Firstly, in case any stray Liverpuddlers happen to pass by, let me just say (in the immortal words of Harry Enfield’s Three Scousers): Calm down, calm down.
This article is not an attempt to disrespect your fine team which was performed so admirably in the last few seasons.
Rather it is a chance for an Arsenal fan (that’s me, by the way) to measure our new look team against one of the best two outfits in the Premier League.
And yes, there will be room for some of your lot in my final eleven – I’m not completely partisan.
One thing to remember: if I was doing this exercise at the end of last season a combined Liverpool-Arsenal eleven would have very few Gunners in it. But things feel different at The Arsenal right now, as I hope we will demonstrate at Anfield this weekend.
Our new signings have already shown promise, some of our young players are breaking into the first team in impressive style and we have started a league season with two wins for the first time in a decade.
I have based the comparison on line-ups that might actually play on Saturday, so long-term injuries are excluded.
Right, let’s get down to business (you Scousers pay attention at the back and don’t nick the pencils).
Goalkeeper: Adrián San Miguel del Castillo vs Bernd Leno
Neither custodian is in the de Gea class so this is a close call. I know Hammers fans who thought Adrian was OK but nothing to write home about (a good job really given that you’d run out of ink just writing his full name). Leno meanwhile has proved himself a first rate shot stopper but can look nervous with high balls into the box.
Full Back: Andy Robertson v Nacho Monreal.
This one goes to Robertson, who has been a consistent performer for Liverpool with plenty of attacking threat. Nacho has been a very solid defender but his best years may be behind him. It will be a closer call when the choice is between Robertson and our new left back Kieran Tierney.
Full Back: Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Two young men with double-barrelled names, impressing early in their careers. Given that TAA has played more Premier League games than AMN and that AMN is only a makeshift fullback, this has to go to Alexander-Arnold. A different story when Bellerin is returned to fitness of course – Hector would walk this one.
Centre Back: Virgil van Dijk vs Sokratis
Solid and consistent though our Hercules has been, this is a no-contest. VVD is one of the best centre backs in world footy.
Verdict: van Dijk.
Centre Back: Joel Matip vs David Luiz
Matip has been a low-key but steady performer at Liverpool for a few seasons now, but Luiz has the edge with experience, knowhow and his deep-lying playmaker ability.
Midfield: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain vs Joe Willock
We know and kinda love Oxo. He was always an ‘almost’ player for us and his time at Liverpool has been patchy and blighted by serious injury. Willock has already shown more of an up side in just a few starts for the Arse than Oxo ever did. I’m going Willock.
Midfield: James Milner vs Matteo Guendouzi
I love Gwen’s positive attitude and energy, although he is still a bit raw. Milner is one of those players who just keeps going and going, using a wise head and years of experience to make up for any decline in physicality and speed. A close one because these two are real opposites, but I’m shading Gwen.
Midfield: Georginio Wijnaldum vs Dani Ceballos
I know the Scousers will be outraged, but I have to go for Ceballos even based on just one performance for Arsenal. This guy has it all and will be at the Santi Cazorla, David Silva level this year if he keeps it up.
Wide Attacker: Mo Salah vs Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
You couldn’t get a Rizla between these two. Last season Salah bagged 22 Premier League goals in 38 appearances; Auba had 22 in 36. However, given that Salah was playing in a much better functioning team last year, I’m giving it to Auba. He got the same amount of goals in fewer games with worse service.
Wide Attacker: Sadio Mane vs Pepe
Mane scored 22 goal in 36 appearances in the Prem last season. Pepe got 22 in 38 for Lille in Ligue Un. I think (or at least hope) Pepe will turn out to be the better player this season but his lack of experience of the EPL counts against him, so it’s Mane for this one.
Forward: Roberto Firmino vs Alexandre Lacazette
This one’s a bit like Salah vs Aubameyang. Firmino netted 12 in 34 in the league last year, Laca got 13 in 35. However, the same point applies – Firmino was a striker in a high-performing team, Laca was doing the job in a semi-struggling team.
There you have it. My combined Liverpool-Arsenal starting line-up is this:
Alexander-Arnold – van Dijk – Luiz – Robertson
Willock – Ceballos – Guendouzi
Mane – Lacazette – Aubameyang
Seven Arsenal, four Liverpool. Seems pretty fair, don’t you think?
