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:
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.