Liverpool v Arsenal … The First Big Test of the Season

Recent meetings:

18/19 Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal

17/18 Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal

16/17 Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal

15/16 Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal

14/15 Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Last Arsenal win:

12/13 Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal

Arsenal

After a pair of narrow victories against lesser opposition, Arsenal head to Anfield for their first real test of the season. So far, the team have shown good battling qualities and a reliance on Aubameyang’s clinical finishing in order to get 6 points out of 6, but if they are to continue with the strong start then they will need to perform much better than they have so far.

The natural thinking is that we will head into the game looking to soak up pressure in the first 20 minutes and build from there. There may even be a temptation for Emery to bring in more experienced players like Torreira and Xhaka and switch to a back 3, but I’m really hoping that Emery holds his nerve and continues with the 4-2-3-1 and the young, hungry players he’s relied upon so far.

I think this is the first time in a long time that we are going to Anfield with players who pose a real threat to the opposition and can hurt them. Based on that, I’d actually like to see us play an attacking side and see if we can go toe to toe with the scousers. There is no doubt that Salah, Mane and Firmino are a world class trio, but we have three players of our own who are just as capable and it would be a joy to watch Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang given the chance to run at the Liverpool defence and see who comes out on top in a good old-fashioned shoot out. 

Liverpool

As for our opposition, they had their usual strong first half at home to Norwich in week 1 which was enough for victory, and then struggled a little against Southampton which is understandable given they had 120 minutes of midweek Super Cup action. I don’t think Liverpool have actually started the season very well and will be alarmed at the amount of chances they have given up to lower quality opposition.

Chelsea ran them ragged at times in the Super Cup and even Norwich and Southampton managed to break through their back line. Everyone was keen to hype up their defence last season but I see the right hand side as a real weakness. TAA is a fantastic attacking full back but he gives away opportunities at the other end, and they haven’t quite decided who should play next to him with Gomez and Matip sharing responsibilities but neither being anywhere near the level of Van Dijk.

Possible line-ups ….

Key Areas

Liverpool usually start fast and can blow sides away in the first 25 minutes, so we need to take the sting out of the crowd by keeping the ball well and making sure we are able to get up the field when in possession. I think Ceballos will be key here as he is capable of holding possession in tight areas and he can draw fouls with his quick feet.

Pepe should start as his dribbling ability could be vital in launching counter attacks and getting through their press. If we can establish a foothold in the game then Aubameyang down that left hand side could be our match winner as TAA is prone to being caught up the field and can be exposed.

Our passing out of the back from goal kicks still looks like a work in progress, and if we surrender possession as much as we did against Burnley then we could end up shooting ourselves in the foot. A few raking passes from Luiz would be a godsend and could be a way for us to get through their press if he can be accurate.

Set pieces will be important at both ends. Van Dijk and Matip are very good in the air and will need to be marshalled properly as Liverpools delivery is usually spot on. At the other end, Ceballos’ delivery actually made us look dangerous from corners against Burnley and with Adrian flapping around in goal it could be a way for us to get a cheap goal.

Positives

With Spurs up next, this is a real testing period for Arsenal and will show us where we are in terms of finishing top 4. There is a lot of excitement around the club at the moment and I’d hate to see that fade if results don’t go our way in these next 2 matches. We need to remember that Spurs and Liverpool are years ahead of us in terms of their recent projects and that we are still in the very early stages of a rebuild with a lot of our new signings not even starting a game yet.

These are exciting times at the Emirates and whilst the next couple of results will be important, they will not define our season or our future and we should not let a poor result diminish the positive feeling around the club. Let’s keep it upbeat and get behind this young, talented squad.

fatgingergooner

65 Responses to Liverpool v Arsenal … The First Big Test of the Season

  1. LB says:

    Top read Slim, thanks

    I am hopping up and down with excitement, can’t wait for kick off, I am trying to remember if I am like this at the beginning of every season or is this some how different.

    For the first time in a long time I find myself not knowing how far this squad can collectively go, the combination of Auba, Laca and Pepe is scary good, how good is scary good, I just don’t know and that is what makes it all the more exciting.

