The real tests are coming up by Konstantin Mitov
Hello lovely Arsenal people! We’re second in the league on goal difference to Liverpool, we’re also the only other team to win all our games from the start (with Liverpool) and we’re playing them in a top of the table clash next weekend! Now there’s a way to present facts in a totally out of context way!
Just two games of the season have passed, and the opposition we’ve played has been largely favourable for us. We’ve won all our league games against Burnley since they returned to the elite and we’ve won something like 10 out of 11 games vs Newcastle. Our last 2 visits to Anfield have seen us ship 9 goals. See how with a bit of perspective the next game appears much harder.
Even Unai Emery tried to banter about it by saying “we don’t want to play Liverpool ever”. But in every joke, there’s a bit of truth and here it’s the whole truth. We don’t want to play them. I’m not particularly excited about another potential drubbing, and it’s what I hope we avoid. When I look at the two teams there are some similarities though.
Both are super strong in attack and both’s weakness is the defence. Norwich and Southampton created a lot of chances against Liverpool and both games could’ve gone differently had they gone in. Chelsea too managed to find the net against Liverpool, so even though they’ve got Van Dijk, there are still problems there and the fact they are missing Alisson is another boost for us.
That said, our defence isn’t a bed of roses either. We’re still missing our main full backs and Luis and Sokratis could struggle with the pace of Mane, Firminho and Salah. I think we should try to be as solid as we can at the back and hope on our pace on the counter to hurt them. Going there trying to impose our game and playing out of the back could backfire, as we couldn’t really do it against the likes of Newcastle and Burnley.
What would be our starting 11? Do we trust Willock and Nelson again or do we go for the big guns with bringing in Pepe from the start? Playing the youngsters was exciting and did the job for the first two games, but it’s an entirely different beast we’re facing next. There’s a question about central midfield too.
Guendouzi was solid in his first two appearances, but with Ceballos impressing and Torreira returning I’m struggling to pick who starts. My guess is we might return to Xhaka and Torreira to solidify our back line and Ceballos in the number 10 spot. I don’t see Ozil starting such an important away game.
We’ll probably have Pepe on the bench once more, to have him as a weapon in the second half, when legs get tired. But ’til then we have to survive the pressure. If we keep it tight and don’t concede stupid goals, we can frustrate them and then hit on the break! Maybe I’m dreaming too much to hope for a point at least from the game, but avoiding a huge beatdown is an absolute must.
Hope the boys believe in themselves and are up for a fight, because the real tests start now.