Liverpool and Arsenal fans haven’t had a lot to cheer about recently. After a great start to the campaign, we’ve fallen away with losses at Sunderland and, most painfully, at home to Chelsea, while Liverpool are out of the Champions League and struggling to ensure they appear at Europe’s top table again next season.
Which is why yesterday’s results were so satisfying for both clubs. Chelsea, tipped to run away with the league after demolishing us at the Emirates, scored three at home against an injury plagued Everton and still didn’t manage to win, while United lost their hoodoo over Villa, going down at home. We now have two games in hand on both, and two wins would see up leapfrog the champions and sit just three points off the top.
Liverpool, meanwhile, saw Spurs lose at home to Wolves, and City drop points at Bolton, meaning a win today could lift them to fifth. It is a massive game for both clubs.
And historically, when that is the case, the match ends in a draw. And while a sharing of the points would still make this a very decent weekend, it may leave both rueing the chance to make it a perfect one.
The team news is mixed. It seems that Gallas, Traore, Diaby and Arshavin have all recovered from slight knocks, although Eduardo may miss out despite claims of his availability earlier in the week. The main question is who plays through the centre of the front three, the most likely candidate being Arshavin, reprising his role against Stoke last weekend, and hoping to inflict further nightmares on a Liverpool defence he so famously put to the sword in the same fixture last season.
Another option is Theo, who has been coming in for some harsh criticism this week. No doubt he needs a run of games, but to throw him up front for a game of this magnitude, when he hasn’t long been back from injury, would be a mistake in my opinion. I suspect he’ll start on the bench, with Arshavin flanked by Nasri and Eboue.
That will certainly give us options from the bench – Walcott has come from there to hurt Liverpool before, while Vela and Ramsey are also creative options.
Liverpool have Gerrard and Torres back, so we have to hope the latter isn’t fully fit yet – often when playing through pain Torres is a shadow of the striker he can be. As for Gerrard, keeping him quiet is Song’s job, and I have a lot of faith in the Cameroonian these days – a year ago that matchup would have given me nightmares, but no longer.
I’m usually optimistic on predictions, but I’m going for a 1-1 draw today as it seems the most likely result. But we were gifted some tremendous results yesterday, and if we can sneak a victory somehow, some way, then we’ll be right back in contention.
Enjoy the game.