    I am afraid that I do not expect to win but that is not dampening my excitement, if Marne scores two of the goals he scored against Southampton to take the points, well, I can live with that but what I don’t want to have to do is spend next week reliving a pair of Mustafi type errors that cost us the game.

    Still, all that pessimism has to be balanced with a little bit of optimism and the little boy inside my head will always be whispering: We are Arsenal, of course, we will win.

    I like that team up there, really, what is not to like but I don’t think that Emery will go with it, for good or bad, I expect Xhaka to return.

    I was probably a bit too hasty in my prediction that as Monreal is expected to be moving back close to home soon he will not feature in today’s game due to fear of injury etc but now I think I was completely wrong, of course, he will play and what’s more Super Nacho will lead them out as captain.

    COYRRG

  2. LB says:

    If you look at the players on the right and in particular their facial expressions you will notice how they all got the message to look keen and excited about joining the club.

    Except Tierney…………………….

    If there was a caption coming out of his mouth what do you think he would be saying?

  3. fatgingergooner says:

    LB,

    I think you might be correct in saying Emery will go for a little more experience, and I agree that it would be ok to lose as long as we don’t beat ourselves.

    As for Tierney, I think that’s very much the face of someone who is in a rush and thinking “if i don’t get these photos taken and paperwork signed in the next 20 minutes i’m going to have to spend another season in Scotland with Neil Lennon and Scott Brown.” Is there a worse experience in football!? 😂😂

  4. LB says:

    Hahaha, good one.

  5. LB says:

    Did anyone else suffer a similar nightmare to me last night.

    Villa were one nil up against Everton with 2 minutes to go, suddenly Iwobi, in the box, spins and squares it to Walcott who is presented with a sitter, Theo, of course fluffs it — and then I wake up screaming.

    Ahhhhhhhhh, that could have still been us.

  6. Sue says:

    Hahaha LB… my dream was of us counting the cash that we’d robbed Everton out of… woke up with a huge grin on my face 😂
    In all fairness though, I do feel for the Evertonians… expecting Walcott & Iwobi to come off the bench and turn the game on it’s head!!! And look at how much they shelled out for them… like you said last night, LB, all we need now is for them to take Mustafi (would they want him again??) and it’d be the perfect hat trick!

  7. Sue says:

    Nice one, FGG… I’m nervous already… pacing up & down… pulling the sofa out ready… wanting to nibble my nails…. need a brown paper bag to blow into…..
    It doesn’t help being told that the scouse fans have said the score will be between 4-0 & 7-1 in their favour….. tw*ts!!! Come on Arsenal!!
    I hope the gooners that have gone up there, have something to cheer about.. as I really feel for them having to sit through that bloody ynwa song & all those teeth….

  8. Marcus says:

    I think the experience of Xaka will come in.

  9. LBG says:

    Marcus
    Hope not!
    COYG.

  10. fatgingergooner says:

    You couldn’t help but look at Iwobi and Walcott last night and see them as a sign that Arsenal are moving forward. It’s such a shame Iwobi hasn’t kicked on but when you consider the likes of Mbappe, Jesus, Rashford, Sterling, Sancho, Martial are all of a similar age to him and then you look at his final ball and finishing, he doesn’t get anywhere close to that bunch. He’s great box to box, but you need an end product to be considered good enough and he doesn’t have it and at 23 you’d expect to be seeing signs of it by now.

  11. Sue says:

    Well, I’m disappointed… Pepe’s nutmeg wasn’t on Soccer AM’s megnuts of the week!!! 😱😱 It was Christian Fuchs!!!

  12. RC78 says:

    Am convinced we will play 352 with

    Leno – Luiz, Sokratis, Monreal – AMN, Torreira, Chambers, Willock, Kola – Laca, Auba

    Only doubt is regarding Torreira and Chambers that could be replaced by Ceballos and Xhaka.

    But I think that having Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Mkhy, RN and Pepe on the bench will help us manage the game

  13. LB says:

    I think you are right on the 352 RC but Torreira and Chambers to start a completely untried combo hmmmmmm, not so sure.

    Xhaka never starts on the bench; my guess is he starts or he is injured.

