caveat, that he maybe should have caught it.
    I don’t think they do so much cross training in Germany, so maybe not in his Locker… Yet. Jennings would have caught it in one Paw. That was then, Leno is Now. I concur #1

  30. Ferkov,

    He possibly should have caught it but pushing it wide was also on, just an unlucky deflection. In Germany, you often times see GK’s allow their CB’s to deal with that, even Neuer and terStegen, but in the PL it doesn’t work the same and Leno will learn. With that said, his shot stopping coupled with his distribution has him #1.

  31. What an enjoyable match!

    Some Points:

    I’m with C…I would not call the goal against a blunder. A bit of bad luck…I love the way Leno helps us break the press.

    I would have chosen Torreira as the MOTM. Yes, Lacazette scored (a beauty, too) but imagine our midfield with our little man!

    I loved the confidence, the purpose and the resolve of the team we saw yesterday.

    Look on the bright side, with Merson employed by Sky, he’s off the dole!

  32. Ferkov:
    C,

    They called that on Arsenal.com commentary tbf. Although with the caveat, that he maybe should have caught it.
    I don’t think they do so much cross training in Germany, so maybe not in his Locker… Yet. Jennings would have caught it in one Paw. That was then, Leno is Now. I concur #1

    Perfect remark 👍

  33. All links to fancy whizzy stuff like email addresses JG. Nothing to do with me changing stuff. You using a different email or IP address?

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