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Arsenal vs Liverpool


Rory Fitzgerald

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We owe these .... even more so after Oldham !! The traditional - we win at Anfield and loose away hasn't been very 'traditional' lately. They haven't lost at Anfield since Crouch's hattrick in 2007 (3 wins & 2 draws since) so we could do with giving them one at their place !

 

Form guide against Top 10 teams is weak on both sides;

 

AFC Home - W2 D0 L3

LFC Away - W0 D3 L4

 

Last 6 form guide in terms of home & away;

 

AFC Home - W4 D0 L2

LFC Away - W2 D1 L3

 

Our form in general though over the last 6 league games is slightly better than theirs

 

AFC - W3 D1 L2

LFC - W4 D0 L2

 

 

Goals

Arsenal are joint top scorers at home along with Utd with 30 scored in 11 home games. However, in 5 of those games they scored only 1 goal or less so they can be contained at home if we get our game right. Alot of their goals have come from capitulations with 4 games seeing them score 5 or more goals. They only scored 2 goals at home in 1 game and similarily only scored 3 goals at home in 1 game. Its not like their 30 goals has been averaged out with plenty of 2 or 3 goals in each game like Utd who have scored either 2, 3 or 4 goals in 10 of their 11 home games.

 

Also, Arsenal have the 5th worst defensive record at home conceding 16 in 11 games with 6 teams scoring 2 or more at The Emirates from those 11 games. We have the 4th best attacking record away from home with 18 goals in 11 games - only 2 teams stopped us scoring, the opening day of the season vs West Brom and Swansea away when Enrique scored a borderline offside goal. However, of our 11 away games we have conceded 2 or more in 7 of those 11 with only 2 clean sheets.

 

 

Their possible line up

 

Szczesny

Sagna Mertesacker* Vermaelen Gibbs

Wilshire [Diaby**/Ramsey]

Carzola

Walcott Giroud Podolski

 

*Koscielny & Mertesacker have alternated this season but Mertesacker has been in recently given the red card Koscielny picked up vs City

**Diaby is only recently back from injury but has 2 or 3 games behind him though didn't play the last Prem game vs West Ham

 

If he does go for Koscielny over Mertesacker then the following is worth remembering;

"Who is the forward I hate to face? Suarez. He is tiresome to defend against. He cheats. He pulls your shirt, giving small blows. You always want to give him a kick but you have to be careful not to be red carded.

 

  • Their front 4 have scored 33 of Arsenal's 46 league goals and they've 46 between them in all competitions this season.
     
  • In their last 8 matches, 15 of their 18 goals have come in the 2nd half.
     
  • Don't be surprised to see Carzola put in a real shift early on to press our midfielders when we try to play out of defence. Podolski and Walcott will also press us hard early on.
     
  • Sagna generally plays very high at home and will give us a headache on our left behind Walcott. However, its also a position we could exploit as the full backs do push on, even Gibbs. If we can get our strikers to play wide-of-center when on the break and get a midfielder running on, its an area we can catch them on the counter especially as Sagna has not been water-tight this season and has been the weaker of the 2 FB's in general.
     
  • He hasn't scored yet this season but Vermaelen is a threat. Whilst he has been somewhat more restrained since he got the captaincy, I expect him (at least once) to just 'Forrest-Gump' it and run forward in a straight line beyond everyone. If it happens, our players will have a decision to make very very quickly, someone track him or leave him. Leave him and they try hit him, track him and they'll play the ball into the man left free. Its one of those 'mix-it-up' tactics Arsenal do - though probably more Vermaelen's maverick style than actual tactic.
     
  • Another 'mix it up' tactic is hitting Giroud early. Arsenal play the ball on the deck alot but now and again, Giroud pulls off the central defender and drops into Carzola-territory. If the CB doesn't follow him out, they pop the ball onto his chest to take down and try hit teams quickly by taking out the oppositions midfield. If Giroud looses his man and controls it, there's potential to lay it off to Carzola with Walcott & Podolski making moves ahead. Its basic in itself but sometimes teams get accustomed to expecting the shorter pass and not necessarily a ball popped high into the center-forward.
     

