After a somewhat euphoric week despite the pointless international mess to contend with, I find myself still in quite the giddy mood. Today though, that may change as we have yet another challenging-season-defining-must-win-game-that-we-cannot-afford-to-lose. How many times does it feel like we have said that this season? Ah well, either way we do face a sturdy challenge today given the resilient nature of the opponents we face. Yes, Liverpool FC are, in my opinion unequivocally the most team boring to watch in the league but are still going to be a tough nut to crack.
It only takes one look at the table to see that they will be hard to score against and definitely to beat. They are unbeaten at home and despite struggling to win in front of their own fans they have been difficult to break down. They only concede an average of 0.67 goals at home (courtesy of http://www.statto.com/football/teams/liverpool) so that highlights the challenge in front of us. I would certainly expect us to cause them all sorts of problems though and would expect us to build on the momentum gained from Sunday.
In terms of team news we look to be relatively unscathed from the international break aside from the rather perplexing decision to play Thomas Vermaelen by the Belgian coach, Georges Leekens. He picked up a knock from the disgusting foul from Scott Parker and was made to play the full 90 minutes. Strange to say the least but is still something we need to contend with.
Regardless, he seems to be the only fresh doubt but given the number of defenders currently sidelined, this could potentially prove crucial. Djourou, Mertesacker and Squillaci are all incapable of playing so this leaves either Song or Miquel to fill in at the back. This leaves us considerably weakened regardless of which choice we go with, as if Song fills in, we have no other holding midfielder as Coquelin and Frimpong are both injured. If Miquel plays then he will only be starting his second game for Arsenal in the league, and at Anfield that is some ask.
The full injury list looks like this according to Arsenal.com: Ramsey (ankle), Santos (ankle). Mertesacker (ankle), Coquelin (hamstring), Djourou (thigh), Squillaci (groin), Wilshere (ankle). All of Vermaelen (ankle), Van Persie (groin), and Rosicky (back) are doubts but ones I would expect to play. On a more positive note we have news that Diaby is back in contention and jokes aside I honestly wish him a clean bill of health. As frustrating as it is for the fans one can only imagine the frustration that he must be feeling.
Despite doubts over Vermaelen, Rosicky and Van Persie it seems that all are likely to start and have all but been declared fit by the boss at yesterday’s press conference. I would expect a team consisting of:
Sagna Koscienly Vermaelen Gibbs
I suppose the notable change from last weekend’s magnificent result is Yossi Benayoun. Whilst it can be argued that he deserves to continue in the team given his performance, I think having Chamberlain back in the team will be a huge boost for the team. He has been a real revelation since making his breakthrough and despite having some quiet games I feel he is someone that can really make the difference in the final third.
Anyway, as game time approaches, the nerves are increasing and as such I must shoot off to have a cold shower and pray for more of the same attitude, resilience and dare I say the character we showed in the North London Derby.
Come on you Gunners!