  14. RC78 says:

    LB, true they have not been tested together so maybe Kola drops to the bench and Chambers play as part of the big three. Xhaka or Guendouzi to play DM

  15. RockyLives says:

    Excellent FGG – I agree with every word and really hope we start with your team.

    But… I don’t think UE will have the courage to do that and I fully expect one of Xhaka/Torreira to start (if not both).

  16. RockyLives says:

    FGG – re Tierney picture: quality comment!

  17. Sue says:

    I just hope the team put on a great display for our travelling fans! It’s a long way to go & after what we’ve witnessed up there, of late, I think we’re due some luck & a result! Here’s to it being a happy journey home for all gooners!
    Also, it’s my Son’s Birthday today, so it’d be great for him also 😊 Come on!!!!

  18. Sue says:

    Pukki’s scored again!! I bet Delia’s loving him right now 😀

  19. RockyLives says:

    LB
    You wondered whether you were more excited than in previous seasons.

    I’ve been wondering the same myself. It’s confusing, because I’ve just moved back to the UK after almost a decade in North America and that could be part of the reason (even though I watched every game while I was away).

    But this season does feel a bit different, perhaps for these reasons:

    It’s been a long time since Arsenal has had a summer transfer window that was generally agreed to have gone well and this has had a confidence-building effect on supporters.

    That transfer window seemed to show our club working in an efficient way at a senior level for the first time in years.

    Our best start to a league season (two games in) for 10 years.

    A sense that we’re clearing out some of the players who have been around for years without ever really convincing (Iwobi, Jenks, Ospina, Lichtsteiner… hopefully Mustafi and Elneny to follow).

    Confidence in our attacking threat (and the fact that we did not lose Auba or Laca in the summer).

    Or of course it could all be the usual blind hope of a new season 🙂

  20. Great pre-match fgg, thank you.

    Having been at The Emirates last weekend the excitement is definitely in the air ……. there is a feeling that this in a new beginning and there are great new players to look forward to watching.

    We’ve had that with Auba and Laca but now we have players to feed them and that’s the exciting part.

    Can’t watch the game as I’m in Sicily for a wedding …….. both kick off at the same time. Planning huh 🙄

  21. RockyLives says:

    A wedding in Sicily, Peaches?

    Will it be like the opening 17 minutes of The Godfather?

  22. LB says:

    Thanks for the reply Rocky, I was wondering why you were commenting so early, hope all is well. Are you back in the Thames Ditton area?

  23. RockyLives says:

    A bit further southwest than that LB – Bath, in Somerset.

  24. Rocky ……. a Godfather like Sicilian wedding? only time will tell, I’m just gonna smile sweetly at every Sicilian I meet 😉

  25. GoonerB says:

    Thanks FGG, I think I have mentioned my preferred line up on more than one occasion so will not go into detail again, but it is practically identical to yours but with Luiz dropping into the Douzi position and Chambers alongside Soc. I just feel the midfield 3 with Luiz at the base looks a bit quicker and more solid and experienced for a game like this, and Luiz, as well as providing more defensive cover, can use his ball distribution to greater effect.

    Also I agree about having a go at them (within reason), and like you see exploiting the space behind the Pool FB’s (both sides) as a potential key weapon. To do this I would instruct both our FB’s to be a bit more defensive early on. Firstly it keeps us harder to break down but secondly it likely draws the Pool FB’s forward, and then you can ask Auba and Pepe to exploit the space behind TAA and Robertson respectively.

    With Willock having the pace and engine to drive up into the box from deep at pace it could be a key weapon, and I feel if we are to play a more tactical and disciplined way while still having a go then drawing them out and using our counter-attacking ability would be the way to play for the first part of the game.

  26. LBG – my boy Cam starting for Stoke v Leeds ……. I’ve given a warning about how he treats Eddie 😉

  27. fred1266 says:

    Still no start for Eddie

  28. fred1266 says:

    No lacazette hmm

  29. Sue says:

    Crystal Palace 😊😊😊

  30. LB says:

    Peaches, Sky go is the way to go, slip outside, watch the game back for the reception, Italy is a football loving nation, they will understand.

  31. LB says:

    Well I am glad my prediction of Mkhitaryan playing was well off.

