Liverpool vs. Arsenal: Victory at Anfield Would Put Reds Season Back on Track
Bouncing right back from the embarrassing defeat in the season opener against West Brom, Liverpool put out an absolute power-packed performance against Roberto Mancini’s men.
Despite leading the game on two different occasions, the Reds allowed the champs to take a share of the spoils when Carlos Tevez capitalized on Martin Skrtel’s blunder to stab home the equaliser.
Rodgers’ tiki-taka philosophy has begun to take shape and with the players adapting to the new methods so well, it wouldn’t be longer before the fruits of labour are borne.
With every game there is visible improvement in player performances. It's not only a refreshing sign of change, but also the imminent arrival of the era of Liverpool dominance that has for long been in its infancy.
And on the road to dominance, awaiting the Red men is the still goalless Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger’s side has not made an easy recovery to life without Robin van Persie as the Gunners’ new strikers in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud have yet to hit their targets.
Both sides have their own demons. Whilst one is trying to adapt to a new style of football, the other has new players trying hard to find their footing in a competitive environment.
Arsene Wenger will be inviting unnecessary pressure if his team is unable to find a breakthrough at L4 this weekend.
Despite Podolski’s and Giroud’s shortcomings in front of the goal, Arsenal has a ray of hope in Santi Cazorla. The Spanish midfielder has seamlessly settled to life in the English Premier League and has already tormented the defences with his clever passing.
Brendan Rodgers, on the other hand, is slowly building his reputation as a man of his words.
I said when I first came in; I wouldn’t judge people on their status, on what they are or what they have done, but on what I see in front of me.
And Rodgers did exactly that when he saw fit to hand 17-year-old Raheem Sterling his first start in the Premier League against the defending champions.
Rodgers’ overall team selection deserves some credit as well. His decision to play Glen Johnson as a left-back in order to facilitate Martin Kelly into the defence shows the confidence that he has in the club’s youngsters.
Rodgers clearly is unfazed by the size of the club and its supporters. He rarely looks a man who is hopelessly out of his depths.
He knows he has a big job at hand in trying to put Liverpool back on the global map of fame and profit.
And he should start out on the journey towards his target by first coming on top of Arsenal this weekend.
Losing Lucas Leiva for three months will certainly be a big blow in Rodgers’ plans but trust the Irishman to have an alternative ploy up his sleeve.
What do you think will be the result of Sunday's clash?
Steven Gerrard can always take up a role with more defensive responsibilities which may actually come in handy for the skipper who has of late seemed to be lacking in conviction to be a proper fit into the fast paced style of play.
The return of Daniel Agger offers yet another option for Rodgers as he can stick to employing Sebastian Coates in the back alongside Skrtel while pushing the Dane into Lucas’ spot.
Joe Allen has been very impressive in his first few games and, unlike Henderson, is very keen on passing the ball forward and attacking the opposition third.
His non-stop work rate is appealing and the plaudits that he has begun to receive from the supporters are a credit to his hard-work.
Nuri Sahin may end up lacing his boots for the first time in a Red shirt against Arsenal.
Sahin and Allen will likely be taking over the roles of deep-lying playmakers depending on Rodgers’ decision to cover the gap caused by Lucas’ injury absence.
And then there is Oussama Assaidi who is still awaiting his debut and is more likely to receive it this weekend as Rodgers may look to exploit the frailty of the Arsenal wing-backs by exposing them to the speedster.
Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini are yet to hit their respective rhythms as both have struggled for goals in recent games, bar Suarez’s brilliant free-kick against Man City.
Meanwhile, speculation continues to mount over the future of Andy Carroll who is yet to start a Premier League game for the Reds this season.
After having begun the season in the most inauspicious of circumstances, Rodgers looks to have gained control over the ship and has set out on plugging the leaks in the system at a brisk rate.
The improvements were visible during their encounter against Man City last weekend when experts felt that the final score line was unfair on the hosts’ performance.
A victory against Arsenal would firmly set the Merseysiders on track towards what could be a return to Champions League football at the end of the season or even equip them well to launch a competitive title chase as well.
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