Calm down, calm down (nice shell suits 😂)
Very fair, to me!! Must admit, I’m not really looking forward to tomorrow though, that place, of late, has filled me with nothing but fear & disappointment…although it’s about time that changed!!
I noticed yesterday, after purchasing tickets for the Villa game (yay!!), there is an international break, after the spud game!! Bloody hell, already!!! 4 games in… it really bores the pants off of me! Waited all that time for the league to start.. 4 games in.. bam!! International break 😴
hahaha firmino instead of pepe
No, because they are Dippers!
Good man, Rocky! That will stir the pot! Hope for an exciting game, with The Arse playing up to their potential to the very end of the 96mins. If that ain’t good enough, fair enough, Scousers!
Well that should create some debate, well done Rock.
Sue, like you I often don’t look forward to visiting the red side of the city that gave us Vernons and Littlewoods, but not this time, I’m really looking forward to matching the new Arsenal against the Champions of Europe…
Whatever the result, I reckon we’ll put in a performance against a fine Liverpool side who are already under pressure!
Yes, Man City are relentless and the Scousers cannot, even at this stage of the season, start dropping points, it’s going to be that close again.
Thanks Rocky, very surprised that you haven’t had a few more bites on this yet.
I would look at this, with the available players, as to what would be the strongest 11 you could pick from both sides to play Man City say. I would mix current form with proven quality and experience.
We dont quite know enough about many of our team yet this season and our front 3 and their front 3 both look scary and exciting but the Pool front 3 are a fully developed, gelled together unit. We are yet to see how Auba, Laca, and Pepe gel.
I am sorry to say that my team therefore has more Pool players in it. Sorry to be a traitor. This would be the combined strongest available 11 for me at present if they were to play Man City:
TAA, VVD, Luiz, Robertson
Willock, Milner, Ceballos
Salah, Auba, Mane
Who knows by Christmas Pepe may look the stronger, or perhaps even our entire front 3. Been speaking to a few Scotsman as well and they say many believe Tierney to have more potential than Robertson, so watch this space.
A super Post, Rocket, and very pleasantly put too.
These things are always subjective, and one’s allegiance naturally has a strong influence in weighing up the pros and cons, but a man’s gotta do what a mon’s gotta do.
I want to say the choices you have made are spot on — and they probably are — but ……. I think the inestimable judgement of the camel herder, aka Gooner B, just shades it for me, and the reason he makes for his choices are based on fact, and not just wishful thinking.
Que? Well we are hopeful that the gloomy days are behind us, and the sun will shine on our endeavours in the future. The fact is, the Pool have a team that won the CL rather handily, and finished narrowly second to an immensely talented City team.
That’s what we want for the Arsenal, but I think more of the current team will wave us a sorrowful goodbye, and other players will be brought in to take us to the next level — but we, and our team, are not there yet.
Camels take it by a
Nice one, Kev! I do agree with you, about us putting a shift in!! I’m actually hopeful that I won’t be turning over after 20 minutes! 😀
Do you normally turn over every 20 minutes?
If so, that means you revolve 3 times an hour, a bit like a chicken on a rotisserie! 😳
Leno – TA, Luiz, VD, Rob – Mane, Henderson, Torreira, Salah – Laca, Auba
I d set up in a 442
If Alison was fit, he d get the nod over Leno.
RA.. well I guess it could have been worse – you could have likened me to a hog roast…bearing in mind, I’m a veggie, you soooo would have received a bitch slap 😄
And, smart arse (new name for you) leave my leg alone, I thought you said you weren’t going to tug (😆) on it any more!! You know I was only getting at the 20 minute, 4 goal demolition by Suarez, Sturridge, Brenda, the team mascot… you remember – that bloody free for all ( which still gives me nightmares!)
Thanks for the comments everyone.
It’s a funny thing doing an exercise like the one in this Post.
I reckon all my decisions in each specific case are defensible and even logical, yet you end up with a first team that has 7 Arse and 4 Scouse – so taken as a whole, it seems bonkers given the recent achievements of the two teams.