    ——————Leno

    AMN——Big Sok——-Luiz——Monreal

    ———-Guen————–Xhaka

    Pepe,———–Willock————Ceballos

    ——————Aubamayang.

    This is my guess at how this is going to be set out, any other suggestions?

  32. fred1266 says:

    Zaha get assist for winning goal sue

  33. fred1266 says:

    4312 pepe and PEA striking

  34. Sue says:

    Good old Wilf, Fred 👍

  35. LB says:

    fred1266 says: August 20, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    LB can u please clarify what you mean they wouldn’t be the startling front 2

    ——————————————————————-

    LB says: August 20, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    ————Aubamayang——-Pepe

    Someone, Someone, Someone, Someone

    Someone, Someone, Someone, Someone

    ————————-Leno

    Aint going to happen.

  36. LB says:

    Just call me the Oracle from now on lol

  37. RockyLives says:

    Well, we’re one down but that was not a discouraging half.

    Our insistence on playing the ball out from the back is probably admirable but you wonder how sensible it is when it means we are starting our moves from our own corner flags.

  38. LB says:

    Well, no can moan about UE not being adventurous with his team selection.

    Although, I want Torreira out there for Ceballos in the second half.

  39. Gööner In Exile says:

    Ok so half time it’s only 1-0. Now it’s time to release the sides potential. There is something not right about having a front 3 of Pepe, Auba and Laca and only using two of them at Anfield. Playing on counter was always going to be risky strategy, for that to be effective you really have to back the defence to keep clean sheets and we are not there yet.

    The defending for the goal was abysmal, has Sokratis not realised he can’t get away with shirt tugs in VAR era? If he’d been focusing on ball maybe he’d actually have got off the ground?

    So second half, one of Xhaka, Guendouzzi or Willock off and Laca on.

    Let them attack with full backs with those three staying on halfway line. They won’t and at least if they do we have one more out ball and more players close to the action that may be able to support.

    Having said that we should have been in the lead from PEA or Pepe chances. Albeit so could Pool when Ceballos squared to them.

    Finally let’s stop this ridiculous goalkick routine we are inviting them to press.

  40. Gööner In Exile says:

    Luiz hasn’t realised either!?!?!

    Come on Leno

  41. GoonerB says:

    Emery really needs to change this formation now. We haven’t been dreadful but we could be better as well.

    Agree with GIE we need the extra striker. Again for me the Douzi / Xhaka partnership doesnt work.

  42. GoonerB says:

    And as I write………….

  43. fred1266 says:

    All arsenal goal today, today came from defensive errors

  44. fred1266 says:

    Now he wants to attack, was hoping he did from 60-70th minute

  45. Sue says:

    It’s painful, Fred.. it really is….

  46. Gööner In Exile says:

    Fred very apt comment and I do feel for youngsters sent out alongside experienced players who they are supposed to be learning from but the habits will be bad ones.

    Personally I’d rather we went down swinging, chasing the ball around for 90 minutes in your own half is not fun, when you do win it you haven’t got the legs to do anything, especially not if we are going to piss around with it at the back in our own box.

    Liverpool don’t have to expend as much energy because they get the ball in our half and press there and then when they lose, they only have to run ten yards.. We needed a quick outlet ball and then repay the favour, but we didn’t drag team up pitch so when Auba or Pepe lost ball it was back to defending very quickly.

    Shape looked better with Torreira but I have a real problem with this over structured in possession stuff where everyone has a predefined position and the ball follows a couple of routes.

    Don’t get me wrong phase of play does have some place in football coaching but personally I think at the top end it’s more about how you win the ball back rather than when you have ball. After all why spend fortunes on star players and then ask them to rein in that creativity, natural ability to find space.

  47. fred1266 says:

    I personally didn’t mind the tactic but lacazette should have been involved from start imo pepe and Pea were to isolate having an extra attacking body might have had help but at 1-0 we really had a chance unsure what luiz was thinking both times being afraid to make the player I swear for the third goal he jumps out of salahs way

  48. LBG says:

    Not inclined to agree with the tactical criticism of two forwards playing close to each other.
    As far as we were concerned I would have preferred the four across the middle to have played in a line, and not in a diamond.Fullbacks were always going to love the space and, rarely the delivery was poor. We could have conceded three at least in the first half with better delivery.
    Failure to convert our two chances then rubs that situation in still further.
    In conclusion the dynamic 15 mins after half time blew us away and showed how far their intensity and experience puts them above us at present.

