After the furore of our 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, our team have an opportunity to put a positive face on the last seven days, with a Carabao Cup tie against in-form Liverpool.
Much has been made of our performance, the VAR decisions and especially the actions and treatment surrounding captain Granit Xhaka, so Unai Emery will be more than keen to get back to footballing matters with this tie.
Of course, in terms of priority, the Carabao Cup is the lowest on our radar, but with the pressure mounting on Emery’s shoulders, a high profile win at Anfield and an increased chance to win silverware will obviously appeal.
Arsenal haven’t exactly been performing of late though, but could be buoyed by a big change in personnel in our side. It is unclear what approach opposite number Jurgen Klopp will take. If we face the full force of his strike force, a win could well be against the odds.
Emery must choose wisely in his team, and with the fixtures coming thick and fast, rotation will be at the top of the menu.
But who will Emery choose? Will it be youth with a dash of experience? Or will he go top-heavy and try to force the issue?
Emery was asked in his press conference about Mesut Ozil, and his comments seem to indicate that the German will be involved for the first time since his 71 minutes in our win over Nottm Forest.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Calum Chambers and Bernd Leno will most likely miss out, which means opportunities for others.
Firstly, Emi Martinez has another chance to impress, and with Chambers out of the squad to rest, then Hector Bellerin should come in to get more valuable minutes.
There should be rotation centrally too. David Luiz and Sokratis will probably make way, with Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi likely to play in their stead.
In midfield, Lucas Torreira should get a shot – whether that is at DM or further forward is up for discussion. Matteo Guendouzi could pivot with the Uruguayan, or it could be Dani Ceballos.
In attack, we could see Saka and Smith-Rowe feature, with the latter impressing against Vitoria he could get the nod.
Player to Watch
Jurgen Klopp could rotate too, and with Keita currently out of the first team, the former RB Leipzig man could get some game time. He is famed for his engine and his ball winning, but he can galvanise the entire team with his energy, and keep them on the front foot. It will be a straight battle between he and Torreira. The winner could decide the entire game.
How This Could Go
Our record at Anfield is pretty atrocious. We haven’t won there for years, and the wait is likely to continue, unless we impose ourselves. We seem far too passive lately, letting teams creep back into the game, or allowing our opponents to grab initiative early instead of us.
If we do that, then Liverpool, rotated side or not, will dump us out of the cup. We may not have this cup high up on our list, but we cannot pass up the chance to grab a win that could possibly act as a catalyst for the next few months. It would be a big one for our confidence should we snatch the glory and progress to the next round.
Mesut Ozil will be pivotal, and if Lacazette grabs another start, he and possibly Gabriel Martinelli could give him the targets that his vision needs. The young Brazilian especially has been a real livewire, and could be the trump card that swings the game our way.
Predicted Lineup – Martinez, Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Torreira, Ceballos, Saka, Ozil Martinelli, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – 2-2