Arsenal vs Liverpool Preview: Emirates Record Starts Anew

I can’t stand Monday games. You spend all day at work then you have a lull between finishing and getting to the game, as well as the journey home in the early hours. Anyway onto today’s preview against Liverpool. We go into tonight’s match having lost our opener against West Ham and look to start a long  undefeated run at home.

Last season we were very strong at home and to challenge for the title you need to make your ground a fortress. Arsene Wenger has acknowledged this:

“If you want to have a successful season you want to be strong at home. Normally we are strong at home. This is an opportunity to show that. We missed our first game and we had to look at ourselves, and we responded very well. Now we need to come back to our usual strength that we have at home.”

 

I think we’ll pick the same team that beat Crystal Palace with the only potential change being Walcott for Giroud. Hopefully we can finally start firing on all cylinders and give some encouragement to the fans, as well as boost the players’ confidence. Maybe the threat of playing a team like Liverpool will give us the focus we need.

We’re in the stages of the season where teams are still finding their feet, as seen over the last 3 weeks, and there is no consistency yet. The only team, so far, who seems to be firing is Manchester City. Even though Liverpool have won both their games and United have won 2 drawn 1 they aren’t looking great, yet.

A win tonight will take us into the top 6 and other than that there’s not much else to ask more, apart from a positive goal difference.

Regarding transfer news, there is a lot of buzz around Karim Benzema, Grzegorz Krychowiak and  Edinson Cavani still. Personally I think if we are going to sign any of them it would be the latter 2, even then it’s hopeful we’d get both. I know everyone wants Benzema and he is the dream but would you take him for £50m over potentially the other 2 at £60m?

Wenger has announced that he is ready to make a gamble in the transfer market if the correct players are available:

“There is always time to take a gamble and we are not against taking a gamble,’ said the manager. But what you want is to take a gamble in a market where the opportunity is there.

I believe this squad is ready to fight for the title and has a chance to do it given that we are continuing to develop as a team. That is the first thing. Internally we have the resources to do that and it is also important that we don’t have too many major injuries like last year.

I said before that I don’t know how good the other teams will be. Man City started especially in an impressive way but the season is long.”

 

Liverpool Preview: 3 points over revenge

We travel up north to Anfield today, where last season we were embarrassed. Although we did beat Liverpool two out of three times last year, one was on the road to FA Cup glory, the away game is the one that sticks in peoples’ minds.

Szczesny will start in goal, as he did against Newcastle. With Calum Chambers returning from suspension I expect to see him start in the CB position alongside Per Mertesacker. Debuchy will move back to RB and Gibbs to LB. Our strongest back four with Koscielny out injured.

Calum Chambers, as much as we all love him, has given us decent performances after being thrown in the deep end but he has had his inexperience exposed several times. He is not as assured as Koscielny and I hope the pace of some of the Liverpool players don’t cause him to make any rash decisions.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was in training yesterday so I assume he’ll start today in central midfield where he is in his element. Flamini, being our only choice of defensive midfielder, will start alongside Chamberlain with Cazorla ahead in the number 10 role.

The forward three pick themselves. Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and, of course, Alexis Sanchez. With Brendan Rodgers whinging and whining that Alexis Sanchez only picked Arsenal over Liverpool due to the locale of the clubs is laughable. I hope the Chilean thrusts the dagger deeper and twists whilst not breaking eye contact and giving a wink at the end.

I mentioned a few transfer rumours doing the rounds on Friday’s post but there are a couple that are really heating up and not going away. We were linked with Morgan Schneiderlin in the summer but were told by Southampton that he is one player that won’t be sold amongst the fire sale. With their sudden string of bad results they could possibly be tempted to sell the defensive midfielder for a decent sized bid.

The other player, Christoph Kramer, is also a defensive midfielder who is currently on loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach from Bayer Leverkusen. He is the younger of the two and also the bigger physically. Kramer would also fit in with the current German ethos we have adopted.

When questioned about the January transfer window, Wenger had this to say:

“I’ve said that many times, without any doubt: if we find the right player we will do a deal. There’s a huge difference between the perception that people have of me: I’m not scared to spend money. It was periods where we had not the money. What I don’t like is to spend the money I haven’t got. What I fought against is to spend money that would put the future of the club in danger. Now I have money. No problem at all.”

 

You can’t argue that he is worried about spending the money now either, after our last few windows. Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck all show that he is willing to spend. But for those asking him to buy a player like Paul Pogba or Arturo Vidal, who I would love at Arsenal, I don’t see him going in for them due to the bidding competition.

Friday News Roundup

The big news this week has obviously been about Thierry Henry’s retirement. A remarkable footballer and above all a remarkable man. Henry had achieved everything in his career, football wise, unfortunately not all of it was at Arsenal. He still talks about how he regrets scoring the second goal, when he was one-on-one with Valdes, in the Champions League final.

There are so many memories that I don’t need to mention them as we all have our own favourite. Good luck to Thierry in his new punditry career with Sky Sports. If you remember in the World Cup when he was doing pundit work with the BBC he put Savage and co to the sword with his intelligence and brilliance.

There is some early team news ahead of the Liverpool match on Sunday regarding Chamberlain, Monreal and Walcott.
According to Wenger:

“We hope that Oxlade-Chamberlain will be fit. We’ll see that on Saturday. He’s not in training at the moment. There’s a slight chance of Monreal being available and a very slight chance for Walcott.”

Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta are all definitely ruled out and Rosicky is also doubtful. Just as things were looking up with injured players returning to the squad, to give us a boost through the tough Christmas period, they have now crumbled and gone back to square one. Let’s hope they will not be out for too long. I’m not including Diaby.

This leads us into the big debate of the January transfer window. Who will we buy? Will he even buy? Who is available? We all know we desperately need a CB and a DM but will we buy one in each position or a player who can play both positions? Only one man really knows.

Koscielny, who was the key to our superb defensive performances last season, is having a stop-start season so far. Plagued by the achilles injury early on in the season, only to pick up a calf problem which has put him back on the sidelines sums it all up. Wenger has quashed any surgery rumours though, and confirmed he is not going the way of Vermaelen, and will be back soon.

“Koscielny is out (for the game on Sunday).But he is progressing as planned.”

Hector Bellerin, who has recently broken into the squad due to our lack of defenders, has caught the attention of Bayer Leverkusen. The right back has performed exceptionally when called upon, apart from that dismal game at Stoke where the entire team were poor. I don’t think we’d sell him, not for quite a few years anyway.

As what is custom at this time of year, we have been linked with several long-term targets again. A bid, of $26m, is supposedly being readied for Barcelona’s Pedro, a player I think would suit us well and also provide a familiar link up with Alexis. But this could only happen if we sell Podolski and loan out Campbell.

Other players being linked are Christoph Kramer, Lucas Silva & Marco Reus after Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Perez, admits they will be quiet in the transfer market next month.

 “Except for extraordinary circumstances, no signings will be made in the January transfer window and now there is nothing”

This is obviously to be taken with a pinch of salt.

That’s all for today and hopefully we’ll have more team news tomorrow.