The last hurrah or a step towards greatness for this Arsenal side? We’ll soon find out.

The last hurrah or a step towards greatness for this Arsenal side? We’ll soon find out.

Today’s Champions League game against Liverpool at Anfield is the be all and end all for Arsenal’s season as far as I’m concerned. Should they succeed then Arsene Wenger’s side will be just three games away from being crowned Champions of Europe, should they fail then the season is finally over and the silverware cabinet will be empty for the fourth season running.

The players must realise this and respond accordingly. It’s clear that there have been some tired legs running around on the pitch of late and guys like Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini have been worked well beyond their call of duty. But if the boys are too avoid the possibility of ending the season without a trophy then they are going to have to ignore the aches and pains in their bodies and give it absolutely everything against Liverpool tonight.

The creative burden should rest with the fresher Hleb then a tired FabregasTactics will play their part for sure, but the single most important factor in determining whether or not Arsenal succeed tonight will be the physical and mental effort that the players put in. Winning the Champions League has to be the main focus now and the manager must make that clear to his team tonight. The players need to forget completely about the trip to Old Trafford on Sunday and they must absolutely run themselves into the ground. Anything less will mean failure.

Should the players hold up their end of the bargain then the rest will be down to how Wenger gets his side playing. The tie is on a knife-edge after Liverpool’s away goal and I feel the manager will have to get his balance between attacking and defending just right to get the required result.

In my opinion the best way for him to do this is to counter the typical five-man Liverpool midfield with a five-man midfield of his own and utilising his freshest players as the primary attackers. That means draughting Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby into the starting line-up as the two wingers and using Alexandr Hleb as a floating support behind lone striker Emmanuel Adebayor. The fact that Wenger rested both the Belarussian and the Togolese forward on Saturday suggests to me that this is the way he will play and I’ll be crossing my fingers and toes that it is.

Some people may point to Robin van Persie’s return from injury and say that he has to start but I think that it would be best to hold the Dutchman back until the need for a goal becomes pressing. The same can be said of Nicklas Bendtner who has done quite well each of the three times he has featured against Liverpool. Indeed, Wenger should be instructing Adebayor to work Liverpool’s central-defensive pairing from pillar to post in an attempt to open up the game before introducing either van Persie or Bendtner. Considering that the game could go for up to two hours, this might not be the worst idea.

Effort and tactics aside, the thing that Arsenal absolutely must do tonight is take their chances when they come. Over the past three meetings against Liverpool Wenger’s team have largely been the more impressive side and have created enough chances to win all three games. Yet, as Bendtner has pointed out, had Arsenal taken the chances they created then the results would have been different.

If Wenger gets his tactics right and the players give it everything they’ve got and take their chances then Arsenal will get past Liverpool tonight. It sounds like a lot to ask – and maybe it is – but I have every confidence in this side to put in one final effort and get the result they require. I usually go for a prediction of some sort for every Arsenal game but it’s really not worth it this time around.

As I said, I am confident of the boys doing the job, but they really have to be at the top of their game if they want to succeed tonight. Let’s hope they can do it. Come on Arsenal!

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal v Liverpool III by leaving a comment.

25 Responses to “The last hurrah or a step towards greatness for this Arsenal side? We’ll soon find out.”

  1. Keysyj
    April 8, 2008 at 10:54 pm #

    At least this time you won’t be as wasted as the weekend, and might actually remember something from the night, hey Spanish Fry?

  2. Keysyj
    April 8, 2008 at 10:55 pm #

    At least this time you won’t be as wasted as you were on the weekend, and might actually remember something from the night, hey Spanish Fry?

  3. Spanish Fry
    April 8, 2008 at 10:55 pm #

    Let’s hope you’re right buddy heh heh. Where will you be watching it Keysy?

  4. Michael
    April 8, 2008 at 10:59 pm #

    I agree we can do it. Still holding on for the double too. Although I know this is where the focus needs to be. We need to leave it on the field tonight. We’ll worry about Sunday in a couple days. We did Milan in Milan, bring on the KOP!

    Come on you Gunners!

  5. Frichie
    April 8, 2008 at 11:12 pm #

    One of the things that has pissed me off up until Sat was, even after Brum, Middlesborough, when the team couldnt stop drawing, WHY OH WHY didnt Wenger mix up his starting line up, surely at that stage he should have maybe rester Flamini, or Cesc on alternate Match days, Give clichy a rest, Hleb a rest. Not only would our players be all fresher for these massive 6 days, but other players would have put in much better performances (tryint to impress) and could have turned it around. Instead he decides to mix it up on Sat and it backfired. Anyways, we can still do Liverpool I have faith, and ManU can also be beaten

  6. Spanish Fry
    April 8, 2008 at 11:16 pm #

    You make a good point about the rotation Frichie – Wenger definitely could have made some changes in those games to freshen things up. But what’s done is done and we can only look forward now. Let’s hope – as you say – we can beat Liverpool tomorrow and then United on the weekend.

