Liverpool-Arsenal: Artillery Rolls To Anfield But Will It Be Out-Gunned?
In the annals of history there is much conflict recorded between Frenchmen and Spaniards, this weekend brings another such encounter Liverpool's Rafa Benitez entertaining Arsenal's Arsene Wenger, the two managers and their respective teams contest the tie eager to improve their standing in the league and strike a body blow to a fierce rival.
With both sides having lost in the champions league fixtures they played this week, it was Liverpool who will be more worried, with the Anfield reds having fielded a strong line-up although they did have the luxury of blooding Aquilani before what is assumed will be his premier league debut against Arsenal.
Encouragingly for Liverpool and their support, Aquilani embodied all the traits that caught Benitez's eye in the first place, composure, creativity and craft were all shown by the Italian in a display that would almost have been as equally annoying to see for fans of Liverpool because they can now get an idea of what they have been missing so far this season.
Arsenal have the stronger league record but were made to look worryingly deficient when faced with strong opposition when they were imperiously brushed aside by Drogba and company at the Emirates two weeks ago. They have since beaten Stoke, with Arshavin taking on the role of talisman in the absence of the injured Van Persie, the Russian easily showing the world of football what they will miss next year in South Africa.
Arshavin was of course the star of the show last season in a game that went part of the way to killing Liverpool's ailing title bid. He will again need to be at his hypnotic best if he is to again take the plaudits in this hotly contested fixture.
In Arsenal's midweek Champions League fixture they may have been defeated, but will be overjoyed at the progress one of the clubs future hopes, Aaron Ramsey and the qualities he showed to the watching audience. Style, control and Vision were abundant in the Welshmans play, the youngster looking more and more likely to follow in the tradition of Welsh stars of the past and present.
Wenger took the opportunity of the dead rubber to field the youngest ever Champions League starting eleven, eclipsing Ajax, who held that particular record.
Liverpool were held last weekend at Ewood, in a remarkably toothless display and could only conjure up a bore draw, one of only seven such goal-less games this season, four of them being battled out by Blackburn.
Fernando Torres was a substitute in the game against Fiorentina though and the team will be quietly confident in their striking ability this weekend, with the rapier sharp Spaniard back in the striking role.
It has been written many times before that with a fit Torres and Gerrard combination, Liverpool are undoubtedly one of the strongest sides on the planet and with these two present, it is always a chance for Liverpool fans to let the mind wander back to the glory days of Liverpool power in which their side had England and the continent at its mercy.
Saturdays game presents Arsene Wenger with a chance to redress the beatings that Arsenal have taken from Manchester City and Chelsea with a victory that could further damage Rafa Benitez's ambitions of keeping his team in touch with the hoard of gold that lies waiting in the Champions League spots.
Arsenal are already there, but will be nervously aware of Spurs playing Wolves at home and taking third spot from them with what is expected to be a victory for the home side at White Hart lane.
Arsenal have looked by far the better team this season although Liverpool have looked far more competitive in top rung games having beaten Manchester United and drawn with Manchester City, who both took three points off Arsenal.
Arsenal's young guns will fancy their chances and Arshavin will definitely be returning to a ground he has fond memories of, having plundered four goals in last years astonishing four all draw. Liverpool will most likely start Aquilani and Anfield regulars will be hoping that the inclusion of all their attacking weapons will be enough to out gun an ambitious Arsenal.
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