With all the fear of a stiff and tricky home tie against Newcastle done away with in an emphatic style, attentions shift to the trip to Anfield next week in our last game in the first half against the ‘top seven’ this season, and having faced Chelsea, City, United, Spurs and Everton without a win, it will surely be on Wenger’s mind to snatch all three points to see us prance further on the log.
That ambition has been dealt a big blow, though, as Wenger has confirmed the absences of two stars, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny, for the game.
“Ramsey will be out for a few weeks and Koscielny as well. They will not be back next week ” Wenger said.
Both players were ruled out for the Newcastle game with Hamstring and Calf injuries despite being rested in midweek.
Ramsey seemed to have been en route discovering a patch of form following a less than impressive start before now. Three goals in his last two games were good signs, but a late call to Wenger on Friday meant he couldn’t be available in yesterday’s win over Alan Pardew’s men.
Koscielny, on the other hand, has only played one game – against Southampton – since returning from an Achilles injury that had kept him out since October. The Frenchman apparently returned knackered from the World Cup in the summer, first suffering a head clash in the game at Leicester, with Achilles and now Calf strains.
Mattieu Debuchy, in Koscielny’s absence, deputized at center-back and put in a composed display in partnership with Mertesacker against his former club, as neither Calum Chambers (banned) not Nacho Monreal (injured) was available. That may not be the case next week as Debuchy should resume at right back at the expense of the improving Hector Bellerin, while Chambers will play at center-half.
Still, it will be a loss to us that we cannot have Ramsey going to Anfield. The Welshman has the energy that would have come handy to pose more of a presence in midfield, as against the somewhat light-weight pair of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mattieu Flamini.
The Ox has been given a run of two successive games in central midfield and has done very well indeed, even setting up the first of Ramsey’s brace against Galatasaray. Ramsey, however, has been one of the better midfielders at the club going forward as well as making challenges and that quality will be missed against Rodgers team who like to break at pace.
Perhaps Francis Coquelin could have a bigger role to play in that game. The 23-year old Frenchman was recalled from his loan at Chalrton, and though was not needed from the start against Newcastle, played the last quarter as a substitute to Alexis Sanchez, helping to provide more security for the defence when we appeared more vulnerable after conceding.
Coquelin, a defensive midfielder, has spent most of his Arsenal first team career as a defender, but will not fully reproduce what either one of Ramsey or Lolo would have given at Liverpool – a goal threat and a secure partnership with Mertesacker, respectively.
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