  7. El Tommo
    April 8, 2008 at 11:20 pm #

    Dreaming about the double? Wake up and smell the BS … for us to win the double would take a miracle – forget it! We’ll have a great night tonight of course and I hope the guys make us proud to be Arsenal fans – we need to be quick, decisive, direct and clinical – qualities we demonstrated we had in abundance earlier in the season [and v AC Milan, obv] but recently our game has suffered from a lack of width, predictable patterns of play and a failure to finish in crucial moments of games. If we can put it right tonight we can go through.

    I have a worrying feeling Wenger will use the ‘luvvie’ Eboue at wide right instead of starting with Theo. I expect the lineup suggested above with subs of Bendtner, Walcott and RvP to arrive with 30-odd minutes remaining. The task before that will be to run them ragged with our superior passing and movement and turn their little legs to wobbly jelly.

  8. Michael
    April 8, 2008 at 11:27 pm #

    I agree the double is far beyond our control, but stranger things have happened. I said this is where the focus needs to be. I think starting Eboue will be another poor choice by Wenger. Walcott needs the start. Bring Eboue after we have the lead with little time to go.

  9. Nik
    April 8, 2008 at 11:58 pm #

    Spanish fry… I do agree with you on the line up but whether AW will tow that line is another issue.

    On what Bendtner said, it’s simply common sense. If he wasn’t on the “wrong” line in the 1st leg, the picture would have been different by now. I think he has the chance to “redeem” himself tonight or else he can be loaned out to wherever.I fear he would still be at the emirates next season with Wenger saying recently that he would be better next season.

    Eboue is clueless, since Sagna came in moving him forward proved to be a bad idea.

    Nevertheless, I’m still positive about tonight.

    Manyoo is another game for another day…

  10. William
    April 9, 2008 at 12:17 am #

    Is it because Theo’s English that the fans pine for him to play? I still dont think hes ready to start a game, i think hes far more effective coming off the bench, surely the two games against liverpool have shown that? What disturbs me though is the fact that eboue is usually Arsenes favoured right midfielder. I think we should start Diaby on the right, play Hleb on the left and whether hes 90% fit or not, start RVP. I feel in the biggest games, the quality of his set piece delivery is so important. If it doesnt work, or hes not at his best at least we can bring theo on…

  11. casicky
    April 9, 2008 at 12:29 am #

    i feel Wenger will go with Ebzzzz and i know most of you know that and i feel he jus holds his width and occasionally does his defensive duities his worst will jus be enuff and then later on have Walcott running at them we need to have a plan B up our sleeves coz i feel if we jus start with all of them esp Walcott then we run up against a brick wall and then jus start punting helplessly and that never gets us anywhere.

    um actually quite optimistic each time we get set-pieces and i dont remember the last time that was anyway i hope we do it an early slip up from the scousers resulting in a goal will be great

    …i dont know whether i want us to be chasing a game and try and score later or score early and defend i dont feel confident bout a KOP siege later on but we are ARSENAL so lets do it..

  12. Michael
    April 9, 2008 at 12:36 am #

    The only reason I say start Wallcott, is because he has actually contributed goals and assists this season. Eboue makes poor passes, poor attacks (which usually end up with him taking a dive), poor crosses and has the most horrific shot. If his pace is close to Theo’s, then bring him in like we have been doing Theo. Toward the end of the game. Theo is not the greatest on the wing, but his improvement this season has been evident, and he, in my opinion, is the better option.

  13. Josh 5111960
    April 9, 2008 at 1:05 am #

    Almunia
    Toure-Senderos-Gallas
    Hleb-Flamini-Fabregas-Diaby
    Adebayor-Van Persie
    Subs:Lehmann-Bendtner-Walcott-Song-Hoyte-Gilberto-Eboue
    Liverpool 2-Arsenal 3
    Love it

  14. Nik
    April 9, 2008 at 1:32 am #

    @Josh 5111960,
    You’ve only got 3 at the back…

  15. Nik
    April 9, 2008 at 1:33 am #

    @Josh 5111960,
    You’ve only got 3 at the back…
    I thot of a 3-2 victory too….maybe its just a dream..:-)

  16. tunde
    April 9, 2008 at 4:00 am #

    i sincerely parst that we do it this night! Amen!

