Why Liverpool Will Beat Arsenal Tomorrow Afternoon

The Arsenal v Liverpool game tomorrow is something I am looking forward to. As with all the big games, you can only be excited about them and the rivalry between Arsenal and Liverpool is still one of the great encounters. Sure, games against Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham are special but I would put the game against Liverpool right up there in the footballing calendar.

Maybe it’s because one of my earliest childhood memories was watching the Liverpool v Arsenal game with my father and seeing that amazing goal from Michael Thomas in the final seconds. I was fortunate enough to briefly meet Michael Thomas a long time afterwards and remember how much of a nice guy he was. He signed an autograph for me and really couldn’t have been a nicer bloke. Along with watching Thomas the Tank Engine episodes and playing football in the park, that goal is one of the most memorable childhood recollections I have.

You can’t deny that Arsenal v Liverpool games aren’t special.

In recent times, our fortunes at Anfield have been very mixed. Last season we travelled to Liverpool and got absolutely slaughtered 5-1. The season before we won 2-0 with goals from Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, and the season before that we won 2-1 when Robin Van Persie scored a dramatic winner with only minutes remaining.

In the last 6 encounters at Anfield, Arsenal have won 3, drawn 2 and lost 1 – which all in all isn’t bad at all.

And one of the games we drew we completely threw away, which was the game Andrei Arshavin scored a phenomenal 4 goals – after only having 4 shots all game.

So onto tomorrow, and if you go on current performances then Arsenal are seemingly clear favourites.

But if you look at the last 10 Premier League games, this is how Arsenal and Liverpool have actually fared:

afclfc

As you can see from my very hi-tech and fancy graphic, both Arsenal and Liverpool have had mixed fortunes in the Premier League. I think the reason why people seem to think Arsenal are in better form is because of the last couple of weeks – we’ve managed to beat Borussia Dortmund and Galatasaray in the Champions League as well as beat Newcastle United convincingly at the weekend. Liverpool on the other hand drew to European minnows FC Basel and Ludo Razgd in the Champions League, and lost heavily to Manchester United in their last league game.

But if you just put domestic form into account, there’s hardly and real difference there.

So don’t think Liverpool will be a push over.

Another problem Arsenal have is Brendan Rodgers is under fire from the media and Liverpool supporters, and will be desperate to turn things around as soon as possible. Unfortunately for us, he would have learnt a harsh lesson from the Manchester United game and will be looking to get the fans back onside with a big win over Arsenal.

With our defensive problems, players like Sterling will be a big threat.

Liverpool’s players will still be hurting from the criticism that has been thrown their way and if anything you will probably see a very defensive Liverpool (even at Anfield) who will be looking to catch us on the break – and unfortunately that is probably our biggest weakness, conceding goals on the counter attack.

For Brendan Rodgers this would be a low risk tactic and something he will be looking favourably upon.

If Arsenal want to get anything from this game, they are going to have to be patient, controlled and make sure they don’t go throwing men forward.

I can see goals in this game but Arsenal need to ensure they don’t buckle under the pressure – especially as they have a record of conceding late goals and letting leads slip, like they did against Anderlecht and Swansea.

My heart says Arsenal will win 3-1, but my head says Liverpool will beat us 2-1.

For Once Arsenal Get A Decent Champions League Draw!

Well I didn’t expect that.

With teams like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid all possibilities, I thought we were nailed on for getting one of the big boys (or should that be “massive” boys?).

The two other teams which weren’t superpowers were Monaco and FC Porto. Don’t get me wrong, they are still excellent sides who are very dangerous (you wouldn’t have made it out of the group if you weren’t) but they aren’t as daunting as playing a side such as Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.

And to make matters even more awesome Chelsea, a side notorious for getting easy draws in the Champions League (an honour they share with Manchester United) drew Paris St-Germain. Of the second placed teams they could have been put up against, they were probably the most difficult side to face. Manchester City drew Barcelona, which will be a massive test as they face Luis Suarez, Neymar Jr and Lionel Messi over two legs.

