If we beat Liverpool at Anfield tonight it won’t put us back in the title race because we were never out of it in the first place.
Since our boys lost to Chelsea and fell 11 points behind the league leaders they have collected one point from the last two games. A week ago they lost their third game of the season away to Manchester City and last night they drew 3-3 with 15th place Everton. Arsene Wenger said following our loss to Chelsea that the Blues would drop points and just a week later he has been proved right.
Meanwhile Manchester United also lost their third game of the season and first at home, falling 1-0 to Aston Villa at Old Trafford. We sit just six points behind last year’s champions but with two games in hand and a superior goal difference, that gap could close very quickly. Villa, meanwhile, have snuck into third place on the table off the back of an impressive run of results.
The complexion of the Arsenal v Liverpool game has changed off the back of last night’s result. At the start of the weekend Arsene Wenger and his men would have expected Chelsea and Manchester United to take maximum points at home and had they done so the goal would have been for Arsenal to keep pace with the leaders by matching their results.
The advantage is that instead of still desperately needing a win to stay in touch with Chelsea and United, yesterday’s results will mean that a draw at Anfield will be viewed as a positive result. Not that we can’t win it of course.
Our problem going into the Liverpool game remains a lack of power in the front three although that could given a boost by the return of Abou Diaby. It remains to be seen whether the Frenchman is fully match-fit but I’d be tempted to throw him in as an auxiliary centre-forward with Robin van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner and Eduardo all out and height a scarce commodity.
Other options are Andrey Arshavin who scored four goals in this fixture last season, Theo Walcott, Carlos Vela, Samir Nasri or Emmanuel Eboue. How Wenger balances these options will largely determine whether we can get the goals we need to win.
Further afield our options are good. Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song and Denilson should start in Wenger’s ideal midfield setup while the back five of Manuel Almunia, Bacary Sagna, William Gallas, Thomas Vermaelen and Armand Traore have played the past few games together. Vermaelen and Gallas are much more suited to combating the Fernando Torres’ of the world than the Didier Drogbas while it will be interesting to see the performance of Denilson as he takes on the role of shadowing Steven Gerrard.
It feels like forever since we won at Anfield and I would absolutely love to see that change today. We’re not as strong as we could be up front, yet that shouldn’t prevent our first-choice midfield from dominating the game as they have done so many times in the past. Likewise defensively we look strong and there’s nothing to suggest that we can’t come away from Liverpool with at least a point.
Anything more would be a most welcome bonus but whatever the result, we’ll still be in the title race.
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