I am super excited about the new season and have missed the Arsenal more than ever. It's been a rather strange summer, it feels as if the last game of last season was an absolute age ago yet at the same time it feels as if the Euros and pre season has flown by this summer.
The reintroduction back into Premier League football is far from a simple task for Arsenal, indeed the same could be said for today's opponents. In fact Liverpool have only won once in the last twenty away visits to Arsenal, although it must be said, it hasn't felt that way, perhaps because trips back home from Anfield have not always been very pleasant.
This is Jurgen Klopp's team now and the past will mean very little. In fact since Klopp turned up at Liverpool they have a very good record against the big clubs, his high intensity pressing style destroyed Manchester City at the Etihad stadium and they swatted aside Chelsea at the Bridge. Arsene Wenger has often found it difficult against this approach so I am interested (and slightly nervous if I'm honest) to see how we handle that today.
We have bought a deep midfielder in order to build up our game through the lines and you can be sure that Klopp will be fully aware of that, especially as Xhaka has played all his best football in German football where Klopp was manager
I hope to see Elneny play alongside Xhaka today as his one touch passing could be the escape route that we need when Liverpool come charging at us but I did not see much of Elneny alongside Xhaka during the pre season while Coquelin played pretty much all his minutes alongside Xhaka so I wonder if that is the plan for today, perhaps as some insurance defensively, or a tactic to win the ball higher up the pitch I don't know.
Centre back is an issue this afternoon as we all know. I don't see Arsene going with Holding and Chambers in such a big game. They may well have all the quality needed but experience as individuals or as a partnership is in short supply, especially for Holding.
The manager has already ruled out Koscielny from making an early return which is probably the sensible option, although I'd have felt a lot more secure if he was starting this afternoon, so I suspect that Monreal will move back into centre back as cover and Kieran Gibbs will start at left back. Nacho Monreal was our best centre back the last time we had a defensive crisis and that is often overlooked due to our lack of options at the time, the narrative really kicked in during that time. Reports a few days ago suggested that Arsene could turn to Mathieu Debuchy to cover in that position. I'm less convinced about that due to his recent months, but who knows maybe the pre season has sharpened him up and the advantage of that is that we do not have to move Monreal from left back, meaning less disruption. Still not sure we will see that though... which probably means we will.
Our wide right attacker is perhaps the other difficult position to call. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has had a solid pre season and has looked sharp for the most part but Theo Walcott's contribution off the bench in the last game against Manchester City may have cemented his place in the team, especially if Alexis Sanchez will be leading the line. I think Walcott compliments Sanchez's interpretation of the number 9 role. Alexis can't help but drop off the front into deeper areas in order to get on the ball, Walcott could enjoy running into those vacated spaces just as he did so efficiently in our last pre season match against City
Walcott has been getting it in the neck so this is a clean slate for him somewhat, a good performance and important contributions could come at the right time for Walcott.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
I would love us to kick the season off with three points and a solid performance, that would be fantastic. I hope we have prepared right for this fixture because Liverpool will be dangerous today. I have a horrible feeling about their new signing Mane. The kind of annoying opposition player to cause us problems on the break.
What I'd love to see though, is a performance in which we successfully play around Liverpool pressure, some sharp football in the final third along with a really good centre forward display from Alexis Sanchez. That would be pretty cool on match day one wouldn't it?
I just hope we do not fall behind at any time, you get the feeling that folk are itching to boo due to our transfer business not being finished yet. The last thing we need is to whack a big psychological hammer into the minds of the players on day one. When Jermaine Defoe equalised for Sunderland yesterday against Manchester City late in the game I wonder what would have happened if the City fans had jeered and protested. Would City have found the winning goal? We will never be able to answer that but I'm pretty sure it does not give you more chance of scoring. If that is true then surely it's self defeating.
Anyway I just hope we don't have to come to that, I'd much rather we race into a three goal lead and keep a clean sheet.
A few things before I head off. If you have not listened to the pre season Podcast with Elliot (@YankeeGunner), Tim (@Stillberto) and James (@Goonerfanatic49) then you can do so here > AV Post Match Podcast - EP91: How Mad Should We Be?
You can catch JR's latest thoughts also here > Arsenal's Summer Of Limbo And Lust
The post match Q&As will return so if you are interested in taking part after the game or any other then drop me a message and let me know.
I have a few other ideas this season and if I can manage my time well enough, I will get around to getting that done.