The two teams clash at a very important stage in the League. A win for both could propel their top 4 chances. A loss could take both far away from the Champions League qualification berth.
Rishabh Ghai takes a look at this mega clash between the Gunners and the Reds and predicts an outcome.
The Gunners have turned their season ever since their disappointment against Bradford in the Capitol One Cup. Although their past matches involve heavy victories over Newcastle United and West Ham, they have been given reality checks when it comes to taking on the big boys. A 2-1 and a 2-0 defeats at the hands of Chelsea and Manchester City respectively have highlighted huge chunks in their armour. However, with the current run of form, Arsene Wenger’s men will be looking to maximise Liverpool’s inconsistency when they meet on Wednesday.
Arsenal have found their rhythm in the middle of the park back again. The midfield which looked lost in the initial stages of the campaign has started to gel well. The likes of Cazorla and Wilshere have re ignited the lost spark since the departures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas. The fit again Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky give more depth to the midfield. Last season when Arteta was injured, his absence was greatly felt but Aaron Ramsey’s discovery as the holding midfielder instead of an attacking one has left Arsenal with ample cover in that region.
Not only this but the resurgence of Lukas Podolski on the left and Olivier Giroud upfront alongwith the superlative form of Theo Walcott has left Arsenal with plenty of attacking options. The deadly trio have started to gel well, linking with the midfield and firing almost at will. 7 goals (combined) in the previous two matches highlights the kind of threat they possess upfront.
To add to this, Arsene Wenger has done well to tie the club’s promising youngsters to the club on long term deals. This leaves him with a chance to build a team for the future.
Horrible man marking, poor defensive set-up and a lack of defensive cover have exposed the long term problems in the Arsene Wenger era. Arsenal’s defense has been really poor in the last few games, conceding cheap and unnecessary goals.
Their zonal marking has not worked well and they have paid the price for the drop in concentration in the past few games. Per Mertesacker, who started the season off in a brilliant manner, has looked out of sorts. Laurent Koscielny is just a mere shadow of his former self of the 2011-12 season. To add to this, Arsenal lack defensive cover in the left back region. Andre Santos always looks jaded and lethargic and switches off frequently. With him on the left for the Gunners, the opposition always seems to have a field day.
Another cause of concern is the fitness of their only defensive midfielder Abou Diaby. He, being injury prone, cannot be relied on in crucial games. Although he has demonstrated class whenever he has gotten a game, the Gunners do not have an able DM to replace him if injured. A Gilberto Silva-esque type of midfielder is greatly needed for breaking up opposition’s plays and making lunging tackles.
Brendan Rodgers has a lot on his hands to do to make Liverpool reach their full potential. The happiness surrounding the arrivals of Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea and Coutinho from Inter Milan has been overshadowed by their disappointing defeat at the hands of Oldham in the FA Cup 4th Round. Although tough times were expected by the fans, a defeat of this kind surely underlines Liverpool’s inconsistency.
Liverpool’s strengths lie in their attack. Brendan Rodgers has been able to translate the brand of football which he made Swansea play last season to Liverpool. Liverpool on occasions have played breath-taking football. The attacking play involving Gerrard, Suarez and Sterling has been a treat to watch. The return of Borini also widens Liverpool’s attacking options.
To add to this, the improvement in form of a certain Jordan Henderson clearly shows he could have a future with the Reds. The 22-year-old has silenced his critics by putting in some brilliant performances. The return of Lucas in the midfield for Liverpool has certainly allowed the likes of Gerrard and Henderson to attack with a little more freedom; leaving the defensive duties for Lucas to take care. Their 4-3-2-1 formation has paid dividends and Suarez seems to be having the time of his life at front.
Liverpool’s newest acquisition, Daniel Sturridge, seems to have started his Liverpool career in a brilliant fashion. Scoring in 3 out of the 4 matches he has played, he seems to have stamped his authority in the team’s starting lineup.
Liverpool’s weakness primarily lies in the goalkeeping department. With their first choice keeper Reina’s form tapering, Liverpool’s second choice keeper Bradley Jones seems to be having the type of games he would like to forget. With a defense consisting of the quality of Skrtel and Agger in it, Liverpool should be rarely conceding. But this has not been the case with them.
Goalkeeping errors, poor positional play and over eagerness in attack have seen Liverpool fall short at times. Under utilisation of a class midfielder in the name of Nuri Sahin, which Liverpool signed on loan from Real Madrid, has raised question marks over Brendan Rodgers tactics. To add to this the constant rotation of keepers has kept Liverpool wanting for a stable defense.Borini’s dry spell infront of goal has seen the goalscoring burden being shifted entirely on Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan has been doing well so far but a little dip in form and you wonder where the goals might come from.
Importance of a win
Both sides will be looking for all three points at the Emirates to keep their top 4 hopes alive. Where on one side there is pride of being in the Champions League place for the 15th consecutive time is at stake, the other side sees a side trying to regain its former glory.
Liverpool also need to regain the trust of their supporters which was lost due to a shambolic 3-2 defeat at the hands of Oldham in the weekend. Winning this would give them a morale booster for the rest of the season.
The Final Verdict
A highly entertaining and open game at the Emirates is on the cards. With both teams playing a similar brand of football and having similar problems in defense, they could create plenty of chances. However, Arsenal at home have the home advantage to go with them. And with Arsenal’s forwards being in a better form than that of Liverpool’s, the Gunners might be favourites to clinch this tie by a 2-1 margin.
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