The 24th of August 2019.
This is the day that Arsenal will play its third Premier League match of the 2019/2020 season.
Our first two matches were against formidable teams, but somehow we managed to pull through, and win both.
Our next match will be the toughest one yet as we will be playing against Liverpool.
The same Liverpool that just recently won the Super Cup by beating Chelsea on penalties.
The same Liverpool that managed to win the Champions League last season by beating Tottenham 2 goals to nil. The Liverpool that completely THRASHED the one and only Barcelona 4 goals to zero in the second leg of their semi-final Champions League match.
Remember, this is the Liverpool that also beat Porto 6-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals of the CL, and before that, they had done away with Bayern Munich by putting three in the net against Bayern’s solitary goal.
This is also the Liverpool that hammered us 5 goals to 1 last December.
Yes, 29th December 2018, a date that I as an Arsenal fan will never forget. It took me months to get over that humiliation.
So, yeah, Arsenal is going up against that Liverpool.
Is there any hope? Will this be our first loss this season?
We’ll just have to wait for this Saturday to see what happens. (Best case scenario, the game ends in a draw; most likely scenario- we lose; most unlikely scenario, Liverpool lose).
But, before that, there is absolutely no harm in looking at the key players from both sides who can have a major effect on how that game turns out.
We’ll start from the back.
- Bernd Leno- Arsenal
Here’s a little stat for all of us Arsenal fans to sweat over- we’ve conceded at least three goals in our last four trips to Anfield.
Can Leno change the tide?
Will he be able to stop the Salah, Mane, Firmino, etc goals from coming in despite the blunders our defense might make?
Can he communicate effectively enough with our defense to ensure that none of those blunders occur?
- Sokratis Papastothoupoulous- Arsenal
He’s mainly on this list because he let the world know that he thinks our upcoming match against Liverpool will be easier than our match with Burnley, defensively speaking.
That’s a shocking statement when you consider that Burnley ended up at position 15 last season, while Liverpool was second.
Let us not forget Liverpool’s dangerous attacking trio of Salah, Mane, and Firmino. Will his new-found partnership with David Luiz be able to contend with the pace, creativity, skill, and goal-scoring prowess of these three Liverpool greats?
Another constant threat he will have to contend with, Trent Alexander Arnold. This Liverpool right-back is a formidable ball crosser, and he can run a riot on our defense if Sokratis and Luiz don’t keep a lid on him.
And then, this is Sokratis. He’s bound to make a mistake, but at least not as unforgivable as Mustafi’s. Will his mistake today cost us this crucial game?
I have my doubts, but, we’ll just have to wait and see…
- David Luiz
As I mentioned in my earlier post, we really need this man, ESPECIALLY today!
He’ll be the one to offer some leadership at the back, and possibly clean up Sokratis mistakes, plus offer support to Niles, Monreal, and Chambers.
- Virgil van Dijk-Liverpool
I’ll admit it; this guy is hot! But, his team is playing against mine today, so my gonads will have to take a back seat this team.
He is a potent defensive threat with the ability to create and score goals as well.
He was a Ballon D’or nominee in the last Champions League season, so yes, he is definitely someone we should be wary of going into the game.
Let us see if Ceballos, Aubamayeng, and Lacazette can manage to pull the wool over this guy at least once during the game.
- Trent Alexander Arnold- Liverpool
What more can be written about this young right back’s impeccable crossing ability, speed, agility, and work rate?
His ability to cause trouble along the right flank regardless of the defense muscle he meets means the likes of Niles, and our entire backline is going to have their work truly cut out for them.
He had 13 assists last season, and I’m sure he is fully intending to replicate and surpass that record this season as well.
- Fabinho and Georginio – Liverpool
The more I write about this topic, the more I realize how difficult it is going to be.
Fabinho and Georginio are a wonder pair in central midfield, and it’s going to be an uphill task launching a counter-attack for Arsenal when these two are on the pitch.
Somebody, please #prayforarsenal
Oh yeah, and our former player, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be playing today as well in midfield. That’s another reason to be worried, especially if he plans on playing his heart out just to prove a point…
- Granit Xhaka- Arsenal
Another reason why somebody has to please #prayforarsenal!
Torreria is still not match-ready, so we are stuck with Xhaka. He’s really useful when it comes to aerial defending of set pieces.
…he has this uncanny ability to get dispossessed in midfield, and causing fouls when he’s trying to win back the ball.
One mistake from Xhaka today, and our midfield collapses, our defense scrambles, and before you know it, a goal!
Pray for us, people, pray for us!
- Matteo Guendouzi- Arsenal
I love his hair! And, he’s definitely a bright spot in our midfield.
I hope his pace can help create chances for the strikers, and cause problems for Liverpool’s backline.
He’s going to come a lot in handy when it comes to our quick counter-attacks.
- Dani Ceballos- Arsenal
He has been all the rage since his full debut for Arsenal against Burnley. He has all of the qualities we have been missing in our midfield since Cazorla left.
Let’s just hope that he brings his A-game today, otherwise we are truly doomed.
He has the potential of giving our forwards all the crucial passes that can lead to goals. He also can help with the defensive duties that might prove overwhelming to our still struggling backline.
He is one of our main hopes for avoiding a major embarrassment against Liverpool, and I hope he can truly rise to the occasion.
- Lacazette and Aubamayeng- Arsenal
So far, our strikers have been an incredible duo.
However, they are going to have to dig really deep in order to penetrate Liverpool’s defense.
If they can get a goal each in this game, then this season will be much more rewarding for Arsenal.
- Firmino – Liverpool
You’ll remember this Brazilian forward from our 5-1 near-death experience last December. He scored a bloody hat-trick on that day, and since then, I have been unable to get the image of his pearly white teeth from my mind. He has scored at least 11 goals against us, which is more than his tally against any other club in the English Premier League.
- Salah- Liverpool
Salah is a force to reckon with all on his own, and our defenders are going to have a hard time stopping him from hammering at least one against us.
He is yet to rediscover his magical scoring touch, let’s just pray his re-awakening does not happen tomorrow.
- Mane – Liverpool
Another huge threat who does not seem to ever have an off-switch! He has scored the most goals for Liverpool since the year began, and I don’t think he’s planning to take a break from his goal-scoring racket.
Fingers crossed, he has a cold tomorrow or something that stops him from seeing the goal.
And, there you have it. 15 players that I will be keeping a close eye on today because they have the potential of taking this game either way.
This is a big game for us, and it’s going to take each player to give their best in order to contain Liverpool.
Good luck, and God speed, Boys!!!