But back to Arsenal, and every Arsenal fan has to be pleased with that draw. When it comes to the Champions League, I’ve always said it doesn’t matter who you face in the knockout stages because if you want to win it then you’re going to have to play the best teams anyway. But since we’ve been knocked out of the last 16 for the last few seasons, it would be nice to have a first round knockout game where we didn’t think we could progress – with Monaco, we have a real chance of getting into the last 8 if we play at our maximum performance levels.

I always believe that if we play our best football we are a real threat to any side in European football.

So there we are. Do you think it was a good draw for Arsenal?

Do you think we can reach the last 8? Or will Monaco prove more difficult that we think and knock us out?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Arsene Wenger MUST Stay At Arsenal!

Arsenal fans have suffered a lot over the last 9 seasons with the highest ticket prices in the country, and the lack of trophies arriving at The Emirates. At the end of last season, it seemed as if we had turned the corner somewhat, with the FA Cup win in May. Since then however, any credit Arsene Wenger thought he had has quickly run out.

The summer was one of optimism for Arsenal fans, with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez who has hit the ground running and has quickly become our best player by a country mile. Despite playing in the World Cup he seems still seems to have the best work rate and his effort and desire are off the charts. His Arsenal teammates would do well to learn from his example, and players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are.

In early December things looked bleak – we were 6th place in the Premier League, 13 points off Chelsea who have pretty much got the title sewn up with 6 months of the season remaining. On the flip side however, we were only 2 points off a Top Four position.

But herein lies the problem – teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton – teams who you would expect to be fighting for a Top Four place – are all under performing, some in spectacular fashion. Yet we haven’t taken advantage of this and have been struggling badly ourselves.

Just like in previous seasons where teams around us have played poorly, we’ve not managed to get any real consistency and put in a real challenge for the title.

But in a strange way, that’s probably the reason why Arsene Wenger is the right man for Arsenal.

It’s a fact which is rehashed time and time again but it is true – Arsenal have been in the Top Four and been in the Champions League for the last 17 seasons. The likelihood is that we will be in the Top Four again this season while teams like Liverpool and Manchester United may not be. To achieve that level of consistency (even though it’s not the kind we would like) is still a massively impressive achievement.

How many times have we seen it before? Liverpool almost won the Premier League last season and where are they now? Manchester United won the league and then brought in a new manager and it all fell apart. Would you really like to get rid of Wenger, do well one season and then fade into the abyss the season after?

Look at the man who has been touted as Arsene’s replacement Jurgen Klopp. Borussia Dortmund now sit at the bottom of the Bundesliga. Now you will point to the fact that he has lost his best players in Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski in the last few summers but does that not sound familiar? Arsene Wenger has lost Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Thomas Vermaelen, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna and a host of other players yet managed to keep us in the Top Four – and added an FA Cup triumph last season.

Jurgen Klopp is one of the best managers in world football and look how he is struggling. Arsene Wenger has lost arguably more players yet still maintained that level of consistency.

While I would be the first to admit that Arsene Wenger has his failings, which manager doesn’t? No manager is perfect and while it is perfectly understandable that you want more (I am the same) and want more trophies, sometimes circumstances conspire against you. Sure, the Top Four might not be what Arsenal fans want but considering everything Arsene Wenger has had to endure over the last 10 seasons, you cannot deny that any other manager in world football probably wold have fallen short of consistent Top Four finishes.

In a way, Arsene Wenger has been consistently over-achieving and has made a rod for his own back.

Arsenal are now looking more financially stable and over the next few seasons, I have no doubt that Arsene Wenger will assemble a real team capable of mounting a real challenge for the Premier League title.

He has managed to get Arsenal to this position, so he deserves the chance (within his current contract) to prove that the decisions he has made were right and given the opportunity to build a squad that he thinks can win the Premier League.

Since the disappointing defeat to Stoke City away (which I maintain Arsene could not be acceptable for – Mertesacker and Chambers were to blame there) we’ve won in style against Galatasaray and Newcastle United. And before that we beat Southampton, Borussia Dortmund and West Bromwich Albion.

That’s 5 wins in our last 6 games, and if Chambers didn’t get sent off I highly doubt we would have lost against Stoke City.

They say the grass is greener on the other side, but in this case the other side is a garden full of rhizomorphs. Basically not good.