 

 

As for Liverpool's options and possible line up;

 

Defence

 

Our back line pretty much picks itself from the personnel available;

 

Reina, Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson. I'm glad Johnson is forced into LB for this one because I think they play alot down their right with Sagna & Walcott despite Gibbs playing the better of the 2 full backs this season. But also, the right side might just be more susceptible given Mertesacker plays right of center when Sagna bombs on so Johnson could get ahead but more likely let one of the strikers pull to that side and get at Mertesacker or give Koscielny a head-ache vs Suarez. On the left, Gibbs is playing well whilst Vermaelen is their best center half and covers that side (I've assumed he will recover from injury).

 

 

Midfield Combinations

Its likely that midfield is a choice of 3 from Lucas, Gerrard, Allen and Henderson. Below is our record in the league with the different combinations.

 

Lucas Gerrard Henderson

Played 2 and won 6 points, Sunderland home & Norwich home.

 

Allen Gerrard Henderson

Played 3 and won 6 points QPR away, Spurs away, Wigan home (Suso started but 1st half tactical change and goals came when Henderson came on)

 

Lucas Allen Gerrard

Played 6 and won 7 points - West Brom away, Swansea away, S'ton home, Utd away, West Ham away, Villa home. City home game not counted as Lucas injured after 5 mins.

 

Of the 11 games when 3 of those 4 players have played, Henderson played in 5 and we won 4. However, the 5 games weren't the toughest and the game we lost was fairly tough i.e. Spurs away.

 

When the other 3 played, they have a record of 7 points from 6 games but there were a fair few away games in there so it suggests that its Rodgers favoured trio and Utd away recently confirmed that.

 

I think most wanted Henderson to start at Old Trafford and given Arsenal's style I reckon even more would recognise that we need his legs in this game. It will be interesting to see what Rodgers does in this one.

 

 

 

Attack

 

We are still in the transfer window and the concern in December was that we would leave business until the last few days. We got Sturridge in very early and going into this game on January 30th, he is well settled in. No longer is he 'Daniel Sturridge, needs time to settle', he's 'Daniel Sturridge, scored 3 in 3 and is linking well with Suarez'.

 

After Utd away, we cannot risk leaving Suarez isolated and after Sturridge's form, he has to play. I would like to see the following 11 players on the pitch which would mean a diamond midfield.

 

Reina

 

Wisdom Skrtel Agger Johnson

 

Lucas

Gerrard ....... Allen

Henderson

 

Suarez Sturridge

 

- Choice of Borini, Sterling, Shelvey, Downing and Suso as attack minded players off the bench so we have good cover given Assaidi is at the African Cup of Nations.

 

  • Its a diamond, I know, but its our 11 best available players out on the pitch. Arguments can be had over Allen but I think he can offer more in this game than a Downing or Sterling given the opposition and how the game is likely to pan out.
     
  • Arsenal are very likely to have more of the ball than us so I think we need to close off the center of the pitch. Their full backs could be a bigger threat if we set up in a diamond but if we play a 4-3-3 I dont see the necessary tracking back to help our FB's anyway.
     
  • Suarez is a great defender from the front and Sturridge is not lazy whilst Henderson will work hard. We should go out with the Utd game in mind i.e. don't sit off them, those 3 can work hard high up the pitch and Gerrard, Allen and Lucas can back them up. I think there is a energy to press them and I think thats the tactic thats needed against these given their quality on the ball and movement off the ball - the less time they have better.
     
  • Henderson would not be greatest goal threat in that position but he would be able to break and join our attackers quickly if there is a break. Get the strikers wide behind their fullbacks when their attacks break down. In such cases, they are likely to have a back 3 with Ramsey (if he plays) almost dropping in like Busquets does at Barca and the 2 CB's spread a bit wider. Our strikers are very confident on the ball to take a man on and Henderson could be given licence to get ahead of them.
     