  49. RockyLives says:

    We were beaten by a better team but there are grounds for optimism in that performance.

  50. fred1266 says:

    I agree I will take the positives, hope chambers gets back his starting spot

  51. Rasp says:

    Hi guys, I’ve just got in from cricket and been reading through the comments.

    We’re still a work in progress and have a manager (head coach really) who is juggling players and formations .. too much?

    Does anyone want to write a line or two or just provide some player ratings?

  52. RC78 says:

    I think one can see what Emery meant when he was talking bout Douzi earlier this week – the guy has talent and potential but there is still room for growth physically, mentally, technically and tactically. He had many touches, no key passes, get beaten by Matip for the first goal. A game that he should look at again to improve and grow as a player.

    I thought that Emery got his tactics wrong today and I am afraid that our lack of real DM was very apparent today. We also saw the wrong face of D. Luiz as well. We were definitely second best throughout the game although we had some good chances in the first half through Pepe and I thought that Willock had a good game. Here is a rating…

    Leno – 5 = did OK, did nothing wrong nor anything great. Goes home with 3 in his nets.

    AMN – 4 = totally exposed in the first half especially but full of determination. He d give us more as a WB.
    Sokratis – 5 = our best defender tonight but again, not a great performance.
    Luiz – 4. Gave away two goals and his long balls did not really catch Liverpool out. Not at his best and his defensive frailties were flagrant tonight. He is at his best in a back 3.
    Monreal – 5 = The usual Monreal. Worked hard. Didn’t bring anything going forward and tried to keep his left side safe.

    Guendouzi – 3 = See above. Lots of time on the ball, a tackle or two but felt again like he was running like a headless chicken. Lots of ground covered but no real effectiveness and gets beaten for the first goal WAY too easily.
    Xhaka – 4 = A Xhakaesque performance. Slow, lots of passes, no movement going forward, leaving his CBs exposed way too much as always but fighting hard and showing determination.
    Willock – 5.5 – Our best midfielder today. Tried and showed great determination.
    Ceballos – 4 = After his impressive debut, he was largely anonymous today. A match to forget.

    Pepe – 6 = Our best forward. Full of running and caused plenty of problems. Had a good chance to put us forward before Liverpool scored. Very promising first start.
    Auba – 5 = Tried but with no luck today as the opposition didn’t give him much. He had a good chance early on but overall, a game that he needs to forget.

    Subs – Torreira and Lacazette injected some physicality and verticality to our game and Torreira scored. Mkhy had no time to make an impact.

    Emery – 3. His idea was to let Liverpool come through the wings especially with their FBs and let them cross but he wanted to keep things tight in the middle of our defense and middle of the park. We would then proceed by counter-attacking with direct balls on the left with Auba or on the right with Pepe. We played deep and hoped to absorb Liverpool pressure and beat their press with our long balls. The plan kindda made sense but failed especially once we conceded the first goal. The first 15 mins of each half we were totally rolled over by LFC. I thought a 352 would have been more effective. Also we can see that we tend to operate better wiith Lacazette in the squad.

    Back to you and let us keep hope. LFC will contend to win the EPL and we re fighting for Top 6 finish. Willock and Pepe s performances were very encouraging and was nice to see Torreira back on the scoresheet.

  53. fred1266 says:

    U surely not blaming douzi for tips goal, I saw it differently sokratis was studying to hold VVD than actually defend

  54. LBG says:

    Very surprised at the implication that Ouzi was the weak link, especially given the semi insistence during the week that the “experienced” Xhaka should play – and was his almost normal self, without any creativity( or significant error, admittedly). Ouzi marking Matip at a corner!!!? Ridiculous even if he hadn’t been the meat in a Sokratis/VVD sandwich.
    I hope Dick never again plays three at the back!! Chambers should have played alongside Sokratis with Daviid in front to offer some of the creativity not offered by Xhaka, while still preventing the Liverpool one twos on the edge of the box. Ouzi and Willock could have pushed out more often to fullbacks and to start with I would have played Dani centrally.
    All a matter of opinion of course.
    .

