Arsenal face a stern test of their credentials, perhaps their toughest so far, as Liverpool come to The Emirates.
We have faced Manchester City and Chelsea already, but those games were the first two games of the season, and were far too early to gauge how Unai Emery’s new regime was settling in. This match though, comes on the back of an unbeaten run that stretches all the way back to the Chelsea loss.
Are we equipped?
We’ll find out a lot after this game, and we will also see if Jurgen Klopp’s men really are the attacking team that the media have painted them to be. Does this Reds team have the title chops for the season? Do Arsenal have what it takes to keep up with the leading pack?
Liverpool are trading blows with City at the top of the league so far, and they have played spurs, City and Chelsea so far, with a win against spurs and two draws so far. It shows that this Reds team have certainly improved, and they will certainly test our unsteady backline.
So, who will play?
We have a bit of a problem with our defence. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin all face fitness tests before the game. If all fall short, then who will comprise our backline?
Perhaps our biggest challenge is keeping the likes of Mane, Salah and Firmino quiet, and the only hope we have is if we have our strongest 11. With Monreal, Bellerin and Kolasinac possibly out, we will most likely have Lichtsteiner and Jenkinson at full-back, just as we did against Blackpool midweek. We also have Sokratis as a doubt, leaving Mustafi and Holding as the first choice pairing in the centre of defence.
Granit Xhaka was playing at left-back, but the Swiss man will most likely be needed in the centre, as Matteo Guendouzi will be suspended for this fixture. Lucas Torreira will be key, if he can shackle the runs of Mane, we have a hope of stifling the away team.
Will we play both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette though? In such a tough fixture, we could lend a hand to midfield and play the likes of Ramsey in the three behind the striker, but with Laca and Auba such a massive threat, we could go all out. Mesut Ozil will almost certainly play too, leaving the likes of Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi to duke it out for the remaining spot.
Liverpool will be without Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson, meaning Fabinho will again start. This is where we could change the game. If we can overrun their midfield, we will have plenty of opportunities to strike.
How Will The Game Go?
This fixture always brings the goals, and both sides are geared toward attack rather than keeping it tight. The Redsa have scored 17 times in the last five games against us, and to avoid that happening again, we need Torreira to be at his very best. With our defence injury-ravaged, it’s vital we get help from our midfield.
We needn’t worry about scoring. Auba, Laca and the rest are all primed to pierce the Liverpool backline, and while Virgil Van Dijk is a beast in the air, he’s not the quickest on the turn. We need to keep the ball on the deck and give him runners to deal with.
If we can keep them quiet in the first half, we all know from experience that in the second half, we will turn up.
It’s about time we defeated Liverpool, we haven’t done so for six games. If Auba and Torreira bring their A game, we have a shot.