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Deadline Thoughts + Liverpool Match Review

Morning to you all, after a dreary deadline day. I’m seriously disappointed in our lack of activity yesterday, but you had to see this coming in the back of your mind. Really, what we saw last year was the result of the wrong things happening at the wrong time. Forever will Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun be classified as “panic buys” , and rightly so. Suffering one of the worst defeats in the history of your club can surely kick up quite the dust cloud. I privately feared that what Arsène pulled off last year was a one-time deal, and it turns out that I was right. Only after he gets slapped across the face does the boss choose to react. In his view, our starting lineup is strong due to our three new additions to the squad, therefore bringing in more players isn’t economical, considering our bottomless pit filled with youth players looking to break through the ranks. It’s a risky tactic that has backfired in the past, but ultimately what as fans can we do? The answer is simple: forget the past and support your team, that’s our only job and we can do it well. I really wish we’d at least picked up players as much as the next person, but we’ll just have to pick up and look forward to pounding the Mugsmashers on Sunday.
Every point we can squeeze out of the next month is vital, as our upcoming fixtures could reveal our title ambitions well before the new year. How we cope with the big games and grow as a team is vital to success, and it’s important that morale stays sky-high. A win tomorrow would be the perfect way to kick things off and create a happy atmosphere around the camp. We’ve got Chelsea, City, and the Champion’s League to worry about in the coming weeks, so winning this match will take the pressure off later.

Team News

Koscielny: Fit to play
Szczesny – Ribs: Faces late fitness test
Wilshere – Ankle: Fitness training
Sagna – Leg: Fitness Training
Fabianski – Back
Rosicky – Tendon
Frimpong – Knee

With our squad continually on the mend, this week we welcome Laurent Koscielny back into the fold. I have a gut feeling that he was 95% fit for Stoke, but Wenger having learned his lesson, withdrew him from the squad so he had ample time to recover before his return. Here’s my desired -not predicted- lineup to face the Reds.

We’ll need Koscielny in order to cope with Liverpool’s fairly revamped attack now featuring Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Suarez take to the wings along with Sterling to allow Borini space in the middle. This is where the pace of our back line comes into effect. Jenkinson and Gibbs will have their hands full the entire match with two strong, with two tricky forwards to mark and the obligation of blocking crosses/shots will be a great benchmark to see how they’ve improved under Steve Bould in such a short space of time. One thing we really have to emulate across the back four is Mertesacker’s composure and reading abilities. We know Luis Suarez will go down harder and faster than a sack of potatoes with even the slightest hint of contact, and Raheem Sterling’s slight frame means the same goes for him. We have to be very careful with rash challenges, ask Eboue. We’ll have to be coordinated and strong, but not rough.That said, we’re not there to sit back and defend for 90 minutes. We need this win, considering we’ve only got 2 out of 6 possible points.

We’ve been dealt a strong hand when it comes to what Liverpool have in their squad to put up against us. With Lucas Leiva injured and Charlie Adam off to Stoke, it’s up to old head Steven Gerrard and new boy Nuri Sahin to command the middle for the Reds. With “King Kenny” being replaced by Brendan Rodgers, we can expect Liverpool to play with a more freely flowing attack than we’re used to, although they may seem lost in the middle until Gerrard and Sahin can strike up a decent partnership. Rewind to last season’s 2-1 win over them and you’ll probably remember 10 men playing behind the ball for most of the match. Rodgers doesn’t play like that. Instead, the new-era manager prefers a team who can keep possession for long periods of time, and wait for the right opening to launch a devastating attack. This style of play exposes their defence to counter attacks, which is exactly what suits us. We’ll have many more chances to penetrate their back line by spraying passes out wide, or playing Giroud through the middle on a quick break.

We can’t congest the midfield like we did against Stoke, that simply won’t work. Wing play is crucial here, especially with Giroud up front and raring to score. His power in the air combined with his passing ability on the ground makes him a nightmare for the off-form Martin Skrtel, and our wingers, Cazorla in particular, are capable of crossing the balls in dangerous areas. We need to make good use of the flanks, and bring the fullbacks into the play as much as possible to force Liverpool’s defence out of position.

Our midfield will have to be at the top of their game to take full advantage of Liverpool’s weaknesses in the centre of the pitch. My suggested combination of the Ox’s flair, Diaby’s physical presence, and Arteta’s defensive discipline and creativity will give us a balanced midfield to go out with. Having Cazorla on the left wing could prove to be effective, as last season he averaged almost 2 accurate crosses each game, and his ambidexterity could prove useful cutting inside, our taking the ball to the byline before crossing it in on his left foot.

Feed Giroud and he will score. The key is to make his job simple: bully the defence, get in the box for a cross, or take a shot. He shouldn’t have to be a playmaker, that’s never been his purpose in the game. While he’s a decent passer, his strengths shine inside the 18 year box, and for him to use those strengths we need to keep him in there as much as possible.

That’s it until tomorrow, where any last-minute news will be covered, and an in-depth match review will be released the morning after the match.

Till next time.

Anders

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