Alexis returns to help Arsenal get their season back on track
Match Preview: Liverpool vs. Arsenal - Premier League - 27.08.2017
A sloppy win over Leicester inspired us. It was, after all, a feisty turnaround as well as a convenient mirror-image to last season's opener, was it not? However, to have followed it with a stinker at Stoke did put a damper on things even if we gloss it over by convincing ourselves that things would have been different had Alexis been available. Would it have been, though? Doesn't matter--unless the FA has established a hypothetical Prem League for us to vie for. At any rate, we're off to a shaky start, and a trip to Anfield will do little to soothe jangled nerves.
Of course, Liverpool are not without their own Grande Vegas mobile casino payout sized worries. The summer-long saga surrounding Coutinho continues unabated, with the remorseless eating machine that is Barca looking to feed yet again. The uncertainty around his future might look and feel familiar to us, but I assume I'm not alone when I suggest that I'm short on sympathy. However, as things are currently shaping up, we're more likely to fight with the likes of Liverpool for a top-four finish than we are to keep pace with Chelsea or Man City.
With that in mind, and with our road-woes already rearing their ugly heads, it's essential that we go into Anfied with much more urgency and final product than we brought to Stoke. There, we were wasteful and overly generous, making Butland look both lucky and world class by turns. Against a squad that looked allergic if not inept in attack, we gifted them the only goal they'd need. Against Liverpool, we can't count on such allergies and ineptitudes. Coutinho or not, Liverpool have more than enough to worry a defense that hasn't yet looked as strong as it did in last season's run-in. Sadio Mané offers more than enough nightmares on his own. Trying to slow if not stop him will be a tall task, and how well Bellerín handles him may determine the outcome.
On the other hand, Liverpool have not looked all that stalwart despite earning a clean sheet (against Crystal Palace), for what that's worth. There's not a name in the backline that worries me. Then again, the name "škrtl" used to worry me. Klopp has selection woes, and Mignolet no longer commands or controls his area as he once did. Whoever Klopp does send out, it is essential that we attack as we did against Leicester in the last twenty minutes or so. We looked like we wanted to win. Badly. That hunger just wasn't there against Stoke. Heck, if you can't get motivated to defeat a rival with whom you share a heated history, well, what's wrong with you?
Two of our hungrier players, Koscielny and Alexis, have been deemed available, according to Arséne, and they should add not only passion but purpose to a squad that so lacking in either against Stoke. Should they be named, this will mark the first match in which we can field a full-strength XI. Looking past the two of them, however, I'm looking to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to finally and fully ignite. There have been endless rumours linking him with a move away to Chelsea and Liverpool, but don't let that talk overshadow his play to date. Without having scored a single goal, he still might register as our best performer of the young season, leading the Prem in successful dribbles (15), and his passing, crossing, and decision-making are all markedly improved. Maybe he's only auditioning for his next contract. So be it.
LAST 3 Meetings
- Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal (4 March 2017).
- Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool (14 Aug 2016).
- Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal (13 Jan 2016)
- One or both sides have scored at least three goals in four of the last five matches.
- Liverpool are undefeated in 26 of their last 28 home-matches in the Prem.
- Arsenal have now won at Anfield since
Cazorla is ruled out; Wilshere and Chambers are still doubtful.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI
Cêch; Monreal, Koscielny, Bellerín; Kolašinac, Ramsey, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Alexis, Özil; Lacazette.
This one has the makings of another topsy-turvy, back-and-forth. However, this time, Arsenal look to have the firepower to seize the day.
Liverpool 1-3 Arsenal.
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