  17. tunde
    April 9, 2008 at 4:04 am #

    Our Father,
    who art in heaven, halo be thy name, thy kingdom come , thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us! and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil!For thy is the kingdom the power and the glory forever and ever Amen!
    Come on ARSENAL! PS: every fan should belive!

  18. Mexican Gunner
    April 9, 2008 at 6:57 am #

    I start to believe in Senderos but again he was a mess
    Van Persie is unrecognizable
    and how many times Wenger have to see Eboue to choose WALCOTT…
    Im a mix betwen sad and angry!!

  19. Nighthawk4900
    April 9, 2008 at 7:29 am #

    i think im going to cry….

  20. Mexican Gunner
    April 9, 2008 at 7:34 am #

    youre not alone

  21. Spanish Fry
    April 9, 2008 at 7:36 am #

    That was just unbelievably devastating. I don’t know what to do today – to be so close yet so far away is just so hard to take. Stick together Gooners, we only have each other now…

  22. Le Gunner
    April 9, 2008 at 8:20 am #

    Senderos guilty as ever what a mess this player is.He was caught on the first 2 goals school boy errors I’m afraid. The sooner he goes the better. Eboue please pack your bags and go.One player who almost joined Arsenal in the summer and Wenger decided not to get him and that player is Babel. In the end he came back to haunt us but we should be proud of Walcott he was awsome.In the end that penalty decision that wasn’t given in the first league cost us dearly. Adebayor should’ve killed the game with a one on one with the goalkeeper. It wasn’t to be.Over the 2 legs we were the better team we needed a bit of luck and that luck never came.I think we have a fantastic team except 2 or 3 players that need replacing.I thought over all we lacked a goal poacher with a killer finish a cutting edge was missing. Emotionally I’m exhausted just watching, the players must be heart broken. I just hope they left themselves up and give us something to cheer about against M.utd. As for the Champions league I don’t give a toss who wins it now well I hope its not M.utd the arrogant bastards.it will be a sleepless night for me.I feel like the season has come to an end tonight. Gooners stay positive.I’m looking forward to next season.

  23. Mexican Gunner
    April 9, 2008 at 8:28 am #

    Do you think that was a penalty?
    cuz Im not

    Diaby was great and what an amazing play of Walcott, maybe the best thing I see in the entire season, anyway, for me its completely over… Im thinking in next season

    I hope this was the last game for Eboue with us, thanks for everything your funny and stuff but bye unfortunately its not the same for Bendtner cuz Arsene says that he will be a better striker next season, that means he will stay, damn.

  24. Le Gunner
    April 9, 2008 at 8:51 am #

    The penalty is debatable it is not as blatant as the one we didn’t get in the first leg. I just feel had it been Arsenal that penalty will not be given.But I think that is not the reason why we lost the game. We should ve killed Liverpool in the first 25 minutes with the football we were playing absolutely brilliant.but certainly our defending was poor. As I said the cutting edge wasn’t there.the team need a bit of tuning and if Wenger get the missing pieces this summer we will have a fantastic season. I think Wenger Has learned a lot about this team and realises the premier league is the strongest in the world we have about 6 teams with lots of money, few seasons back it was between us and M.utd and that is no longer the case Chelsea and Liverpool came into the mix and to compete now you need a huge squad.Next season Wenger will be well prepared.Tonight Even Liverpool fans praised the way Arsenal played and admitted that we were far superior footballing wise.So we should be proud.

  25. Zion
    April 9, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    How could they let down the fans that have so little but still pay to see Arsenal play??
    My husband is one of the invisible Arsenal fans that neither the players nor the managers may think about. And last night my husband and I had a big fight at home because he wanted to go out and watch the match with Liverpool which was transmitted late night in our country time. He went out any way because there is nothing like Arsenal for him. And his reward was a defeat. I felt happy in one hand because there will be no more late night fights but I felt sorry for him because no matter how many times Arsenal is defeated he hopes next time will be better. I guess there won’t be next time (at least for this season).
    What I want to say for Wenger and the players is to understand that there are millions of fans around the world who save money from the little they have to watch Arsenal’s games by Satellite transmissions and also fight with their mothers and wives to go out late at night because of the time difference. How could Arsenal lose so many games just as it doesn’t matter that much?
    For some one who has begun to hate Arsenal, I am wishing to see them wining at least one trophy for my husband’s sake!

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