Football is a team sport. Fine.
But moments of genius win you games, especially tough ones. And even if the positions of the respective teams do not show it, Liverpool still is a big deal as far as Arsenal is concerned. Much of our bad performance last season would be attributed a generally sleepy start from our players but Sturridge and Sterling were particularly devastating with their pace that afternoon.
This time, we have learnt our lessons and we go to Anfield at a point when some of our players are getting into second gear, and to leave Merseyside with all three points for the first time this season, those players may have not negotiate into third level.
One of the many who’ve had constantly impressed over the past 5 – 6 games, Santi is becoming our darling again after a rocky, indifferent start to the season. It is a thing to be cheered that he has not been in the injury circus train that has taken the majority of our creative players on-board. His resonance with Alexis on and off the pitch has made us tick in attack and we would want to see them click again at Anfield. Memorably, Santi’s first Arsenal goal came at this ground, in a man-of-the-match display with Lukas Podolski.
Needless to say he’s been the star man of the team until now and two assists against Newcastle proved how useful he could be as a disguise to create space for other teammates when the opposition pays too much attention on him. The focus has been on how he picked us over Liverpool and there will be no better opportunity to prove he made the right choice. He would have to be more careful with the ball not to give it away in dangerous situations as Liverpool did punish us last year when we had given the ball away too naively.
In an ever changing back four, Mertesacker has managed to be the ever present one and his ability to coordinate whoever will be his partner will be very crucial. If Sterling should be the false nine, the German will have to make quick decisions on how close he would need to be to the nifty youngster not to get shadowed in pace. Summoning Chambers on Debuchy to see to the eclipsing of the Liverpool man will chiefly be the vice captain’s job.
Not in his usual forward role do I expect Giroud to be at his best but in defending our corner kicks. There’s no way we are letting Skrtel score a brace from set-pieces against us again and Giroud would give us much needed presence in clearing dead ball situations in a team where the average height is much closer to Santi’s.
It had raised so much anxiety amongst Gooners that Liverpool had signed the Southampton man who had looked quite a solid defender last season. Fast forward 6 months and what a travesty he’s been at £20m? Of course, he could yet improve, as Simon Mignolet might too, but we could do with him being in the line-up for a probable assist to Welbeck, in the same fashion as he gave to Mata for United’s third goal.
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