Liverpool’s defence is weak; it’s time to recall Giroud
Match Preview: Liverpool vs. Arsenal – Premier League – 04.03.2017
Arsenal head to Liverpool for tomorrow’s late match at Anfield looking to secure a much needed victory for under fire Arsène Wenger. The whole team is under pressure to perform and whilst the title shouldn’t even be featuring in the players’ minds there is still much to play for.
Having been all but knocked out of the Champions League Arsenal’s best chance of a trophy this season is the FA Cup. Lincoln await them in the quarter-finals with a top four rival likely to block their way to the final should they progress to the semis. Therefore it is vital that Arsenal pick up some form in the league and start putting a run of wins together.
Despite struggling for form themselves in 2017, Liverpool are the bookmakers’ favourites for this match although looking at the football tips at FootballBets gives you an indication why. Liverpool has the best head-to-head record against their fellow top 6 sides whilst Arsenal has the worst.
As is customary, Arsenal is being tipped to drop out of the top four and Liverpool are desperately trying to get into it so this match carries some additional significance. As is also customary come March, Wenger has a selection headache with a number of injuries preventing him picking his preferred XI.
Arsenal welcome back both Aaron Ramsey, who has missed four games with a calf injury, and Laurent Koscielny, who picked up a thigh injury against Bayern Munich. Mohamed Elneny is expected to be out for three weeks with an ankle injury and Mesut Özil faces a race against the clock to be fit. Oxlade-Chamberlain can count himself unlucky to be in and out of the team with his recent performances and could be the high-energy option Arsenal needs in midfield to puncture through to the Reds’ leaky defence.
The Gunners’ manager’s striker selection will be interesting as Giroud has a good record against Liverpool but Alexis Sanchez would better suit the high-intensity pressing game Liverpool play. However, Klopp’s side seem to be suffering from a bit of burn out and may find it difficult to play their preferred tactics. For that reason I think Giroud should start. Alexis has been a revelation up front this season but we need to spread the creativity around and Giroud has the physique to bully a shaky Liverpool defence.
It’s imperative that Arsenal start well. As Wenger says, the players owe themselves a performance.
Arsenal (from): Cech, Ospina, Martinez, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Gibbs, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Walcott, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Perez, Sanchez, Giroud.
“At the moment I think it’s more important that we focus on winning our games and focus on our next game rather than dreaming about coming back to Chelsea.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool (14.08.2016)
- Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal (13.01.2016)
- Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool (24.08.2015)
Liverpool have been miles off the pace so far in 2017 bar a good display against Tottenham on the 11th February. In many respects Liverpool’s inability to string two passes together in 2017 is precisely why Arsenal should be wary of them. The Gunners have a history of gifting games to teams wallowing in a pit of their self-pity and uselessness. If there is ever a team you want to face when your form has hit rock bottom it is Arsenal.
Klopp’s team’s only other win in 2017 was at Plymouth in the FA Cup and their current league position of fifth is under pressure from Manchester United and local rivals Everton creeping up behind the Mancunians.
It may not seem this way to Gooners but Klopp is under the spotlight as much as his Arsenal counterpart. His style of play has come under attack from club legends as his high-intensity, attacking system seems to have burnt out his players as it did towards the end of his time with Borussia Dortmund. His record is also being scrutinised as after 55 games in charge of the club his win percentage is behind that of David Moyes in his ill-fated spell with Manchester United and his points total is matches that of sacked Brendan Rodgers.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last three home Premier League games against Arsenal (W1 D2 L0).
- There have been 16 goals scored in those three games at Anfield at an average of 5.3 per game, with the most recent game there ending in 3-3 draw last season.
- The Reds have only kept two clean sheets in their last 22 Premier League games against the Gunners and none in their 10 meetings at Anfield since a 1-0 win in February 2006.
- Jurgen Klopp is aiming to become the first Liverpool manager since Gerard Houllier in 1999/2000 to do a Premier League home/away double over Arsene Wenger in a single season.
- Klopp has exactly the same record as Liverpool manager after 56 Premier League games as Brendan Rodgers (P56 W27 D16 L13 and 97 points).
- Olivier Giroud has scored five goals in his last seven Premier League appearances against Liverpool, including three in his last two at Anfield.
- The only Arsenal player in Premier League history with more Premier League goals versus Liverpool than Olivier Giroud (5) is Thierry Henry (8). Andrey Arshavin has five alongside Giroud.
- Should Liverpool win this game then it would be their 50th home league win over Arsenal. As it stands they’ve only beaten Man City (50), Newcastle (53) and Aston Villa (55) more often in home league games in their history.
- Four of the 61 chances that Mesut Ozil has created this season have been assists (6.6%). Last season after 22 appearances, he had created 98 goalscoring chances and 16 of these were converted by the recipient of his pass (16.3%).
- Arsenal (13) have won more than double the amount of points from their seven Premier League games in 2017 so far than Liverpool (6).
- This fixture has seen 16 goals scored in the 90th minute or later in the Premier League; more than any other fixture in the history of the competition.
Courtesy of Opta & BBC Sport.
Liverpool’s defence is their weak spot but Arsenal have struggled to click in front of goal for a few months. If either side gets their act together it will be a straightforward victory. I expect a 3-2 victory but I’m not sure for which team.
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