15 February 2014

Liverpool at Arsenal 02.16.14

11am ET, live in the US on Fox Sports 2

Last four head-to-head:
5-1 Arsenal (h) 02.08.14
0-2 Arsenal (a) 11.02.13
2-2 (a) 01.30.13
0-2 Arsenal (h) 09.02.12

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-2 Fulham (a); 5-1 Arsenal (h); 1-1 West Brom (a)
Arsenal: 0-0 United (h); 1-5 Liverpool (a); 2-0 Palace (h)

Goalscorers (all competitions):
Liverpool: Suarez 23; Sturridge 19; Gerrard 7; Sterling 6; Skrtel 4; Coutinho 3; Henderson, Moses 2; Agger, Aspas, Flanagan, Sakho 1
Arsenal: Giroud 14; Ramsey 13; Cazorla, Walcott 6; Özil, Podolski, Wilshere 5; Arteta, Bendtner, Mertesacker, Oxlade-Chamberlain 2; Eisfeld, Flamini, Gibbs, Gnabry, Rosicky, Sagna 1

Referee: Howard Webb

Guess at a line-up:
Flanagan Skrtel Agger Cissokho
Coutinho Allen
Sterling Suarez Sturridge

Oh, hey, I remember Arsenal.

Rodgers remembers Arsenal, declaring that he'll start a full-strength squad. With a week until Liverpool's next match, I guess that makes sense.

This seemingly means that Liverpool will change three players at most from the XI which has started the last four matches. It's too soon for Glen Johnson, but Agger will come in for Kolo Toure. Brad Jones has started both previous FA Cup ties. And Allen, healthy again, could replace either Henderson or Coutinho, the former seemingly more likely as he's dealing with a fractured wrist. Otherwise, Suarez, Sturridge, Gerrard, Sterling, Skrtel. All again. Almost certainly.

I'm sure Arsenal remembers Liverpool as well. And Arsenal at the Emirates are a much different prospect than Arsenal at Anfield, at least this season. But most of this is due to Liverpool's home form, a vastly superior side in front of its own fans. In theory, Liverpool's desire to press and play on the counter-attack fits into facing a top side away from home. As it did against Tottenham. But not so much against Chelsea or City. And kind of, sort at Everton, scoring three, but also conceding three. As usual, it'll depend on both Liverpool's ability to take an early lead and finish its chances, and then not making any soul-killing mistakes at the back.

Arsenal seem more likely to make changes than Liverpool, due to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League midweek, but like Liverpool, there probably won't be all that many. At the least, Fabianski's started both FA Cup ties so far, while I suspect Özil will be dropped after his last experience against Liverpool. Giroud and Wilshere also both seem candidates for rest with the midweek tie looming. Flamini is now back from suspension, but Cazorla has picked up an injury, and Walcott, Ramsey, Vermaelen, Källström, and Diaby are still out. Which means their XI will probably look something like Fabianski; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini, Arteta; Gnabry, Rosicky, Podolski; Bendtner. Which is still quite a decent side, a side that's assuredly capable of punishing Liverpool.

I'll be honest. I couldn't give a toss about the FA Cup. All that matters this season is the league; the domestic cups seem an unwanted distraction. But Rodgers apparently doesn't feel that way, and the players probably don't feel that way. Momentum and confidence may be intangible, unprovable concepts, but Liverpool will want to ensure that they maintain both.

Liverpool will want to prove that last weekend wasn't an aberration. Arsenal will want to prove that it was.


Anonymous said...

It's hard to get excited for these Cup matches this season with so much at stake in the league. I guess one Cup match a month if we win is not too many added games to impact our league preparations. 6th round would be March 8, semis April 12/13 and final May 17.

Emirates is going to be a much different proposition than Anfield, of course. Curious to see how the crowd reacts to Wenger and The Arse after that 5-1 demolition. No Ramsey and probably no Ozil, so that's good. I guess Jack Ass sits too. WE should have a very good shot at a win.

Mou needs to get his ass kicked by Pellegrini too. It's time for that Karma to come back to him. Shouldn't have to wait 2 years like at Madrid. 275 mil quid in net transfer spending at Chelsea over the last 4 years. City's is lower at 268 mil. Mou knows how to buy success. It's always been much more about the money where Mou is concerned. Regardless of what he says.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the FA Cup is relatively meaningless, look at King Kenny who won us the league cup and a final at the FA Cup and still got sacked. I'm worried that Brendan doesn't trust the so called B team guys on the fringe of the squad hence his statements of only buying players for the first team. Still unhappy on spending so much money on players who don't get playing time though.

Vercingetora said...

I had the same feeling about the FA Cup, but after reading Rodgers comments in the link above, I was sold.

I think out training staff knows how much rest our squad needs. Rodgers is making decisions based on more information we have.

There is also an heroic element to Rodgers' comments that I think will inspire the team. If he's successful, he will become a legend. If not, some may say he sought a bridge too far; I'd say heroism isn't defined by victory.