I suspect Redders has the right of it: I might be pinning a bit too much hope on the Arsenal end of things after a just couple of wins and some good individual performances.
GoonerB’s point about ‘Pool being a more ‘gelled’ settled unit makes sense as well and I probably haven’t given that sufficient weight in my assessments.
So I guess I still stand by my man-for-man judgements, but taken as an overall you’d probably say Liverpool are a better team than Arsenal at the moment.
I guess we’ll get some answers tomorrow – I’m really looking forward to this game and have a good feeling about it. (There’s that ‘hope’ thing again).
What do we make of Fabinho? I find him quite good and also Gomez
I think Emery will play 352 and line up a team that can cope physically but also cope with the Liverpool press so I can see us play Laca and Auba up front and then have a very compact block with AMN, Torreira, Chambers, Guendouzi, Kola in the middle and Sok, Luiz and Monreal at the back 3
Xhaka and Willock may get the nod ahead of Chambers and Guendouzi but other than that, I think emery will want fast players that can get in behind Liverpool fbs when needed
No, no, Sue that wasn’t a leg pull.
I am an accountant and I was simply trying to be kind and help out with the math, and I was also somewhat tempted by the thought of either a nice rotisserie chicken or duck for lunch.
Couldn’t make my mind up — so I had one of each. 😎
You know what its like when you (or me, on occasion) write something, the only way to avoid dissension in the ranks, is to be blindingly bland, or to fill the article with caveats.
Neither of us do anything of the sort — we just write as we think. I am of course tying myself firmly to your coat tails, so I can blame you, if the need arises. 😇
As for your choices of which members of the Arsenal or ‘Pool teams could make the strongest combined team, if selected, I could not argue against any of it.
We as a club have been spiralling downwards from the heights of the Invincibles team, for years, and yet Klip Klop has put together a very creditable team within 4 years or so, and he probably will continue to improve them, whereas Embers is a new boy — and does not have much to brag about yet.
Stick with the selections you made — as I previously said — with your knowledge and experience, you will probably be proven to be correct! 😏
Thanks for the effort Rocky, greatly appreciated, top read as ever.
The U23’s play tonight – more minutes for Holding & ESR…
I wonder if Iwobi will make his debut tonight & seal it with a hat trick??!! Hmmm…….
@ Rocky. Nice job of the post. I can’t bring myself to put any of their players in my team so I’d take this one:
AMN, Sokratis, Luiz, Nacho
Willock, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ceballos
Of course no way Unai will do that, but IMHO, it’s our best line up for THIS game. Pepe and nelson off the bench if needed.
Go Gooners !!!!!!!!!!
Evening all … morning Mike.
Thanks for the post Rocky … I’d expected more abuse from pool fans … maybe they’re apprehensive 🙂 Actually I thought your choices were spot on.
Mike, FGG sent in the pre-match for the game a few days ago … and now I’ve received an equally good one from you … I don’t know what to do … if I combine them it will be by far the longest post we’ve ever published.
Maybe we could publish 2 pre-match posts tomorrow … only problem is I’m out from 12 playing crocket.
Rasp. I got an email from peaches telling me FGG is doing it. That’s fine which is why is sent it as if needed. I think it could be useful post game in 2 ways. 1) we win and it will show that sometimes us fans can be way off on our analysis and we should trust the manager. That’s the outcome I’m hoping for. Or 2) that we try the same old stuff that we tried last year and it doesn’t work. That’s the one I’m dreading. Or 3) It just doesn’t apply !! Either way, no problem.
I have decided that I really like Everton.
Walcott, Iwobi, if we can just convince them to take Mustafi back it would be just about perfect.
Go Toffees or what ever they say up there.
Thanks Mike, great suggestions … leave it with me.
Hold one back and use it next week with what I would imagine to be minor necessary adjustments.
Guys Monreal is leaving to Real Sociedad. Am stunned as he was good in a back three to the left.
Well that sucks, that means he probably won’t play tomorrow.
Wow – wasn’t expecting that one.
LB – loved your earlier comment about the Toffees 😀
More Kolasinac for me then!
Morning all … the big day is here!
… New post …
Hahahaha absolute dreamers.
7 arsenal players in a combined 11.
No Salah in there and you’re trying to defend your choices as fair.
Dream on losers.