By the skin of their teeth, Liverpool have gained six valuable points at the start of this season’s Premier League. Goals from an offside Cristian Benteke and a wonder strike by Brazilian Phillipe Coutinho assured the reds are still with their 100% ratio.
But both wins looked relatively dull and unconvincing, and Liverpool are yet to play a top 8 side, with Arsenal being the first. The team seemingly look sluggish, with defensive and striking options being limited and lacking the quality we come to expect from Liverpool. A goal for Benteke, supposedly ruled onside when he was in a different postcode to the last man, could still however spark confidence for the Belgian which could cause a serious concern for our defence.
However, Liverpool are playing a team on the up at the moment. After a disappointing loss to an impressive West Ham side, the Gunners then went to Selhurst Park and picked up a vital 2-1 win. Although not an inform team, Arsenal have already gone through two tricky ties, and so could be mentally prepared after that impressive display against Palace, with the likes of Mesut Ozil gaining a 98% pass accuracy during the game.
But who would we play to ensure our Premier League season is properly back on track? Here is my suggested XI for this Monday nights game.
Formation : 4-2-3-1
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
After the West Ham game and possibly the goal at Palace, Cech was the scape goat and was blamed for his mistakes. Yes of course it was his problem, however fans must be patient. At a new club; new home, new philosophy, new fans and a new manager, it’s going to take a few games to warm the gloves up. Remember that we brought Cech for the big games in particular, so this would be a real test of the ex-Chelsea player.
Left Back: Nacho Monreal
Liverpool play, as of 2 years ago, a formation which usually sees a left and right forward, behind a striker. Usually, Coutinho plays as either a central player or on the right, and so could really cause issues to the left side of the pitch. In this case, Monreal’s calmness on the ball would be a great option for Wenger.
Centre Backs: Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscienly
I would think Wenger would have a similar thought process to myself in this, where Benteke is one of the biggest threats through aerial attacks. With a giant in Mertesacker and the closing down of Koscienly, I think they could keep Benteke quiet during the game.
Right Back: Hector Bellerin
He is the favourite son to every Arsenal fan at the moment. Watching him a few years ago, I fell in love with a combination of his pace and defensive attributes, so I’m very happy to see him become a first team starter. In this fixture last year, he bagged a goal in a 4-1 win, and Bellerin kept Sterling quiet during the entire game. Since then, Liverpool haven brought in James Milner and Robero Firmino, who have both played as left attackers in the last 2 games. I don’t think we will have too many problems this year down this flank, but however I would rather play an young Bellerin rather than a struggling Matheiu Debuchy.
CDM: Francis Coquelin
Simple as. He was our saviour last season, and he will almost certainly save us points this season too.
CDM: Santi Cazorla
This is the position which is causing many issues and fights in the Arsenal fan base. We have a choice of playing Ramsey in his preferred role in central , and possibly sacrifice a game, or we can play him wide and make him upset. Aaron Ramsey has already come out to the media speaking about his frustration in playing wide, but we usually play better with him there so we can’t really complain. When alongside Coquelin, Ramsey likes to attack and usually bombs forward, leaving Coquelin to clean all the mess up, and unfortunately the Frenchman’s passing distribution is pretty poor. On the other hand, playing Santi Cazorla next to him allows Coquelin to make simple passes, where Cazorla can distribute long balls to the wingers. With Liverpool being an counter-attacking team, two holding players is a necessity, and so Cazorla would get the call up for me.
Left Midfield: Alexis Sanchez
This man is honestly a machine. I’d like to see him rested, but the player is desperate to play, and so Wenger has given the green light. I think we can assume he will be starting. Playing against Clyne could be a difficult task, however Sanchez is the faster of the two.
Central Attacking Midfield: Mesut Özil
For the Palace game, the German played 55 passes, with only 1 pass not being completed (98% pass accuracy) which is incredible for anyone to do. With an assist this season already, I hope that he could end August with at least another, to silence the media and to really kick on with his Arsenal career, but that could depend on the wingers alongside him, as he’s created over 150 chances for Arsenal, with only 14 being converted. The striker for the match will really need to up his game to lift the team.
Right Midfield: Alex Oxlaide Chamberlain
It’s difficult to understand why the Ox was left out the team for the Palace game, and it was also difficult to see Ramsey replace him on the wing. He has finally rekindled his form and he honestly looked like the bright spark against Chelsea and West Ham. If he can avoid injuries this season, he could have an ‘Sterling esque’ season when Liverpool lost the title with 3 games to go. In that season, Sterling was the most dangerous wingers in Europe, with a mixture of pace and skill that caused issues for defenders. Ox seems to have similar quality, but has a better mentality to hold the ball with his strength, rather than attempt to get a penalty. I would love to see the Ox boss the defence, and leave Moreno in the dust. A combination of himself and Bellerin behind him is honestly frightening, and it would be brilliant to see.
Striker: Theo Walcott
Apart from the Benzema stories that are still fluttering around, Theo, Welbeck and Giroud are seemingly going to be the only strikers at Arsenal this season. With Giroud’s hold up play being commended, Theo’s contrasting speed and dribbling really is a gem to behold, and I predict it will be too much for the likes of Sakho and Lovren. I believe a front three of Alexis, Theo and The Ox (all inform) could win us the league.
Prediction: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0