Arsene Wenger is a manager who should be revered and appreciated. He has done magical things for this football club.

Per Mertesacker And Calum Chambers To Blame For Arsenal Defeat

After a 3 game winning streak against Borussia Dortmund, West Brom and Southampton, it seemed that Arsenal had finally turned the corner. The defensive lapses and naivety had seemingly gone and there was a new found confidence in the squad. Arsenal also had Olivier Giroud back from injury, and he could help Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez at the attacking end of the pitch. Mathieu Flamini has slowly improved his defensive game, playing a more mature role and Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were all finding form at last.

But poor performances from Per Mertesacker and Calum Chambers yesterday threw away all our good work over the last couple of weeks.

You know what you’re going to get when you visit Stoke City. The sad thing was they don’t play long balls as much as they used to under Tony Pulis and under Mark Hughes they play more on the ground. They will still use their height advantage at times but it wasn’t as intense as it was in the good old days. Yet we still gifted them a ridiculous 3 goal lead which was hugely preventable.

For the first goal, it wasn’t even a long, looping ball which usually causes us problems, it was a simple cross from the right hand side which Calum Chambers horribly misjudged and this causes chaos in the box. The ball bounced into the path Peter Crouch who had a simply tap in from 4 yards. It was noticeable that on the initial cross there was no leader ship from Mertesacker, and he was nowhere near the danger or ball. Where the hell was he?

For the second goal, Per Mertesacker who was our captain was once again nowhere to be seen. Another cross found Bojan who slotted in from 7 yards and had no Arsenal player within 5 yards of him. A simple goal which only Arsenal could concede. How one of Stoke’s main strikers wasn’t picked up so far into the penalty area is beyond ridiculous. While in past games you could blame the team or even the manager for our defeats, the defensive lapses from Chambers and Mertesacker cost us dearly here.

We went 3-0 down after Walters rifled in from 2 yards out after Arsenal failed to deal with a  Stoke corner. Per Mertesacker opted to inexplicably leave the ball he could have won while Calum Chambers was nowhere.

So we went into the half time break 3-0 down, conceding some of the most ridiculous goals you’ll ever want to see. Mertesacker and Chambers were being given the run around by someone who is more suited to Basketball and a Barcelona reject.

Whatever Arsene Wenger said at half time seemed to work as Arsenal amazingly found themselves only 3-2 down with a good 25 minutes remaining after Santi Cazorla converted a penalty won by Mathieu Flamini and after Aaron Ramsey scored a rasping volley from a corner.

But then Calum Chambers once again hit the self-destruct button. Arsenal are threadbare at the back after injuries to Mathieu Debuchy, Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny, so getting sent off is idiotic. Added to that, we were well in the game and looked like getting at least a draw but once Chambers got stupidly sent off any chance of a comeback was well and truly over.

A valiant effort by Arsenal which was thrown away by extremely poor performances by two Arsenal players. This is an Arsenal defeat you cannot pin on Arsene Wenger.

Why Martinez Should Keep The Number One Spot When Szczesny Returns

So far Emiliano Martinez has played 3 big games against Borussia Dortmund, West Brom and Southampton. Borussia Dortmund may be bottom of the Bundesliga, but they are a different force in Europe – topping our group comfortably and securing first place with games to spare.

West Brom are unpredictable and we did well to keep a clean sheet against them, and last night we had Southampton visit The Emirates, who are sitting 3rd in the Premier League and are there because they are an excellent side. And once again, we managed to end the night with another clean sheet.

What impresses me about Emiliano Martinez is that for someone who is only 22 years old, he is so assured and confident, yet he is an unassuming character. He doesn’t rock the boat, and yet he just gets on with his job and makes excellent saves. Considering he’s playing for a team like Arsenal who domination possession, it is even more impressive because goalkeepers for top teams need to keep alert and he does that with no problem whatsoever.

So when Szczesny does come back from injury, there is a real case for Martinez keeping his place – and he should be given a chance while he is part of Arsenal’s winning run.

Arsene Wenger would be stupid to drop a player who is full of confidence, winning matches and has the full support of the Arsenal faithful.