Strap yourself in Gooners, the fixture list of death begins tonight at Anfield.
That was supposed to sound edgy and exciting but now I have read it back, it sounds rather stupid but hey ho, the point very much stands. Liverpool away followed by Stoke City away and then two home games against Chelsea and Southampton make these next few weeks pretty crucial for us. Fail to pick up many points and we slide down the table, go on a winning run and the wind will be well and truly in our sails.
But I suppose it is not time to be talking about runs of games and the cliched 'take one game at a time' mantra will almost certainly be trotted out around the football club at this moment in time. Arsenal's performances have been patchy for a few weeks now. We have done very well to pick up the amount of points that have been gratefully received since the enforced midfield reshuffle but you get the sense that we are only playing well in moments rather than full games. I don't think we've played anywhere near our best since we beat Manchester City but even that display was more about our commitment rather than our overall quality
I am kinda hoping that we have been saving a big performance for tonight. A big night under the floodlights at Anfield is a great test of our squad. An Arsenal victory would pump the squad full of confidence which would be ideal for the run of fixtures we have coming up but on the flip side, defeat could be a psychological blow to the team.
Jürgen Klopp had some nice words to say about Arsène Wenger and it seems the German has gone a step further by doing all he can to emulate the Frenchman. I mean how else can you explain their recent injury crisis? That said the numbers on the treatment table seems to be shrinking by the hour. From having no fit centre backs available they now have Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho fit enough to start as well as new emergency loan signing Steven Caulker.
But the good news for Arsenal is that they will be without some of their best players. Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge will be missing the game with twanged hammy syndrome. Is it me or is it unusual for Arsenal to be playing opponents who are missing their best players while apart from Alexis, we have ours? Maybe I am looking through red bias spectacles but it certainly feels different.
Scrap that, somehow I forgot about Cazorla and Coquelin but you know what I mean.
It is going to be a very intriguing battle tonight, we have often struggled against high pressing, high energy teams and Liverpool have had plenty of success against top teams this season with this tactic. But I wonder if Liverpool's legs have enough in them to carry it out, especially after so many recent injuries. On our part I am interested to know how we approach this one. Do we fight fire with fire and take the game to them? Or do we adopt the more cautious approach? allowing them to have the ball and then spring on them when we win the ball back?
As for our selection, I see no reason for Mesut Özil to be brought back into the team. We won convincingly against Sunderland and players should be made to earn their places back.
I kid, I kid. Had you there for a second didn't I?
Yeah so obviously magic man Mesut comes back with that sweet left foot of his, Nacho Monreal will return at left back alongside Per Mertesacker no doubt. Rested Rambo with a goal under his belt should be raring to go also which can only be good news for us. Think he could be quite important to us tonight if he can move the ball quickly and use his energy to get up and down the pitch.
I wonder if Arsène is tempted to bring back Mikel Arteta into the starting 11, especially as the use of the ball will be so important in a game like this but given that Flamini had a full week off, I think the Frenchman may win his place back.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
Even with a depleted injury list, it is going to be a tough evening for Arsenal. They can be as dodgy as anything defensively but if you find yourself hemmed inside your own half without being able to get out a little as we were at White Hart Lane last season then it will mean very little. I would like to see Theo Walcott make more runs off the shoulder of the Liverpool defenders. Since he moved to the left I think we are seeing this a lot less frequently. There might be some space in behind them tonight and it is down to us to exploit that space.
I'd have loved Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck shutting down Toure and Sakho whenever they were receiving the ball. Both of their first touches are awful. Campbell aside, I don't see us doing much of that tonight though, especially if we have decided to play on the break.
Who knows eh? We will see how it all goes down tonight.
Let's hope for a big performance and an important away victory.