  • Alas, it is likely that it won't be a diamond and one of Sterling and Downing will play. If thats the case, I think they'd have to play on the left and work back with Sagna but also to exploit him when we attack. They'd also have to work back with Gibbs but may not get as much joy trying to exploit that side on the break.

 

Conclusion: Arsenal away isn't what it used to be. We've only lost 1 of the last 5 away to them. Furthermore, there's not much between the 2 teams this season as the league table shows. Enough teams have gone to the Emirates and restricted Arsenal to 1 goal or less and a few have themselves managed to score 2. They've the 5th worst home record for conceding and we've the 4th best record for scoring away. We are in decent form. There are points available in this game, definitely 1 and quite possibly 3 if the players go out with confidence, play well & work hard.

 

The referee is Kevin Friend who has a pretty average record of cards/game ratio. He's taken charge of Arsenal twice with them winning 6-1 v S'ton and 7-5 v Reading whilst our only game with him this season was home to Wigan which we won 3-0. His most controversial moment with us was sending Spearing off away to Fulham last season.

 

PaddyPower says

 

Arsenal 13/10

Draw 12/5

Liverpool 2/1

 

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Edited by Rory Fitzgerald
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Might we see Downing back at LB ?

 

Reina

Johnson Skrtel Agger Downing

Gerrard Lucas Henderson

Suarez Sturridge Borini

 

Think I'd prefer Downing in for Borini, but not sure Wisdom or Robinson will get the call for this one.

 

I dont mind that front 6 but if we are to play them then the approach has to be to press them high and push the whole team forward.

 

As for the back line then I would disagree with Downing for all the reasons I pointed out in my opening post.

 

However, I dont mind the 4-3-3 with three strikers however, the mentality has to be to compress them very high if that is the approach with those 3 players leading by example.

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Reina (please be fit)

 

Wisdom Carra Agger Johnson

 

Gerrard, Henderson, Lucas

 

Downing Sturridge Suarez

 

One of Downing few good games for us was Arsenal away last season, I put this down to the fact they have some even bigger s***houses than he is.

 

Last time that team played we won 5-0, be just f***ing perfect to get a 1-0 here, would be massive for our season.

Edited by The_Adder
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I'm not sure why as Gerrard and Allen work well together.

You're basing that on the Mancs away when Allen should've been given the hook.

Lucas gives Gerrard better licence and platform to go influence a game and he has even said that himself.

 

Plus Allen will be wiped out by Diaby.

Edited by Benzo-13
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I'm not sure why as Gerrard and Allen work well together.

 

What are you basing this on? When Allen looked good Gerrard was still finding his feet. Allen hasn't shown much since Gerrard found form.

 

Ideally, Lucas, Allen and Gerrard are our best midfield but we haven't seen that. The best midfield we have seen this season is Lucas, Gerrard and Henderson. They are also the most in form midfielders we have at the moment, so for me it is an easy decision to start with them.

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What are you basing this on? When Allen looked good Gerrard was still finding his feet. Allen hasn't shown much since Gerrard found form.

 

Ideally, Lucas, Allen and Gerrard are our best midfield but we haven't seen that. The best midfield we have seen this season is Lucas, Gerrard and Henderson. They are also the most in form midfielders we have at the moment, so for me it is an easy decision to start with them.

 

Agree, also would be inclined to play Downing, Sturridge and Luis up front

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What are you basing this on? When Allen looked good Gerrard was still finding his feet. Allen hasn't shown much since Gerrard found form.

One of the best midfield displays this season is still Gerrard and Allen against Utd at Anfield. They were pretty good against City too.

 

When we moved to Gerrard and Allen in midfield at Old Trafford, there was a noticeable improvement. Even yesterday, they did ok together when Gerrard came on.

 

Lucas - Gerrard and Allen - Gerrard both look decent CM pairings to me. Jury is still out on Lucas - Allen and any CM combination involving Henderson. (Henderson looks much better playing ahead of the two CMs.)

 

That's how I see it anyhow.

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