1st September 2012
The impressive showing against the reigning Premier League champions didn’t prove enough for a much desired victory, but Liverpool are hoping another such showing would given them the first league win of the season. Arsenal arrive at Anfield looking to end the two-match winless, and goalless run, as well as finally restore some of the lost confidence.
Many people were quick to criticize Liverpool following the 3-0 opening defeat to West Brom, pointing out that Brendan Rodgers was no miracle worker and that the Reds could be in for yet another disappointing season. However, team’s scintillating display against Manchester City proved the loss at the Hawthorns had been nothing more than a one off result, and it gave the players and fans alike reason for optimism before the crunch tie with Arsenal. Brendan Rodgers was brave enough to opt for 17-year-old Raheem Sterling rather than Stuart Downing and the decision more than paid off given the young forward were excellent on the day. Not even Lucas Leiva’s injury could prevent the Reds from producing a stunning display, with Jonjo Shelvey showing that he can be counted on even in big games. Once again, Luis Suarez was team’s most dangerous player up front and he did well to score from a free-kick, but more importantly, Steven Gerrard and Fabio Borini looked much better than in the season opener. Two defensive mistakes gifted City an underserved point, but with Daniel Agger returning from suspension and Jose Enrique finally fit to start, even the back line should be much more convincing than a week ago.
The departure of Robin van Persie and Alex Song has left some big shoes to fill, and it is more than clear that new forwards Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski will need time to start producing their magic. Backed by the thoroughly impressive Santi Cazorla, the two players have shown a glimpse of quality in first two games of the season, but everybody could see that the understanding with other attacking players was clearly missing. That is the main reason why Arsenal are not only winless but also goalless after two Premier League games, and the match against Liverpool is hardly a perfect opportunity to end that run. Even if the Gunners have done well to keep two successive clean sheets, it is fair to say their back line was hardly tested against Sunderland and Stoke, with the situation now set to change when facing the likes of Gerrard, Suarez, Borini and Sterling. Wojciech Szczesny could return to the side after recovering from a rib injury, while Laurent Koscielny is back after a calf injury.
I have to admit I was thoroughly impressed by Liverpool in the 2-2 draw with Manchester City and the Reds can be trusted to build on that result and beat misfiring Arsenal at Anfield. On paper, the Gunners seem like a great team even without RVP and Song, but it will take them few more weeks to properly gel and start producing what is expected of them.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 23/20
Bookmaker: Paddy Power