  55. fred1266 says:

    We didn’t play 3 at the back was a back four and diamond in midfield apparently

  56. RC78 says:

    Rasp – your work is cut out for tomorrow 😉 you can copy and paste my comment with the ratings and the replies from our fellow bloggers and make it into a post?

  57. fred1266 says:

    Mostly like I would send one for tomorrow

  58. fatgingergooner says:

    So just watched the game as I’ve been at Yorkshire Wildlife Park all day. I already knew the result so was able to watch without emotion which I find makes it far easier to assess. Here’s my thoughts for what they’re worth.

    Every side that goes to Anfield this season will get a battering in the first 10 minutes as that’s how Liverpool play. They pressed straight into us and got after us from the whistle. It’s difficylt to say what can be done about that but what I would say is that after surviving those first 10, I thought the next 20 were very good from Arsenal and we found a way into the game.

    The first goal is always key in these games. If Pepe had scored when through then this could’ve been a different story, but to concede just before and just after half time will kill any side. It’s even worse when you gift them the goals.

    I thought our shape was actually ok. We played a diamond with Ceballos at the point and Xhaka deep. Yes, we were very narrow and allowed their full backs space, but actually they didn’t test Leno really from the crosses that came in and it was other parts of our overall play that cost us.

    Pepe was fantastic and if you don’t get excited watching him and Auba linking together then I don’t know what to say. I really hope we see the trio soon with Lacazette coming in to see what we can really do. His finishing needs work but his running and eye for pass were on show again.

    I hate to say ‘I told you so’ but it was a corner that proved our downfall. No excuses really. Poor marking and good delivery will always result in goals conceded.

    David Luiz…..the way I see him is as a player who will give you 7/10 for 32 games a season and you’ll barely mention his name, but then he’ll give you 2/10 for 6 games a season and that’s all you remember him for. No doubt he was at fault today although I will add that I think Monreal is experienced enough to know that clipping Salahs heel on the edge of the box and getting a yellow is the right thing to do in the build up to their 3rd goal. Just be nasty for once in your life!!!

    Willock was outstanding and looks every bit a new star in our midfield and exactly what we need. What’s not to love about his energy, composure and ability. Love him.

    Geundouzi’s energy was also a joy but he lacks a bit of refinement. Hopefully that will come with experience and I think his and Willock energy just takes a bit of pressure off Xhaka. Before the first goal I actually thought the midfield 3 were giving us good protection and we looked pretty good until that Pepe miss and set piece lapse in concentration.

    Ceballos was every bit bad as he was good last week. I said last week he reminded me of Cazorla but until he puts in more performances like Burnley I couldn’t trust him like I did Cazorla as he seems to have a mistake in him. Well I wasn’t wrong and we certainly saw the worst of him today. It wasn’t a lack of effort, but it was just too fast for him today and he couldn’t get going.

    I said it last week and I’ll say it again, we must continue playing out from the back. This will be arguable the hardest ground to do it at this season so I’m not going to dismiss it based on today. City are fantastic at it and the reason why is because teams are scared of them and don’t want to press onto them. They have an aura that we don’t have right now and it will take a season of winning lots of games and punishing teams before we can have the same sort of image. As the results get better, playing out from the back will become easier.

    I loved that our heads didn’t drop and at no point did I feel like I was watching one of Wengers sides getting a battering at Anfield. The effort was there, at times the quality was there, but Liverpool are just further along than we are right now and have better players at peak confidence and form. In the past I’d be happy to sit here ripping into players, but I don’t feel they deserve that and for the first time in a while I actually like our players and want them to succeed.

  59. LBG says:

    Fred
    Of course we didn’t play three at the back today, and my hope is we dont in the future as I dont want Luiz to play in that defensive system. Sorry to confuse you.

  60. fred1266 says:

    LBG as I mentioned above I hope chambers regains his starting position

    Let luiz play in league cup

  61. Rasp says:

    Morning all …

    … New post ….

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