How Things Stand Heading Into The Arsenal Game

This Sunday, Liverpool are scheduled to take on a resurgent Arsenal side that has enjoyed a revival of form with back-to-back 4-1 victories over Galatasaray and Newcastle United. Previously, the Gunners bowed down to an agonising  5-1 defeat at the hands of a relentless Liverpool side at Anfield last season. But with pretty much a majority of things going against what the fans have expected from the team so far this season, the Kop end can now only pray for history to repeat itself in this week’s highly anticipated Super Sunday encounter.

Here, we have a look at how things stand for Liverpool as the 18-time English champions look to end their recent league slump with 3 points at Anfield on Sunday.

No Mario Balotelli for Liverpool, not even on the bench this time.

The Italian international has been slapped with a one-match ban by the FA for his Super Mario post. The FA claimed that Balotelli’s post contained “anti-semitic and racist references” and further handing him a fine of £25,000 alongside a mandatory education course. Talk about timing, the ban has ruled Balotelli out of Liverpool’s important league fixture against Arsenal. But with no goals after 10 appearances for Liverpool in the Premier League, will his absence be felt?

No Mignolet too, confirms Rodgers.

Under-fire boss Brendan Rodgers has meanwhile stated that he will once again leave the Belgian international out of his starting lineup this week. When asked if he would reconsider Liverpool’s goalkeeping situation, Rodgers replied: “No change.”

Brad Jones hasn’t fared too well in Mignolet’s absence either, conceding four goals in two games (three against Manchester United, one against AFC Bournemouth).

Regaining some momentum with that 3-1 win.

Brendan Rodgers

The victory over AFC Bournemouth at Dean Court has eased a lot of pressure on Brendan Rodgers’ shoulders, with the fans seeing their team bounce back into winning ways after back-to-back setbacks against Basel and Manchester United. The one-sided affair that saw Liverpool emerge 3-1 winners over AFC Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup also gave The Reds’ supporters plenty to cheer for, with £20 million signing Lazar Markovic finding the net in the second half and showing glimpses of his talents to finally justify his heavy price-tag.

Dejan Lovren a doubtful starter.

Lovren is currently in serious doubt to start in defense against Arsenal this Sunday. The Croatian international picked up a groin injury in Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over AFC Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup during the midweek before being substituted at half time.

And guess who came in for him? Mamadou Sakho! Yes, Mamadou-freaking-Sakho. Honestly, I have never in my life been so glad to see Sakho back in the starting lineup. Liverpool’s defense has been in shambles on so many occasions this season, and there isn’t a better defender than Sakho in the Liverpool locker-room to step in and fix that mess at the moment.

Manquillo drafted back into the starting lineup?

Let us all agree, we all saw the talent in this young Spaniard when he debuted for the club against Southampton at the start of the season. And when the Reds beat Ludogorets Razgrad in the UEFA Champions League group stage, Manquillo pulled an impressive performance for the team yet again.

Yes, inexperienced and still lacks first team football to say the least, but Manquillo is definitely a signing for the future at Anfield. With regular choice right back Glen Johnson sidelined for up to a month after tearing his groin muscle in Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester United, Manquillo could well be on his way back to the lineup if Rodgers deploy a four-men defense having been benched for the entire 90 minutes in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over AFC Bournemouth earlier this week.

Have something to say? Tell us the outcome you predict when Liverpool take on Arsenal in the comment section below!

 

Targets for Liverpool FC Going into the Christmas Break

With the fixture list being increasingly congested, it is a good time to sit down and reassess the realistic (and not so realistic) objective for Liverpool going into the the Christmas break.

Matches Before the New Year

So, this is how Liverpool’s fixture list headed into the new year,

9th Basel (Home)
14th Manchester United (Away)
17th Bournemouth (Away)
21st Arsenal (Home)
26th Burnley (Away)
29th Swansea (Home)

A few games to take note of – affects which tournaments we compete in for the next few months – will be the game against Basel & Bournemouth. The Basel game will be one whereby its either win or bust for Liverpool, with Group B presently looking like this.

Home Away Total
Clubs P W D L W D L W D L F A +/- Pts
1 Real Madrid CF Real Madrid CF 5 2 0 0 3 0 0 5 0 0 12 2 10 15
2 FC Basel 1893 FC Basel 1893 5 2 0 1 0 0 2 2 0 3 6 7 -1 6
3 Liverpool FC Liverpool FC 5 1 0 1 0 1 2 1 1 3 4 8 -4 4
4 PFC Ludogorets Razgrad PFC Ludogorets Razgrad 5 1 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 3 5 10 -5 4

The message to Liverpool is fairly simple, its win or bust. My point of view is that there is really no positive outcome whatsoever from losing – our fixture list won’t be any thinner, because we will have to make the even bigger round trips in the Europa League should we draw or lose (Liverpool will still finish third in the group in this scenario, if Ludogorets lose to Real, by virtue of a better head to head record). Liverpool struggled and eventually went down to Basel in their first encounter earlier on in the season, but Rodgers has gotta get these players together and grind out that win.

In the Capital One cup, Liverpool were given a fairly favorable draw against minnows Bournemouth. Most likely, this will be an exhibition game for the younger talents in the team to develop their game in a more competitive environment, or an opportunity for the fringe players to come out and show Brendan Rodgers that they deserve to be a starter on the team. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think the Capital One cup should be ranked too highly on Brendan Rodgers’ list of priorities. Ultimately finishing strong in the league should be Brendan Rodgers’ primary objective for now.

Manchester United, Arsenal, Burnley & Swansea are the opponents which Liverpool will have to face in the cold month of December, and it doesn’t make for too easy reading. Manchester United, although having had a stuttering start under Van Gaal, have been performing fairly consistently over the past few weeks, being in the mix for those elusive Champions League places. I most certainly hope Liverpool will rise to the occasion, as they so often have in the season so far, and take a victory over our rivals there.

Arsenal lie 4 points ahead of Liverpool, and on paper looks like the game where Liverpool will more likely be able to take 3 points from. Given Arsenal have just dropped 3 points against Stoke City this very weekend (whom we beat the week before) will perhaps give Liverpool confidence ahead of this game. Realistically, I think Liverpool has to aim for at least 3 of those 6 points available against Arsenal and Man United as they go into the Christmas break.

From the Burnley & Swansea games, I am expecting the 6 points given Burnley are struggling in 19th place in the BPL table at the moment, and Swansea are our direct competition in the mid-table mix at the moment. In my opinion, they are both very winnable games, and we will definitely need all 6 of those points if we are to avoid that mid-table mixup heading into the new year.

So, what do you guys think Liverpool’s aims for this Christmas break should be?