Liverpool v Arsenal Josh's Preview

Most of you will remember the night of 21st April 2009 as the night Andrey Arshavin properly announced himself to English football. 4 goals from 4 shots and Arshavin made himself an instant hero amongst Arsenal fans. After smashing in his 2nd goal, I thought to myself, “what a game this guy is having!”
On reflection however, he had not had the best of games. This video  shows his input into the game and how little of it there actually was.
Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal
Andy Gray summed it up perfectly after the 2nd.
“How can a player who has hardly had a kick produce that?”
Arshavin went on to produce quality finishes on two more occasions and his devastating display of finishing showed why Wenger spent so much money on a player who could not even play in the Champions League. He is a match winner, someone who can produce something out of nothing; he proved that at Anfield last season. After an indifferent start to the season by Arshavin’s own standards, one would not bet against him announcing himself once again on Sunday afternoon.
It seems he will be granted the central striker’s role once again and I guarantee Jamie Carragher will not be looking forward to that. Although Fernando Torres has far more prowess in the air, Arshavin possesses many of the characteristics that make the Spaniard one of the world’s best. He is strong on the ball while keeping close control of it at all times. He glides past players with ease and at a fast pace, and always seems to have defenders on the back foot. Add to this a sense of where to be to score goals and clinical right and left feet when inside the area, and we have one hell of an attacking player.
He is also extremely astute; he showed on Saturday how much thought he puts into the game. Knowing he was up against players who would dominate him physically, he chose to drop into space to get the ball rather than receive it with his back to goal. This allowed him to turn and run at the centre halves, exactly what they did not want. He was too quick at exploiting small gaps that opened up that they were not able to stifle his threat. On Sunday he will rely on his speed of thought to take up similar positions against what has been a very shaky defence. His willingness to take a gamble will stand him in good stead against a defence lacking confidence. With a spring in his step right after the Stoke game, Arshavin may well have the beating of Carragher & Co on Sunday.
I have mentioned how Liverpool will fear Arshavin, well the Arsenal players have every right to fear Fernando Torres. After 3 weeks rest I would hope he is still rusty and hopefully still struggling from the injury. However, Vermaelen and Gallas will be out to show why many Arsenal fans have been encouraged by their partnership throughout the season. Against Drogba they were somewhat embarrassed and Sunday gives them a chance to put the record straight. As Torres will play alone up top I can see Gallas and Vermaelen doing well against Torres, as long as Song is efficient in his role of stopping Steven Gerrard. Song has been outstanding this season but facing Gerrard is another story. He will have to track penetrating runs, but also be alert should the Liverpool captain drop deep. It will be a long afternoon for Song and let’s jus hope he does himself justice, as he deserves.
The midfield battle will be crucial on Sunday. With Song busy keeping Gerrard under wraps, Fabregas and Denilson will need to win their battle against Aquilani and Mascherano. Denilson must get in and around Aquilani as he is not match fit and disrupting him early could be crucial. Fabregas will have Mascherano working hard in front of the Liverpool back four, but Cesc must make sure he plays his game. Mascherano is a work horse but he will give you a chance if you’re patient. If all three central midfield players do their job, Liverpool should not be able to supply the front line with chances.
Wenger is down to the bare bones right now but that said he still has Nasri and Theo available to take their places on the wing. Both of them are still looking for match sharpness and have a job on to ensure they claim their place in the side once the injured players return. Nasri should have the chance to show his ability in a game where technical ability will be welcomed. Nasri will be required to run back towards his own goal to stop Glen Johnson. Nasri has always been willing to help out defensively but I hope it does not prohibit his attacking instincts as Johnson will leave plenty of space. Theo has a lot further to go to rediscover his best form. His touch let him down in midweek which was a shame as his runs were spot on: clever and decisive. If he can bring the ball under control quickly, he may get a few chances in behind Liverpool.
Arshavin is 100-1 to repeat his 4 goal haul. In ‘The Arsenal Pledge’ video, he says he will score 5 goals in one game. That is unlikely on Sunday BUT he may well be the deciding factor in what will be a fast and exciting game, of that I am sure. I am confident going into this one and I am sure it could be one of the games of the season. If we are on our game, we have the chance to well and truly eradicate and lingering title hopes that Liverpool may have.
The suspected Arsenal line up:
Subs: Fabianski, Senderos, Silvestre, Diaby, Ramsey, Vela, Eduardo (if fit)

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