Welcome back. It’s been a great start to the weekend today and not just because the weather’s had a fleeting heating. No, the glorious Saturday sunshine in London was accompanied by dropped points by United in Manchester, and by Tottenham in Leicester.
With Man City and Chelsea both facing tricky away trips tomorrow afternoon and Arsenal hosting Liverpool on Monday night, we now have the increased possibility, however slight still, of emerging from round three of the Premier League as the only title contender to take maximum points. Come on Serge Gnabry…
But back to current members of the Arsenal first team squad and Mesut Ozil has been speaking to the official site about last season’s league fixture against Liverpool at Emirates Stadium, when his sumptous free kick, along with a rasping drive by Alexis Sanchez and a beautifully-taken opener by Hector Bellerin, saw us steamroller the visitors and effectively secure the three points before half-time. He said:
During the warm-up I kept focusing on that corner and took five shots after the other. The practise went well and that’s why I thought during the game that it had gone well in the warm-up so I would surprise the goalkeeper. That’s how I scored the goal, and I was really pleased with it. It was a nice feeling. When you assist goals or score them yourself, it does you good but what’s most important is that we have success as a team and that was the case against Liverpool last season. We were really convincing, the whole team was very focused and played really well. I remember that we delivered a really convincing display. In the first half we decided the game because we had a high level of concentration and wanted to utilise our potential. We want to do that again this time. We’re at home and we know exactly how we can beat Liverpool. That’s what we want to do on Monday.
So Mesut certainly sounds confident of repeating the beating we gave Brendan Rodgers’ men back in early April this year, and the Liverpool boss is equally bullish on his own side’s chances of victory. He said yesterday:
If you assess games against Arsenal we have always had dominance of the ball, especially at home. If you assess the last 10 games Arsenal have lost at home, it was about dangerous possession for the teams who won. They (the other teams) only averaged four shots on target with 43% possession. That tells you you don’t need to dominate the ball but you can dominate the space. That is important in the away games. Tactically we’ll arrive in a good mind about how we can win it. There are certain games you look at the approach to get you the result and that is something we have been working on this week.
Now unless he’s signed Frank Lampard over the summer – the only player in football who truly ‘dominates space’ through sheer stomach size – and the one over in New York is some kind of imposter, I’m not sure how he’s going to execute his plan, because the likes of the slender Philippe Coutinho couldn’t dominate a phone box, spatially speaking.
Anyway, it’ll be intriguing to watch the Liverpool boss pit his considerable wits against Arsene Wenger, especially now he’s taken the unusual step of divulging his tactical master plan prior to the match. Then again, his revelation could be a dastardly decoy. He might actually set his team up to go toe to toe with us possession-wise and unleash the deadly Danny Ings’ to wreak havoc in our penalty area. Who can really know until the action unfolds on Monday night?
Right, it’s too hot to continue typing, even as we near midnight in London. Plus my laptop is in danger of over-heating like Jose Mourinho when his medical staff do the job they’re paid to. So I’ll leave it there.
See you on Sunday.