Arsenal face two pivotal home clashes in April, first of which is against Liverpool this Saturday afternoon. The Gunners were absolutely irrepressible during March, when they won all their games that saw them remain in 3rd place on the Barclays Premier League table and progress to the semi-finals of this season’s FA Cup after trouncing Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Three of their four Premier League opponents were from the bottom half of the table, and Arsene Wenger’s men weren’t challenged in any of their games, except against Newcastle United who were unfortunate to not even recover a point after producing a stunning second half display. Going into this Saturday’s home game against Brendan Rodgers’ side, what do Arsenal need to do to win all three points and move up to second place, at least until Man City play on Monday?
It has been invigorating to see Wenger become more flexible in his approach when setting his side up for these big games over the course of this season. Arsenal have sat back more than they used to in previous seasons and, fortunately for them, it has paid dividends on a couple of occasions. Against Liverpool at the Emirates, however, the North Londoners need to start the game on the front foot and grab the early initiative against their opponents who are handicapped with a whole lot of injuries and not coming into this game in the best of shape. Wenger’s wizards, if they start the game well, can alter any tactical plans Rodgers may have up his sleeve.
Before the international break, Manchester United travelled to Anfield and seamlessly pocketed all three points against an in-form Liverpool side. They found plenty of joy on the Merseysiders’ left-hand-side, where Alberto Moreno had an absolute nightmare and Juan Mata scored two cracking goals to win all three points for his side. With Rodgers favoring the 3-4-3 or the 3-4-2-1 system, Arsenal ought to test this Saturday’s visitors on both the wing-back positions. Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck, with their pace and power, have the necessary ammunition to make openings for Arsenal from wider areas on the pitch.
When it comes to pace and movement, there are very few Premier League clubs that can play with the flair that Liverpool do. In the current Scousers’ setup, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, two players who will be crucial to the visitors’ chances of winning this Saturday’s game, can cause all sorts of problems for their opponents, with their trickery, movement and rapid pace to go past defenders. Francis Coquelin will have his work cut out and need to have a good game if Arsenal are to win this fixture. In the midfield areas, the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Santiago Cazorla and Mesut Ozil need to help Coquelin out whenever the likes of Coutinho and Jordan Henderson get on the ball and look to drive at the heart of the Arsenal rearguard.
Arsenal vs Liverpool is always one of the most anticipated clashes during a Premier League season. From this Saturday’s point of view, it would be naïve of the Gunners to sit back and rely heavily on the counterattack against an injury-hit Liverpool side. Starting on the front foot and scoring that first goal, has to be the No.1 priority for Wenger’s men.
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