Football.com - everything football

Arsenal and Liverpool in 'must win' epic

By Nicholas Spiller



Arsenal's Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey (R) looks on as Liverpool's Danish defender Daniel Agger vies with Arsenal's Ghanaian/English midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong (L) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at The Emirates Stadium in north London, Engand on August 20, 2011
Arsenal's Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey (R) looks on as Liverpool's Danish defender Daniel Agger vies with Arsenal's Ghanaian/English midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong (L) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at The Emirates Stadium in north London, Engand on August 20, 2011

Arsenal has been struggling this season, what’s new?  Liverpool has as well, though their struggles have been far more elongated, stretching the span of several years now. 

For these teams that used to be Premier League contenders, just earning a spot in next year’s UEFA Champions’ League has become the single goal, especially for Liverpool who were just eliminated from the FA Cup by mighty Oldham. 

The two teams will play at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow in a game that will set the stage for the final run-up to the end of the season.  What should we expect?

Goals and goals galore!  Both teams have excellent offensive production and know how to score goals, and both clubs also have had issues and mental lapses on defense that present their opponents with chances that leave the fans scratching their heads.  Thus, the goals should come out in this game

For Liverpool, Luis Suarez has been the single force of positivity in a largely forgettable season and has notched 16 league goals this year.  His speed and trickiness make him a dangerous player. 

New signing Daniel Sturridge has fit in nicely at Liverpool and has already scored several goals.  This takes some of the pressure off of Suarez and the pair looks solid together.  With Steven Gerrard providing the support this team has the tools to score some goals.

Arsenal has such weapons as well though.  Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud have been in fine form the past few games, and are combining better than they ever have since their arrival to the club last summer.  With Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla in the midfield, Gerrard will certainly have his hands full. 

But Arsenal’s finest weapon comes in the form of Theo Walcott.  Walcott has scored 10 league goals in this season, which is shaping up to be the best of his career.  After signing a new deal with the Gunners, Walcott will be looking to continue his fine form. 

In the table, both clubs are looking to make a late-season surge.  Residing in 6th and 7th position, they will be looking to this game for the platform to launch a serious run at the table. 

Arsenal recently defeated both Brighton and West Ham, but also endured the setback of losing to both Chelsea and Manchester City earlier this month.  That does mean that their end-of-season schedule will be a bit softer, but those losses have left them in a dire position.

Liverpool was also outclassed earlier this month by a punishing Manchester United and had their rough FA Cup defeat this past weekend.  Their 5-0 thumping of Norwich did present some reprieve though.

Basically the picture that I’m trying to paint here is that both clubs are terribly inconsistent, and usually crumble in the face of serious opposition.  On their day, both Liverpool and Arsenal can play with their tails up and put opponents to bed, but then there are those games where they just never really click, and some silly defensive error costs them the game.

Because of this similar vein of play as well as inconsistency, I see this game becoming an enthralling game resembling the 4-4 of several years ago.  Players will push forward in their desperation to claim a victory over a decent opponent.  But since both clubs are equally inefficient at the back, the goals will flow in. 

So how about another 4-4?  Walcott scores two, while Giroud and Podolski each add one.  Liverpool’s Suarez will score two, Sturridge notching one, and Gerrard blasting in a long-range equalizer in stoppage time to tie the game.  The woes and frustrations will continue with this draw for both teams and they will eagerly overpay for some average player in a panic on Thursday’s transfer deadline day.