Both teams are more likely to use the 4-3-3 formation. Liverpool front line: Salah, Gakpo, Nunez. Arsenal front line: Saka, Jesus, Martinelli.
■ Arsenal’s weaknesses and Liverpool threat
1. The tactical intelligence of Oleksandr Zinchenkor of playing as an inverted Midfielder might prove costly. The gap that he will be creating at the left full back side might relishly be exploited by the pacy, silky, and skilled Egyptian King Mo Salah. If Arsenal are to win this game, keeping Salah at bay is a must. Unfortunately, Zinchenkor is not that good defensive wise, especially in 1 v 1 situations. And to make matters worse, the guy who provides cover to Zinchekor when he moves upfield, Gabriel Maghalaes, is not that much quick. If I were Arteta, I would start Kerriean Tierney to contain Salah and his cut-ins, with the mark-master, Tomiyasu, who handled Salah in the first leg, now on injury.
2. Rob Holding might have well filled the gap left by Saliba (back injury) in the last two games, but this game is so demanding. Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez will surely cause physical problems for the young centre half. Arsenal can only hope that these two don’t see much of the ball, especially around Arsenal’s D-zone.
■ Liverpool weaknesses and Arsenal threat
1. The drop in form for Liverpool defence is cause for worry for the Reds, especially playing against the free flowing, skilled and fast attack of Martinelli, Saka and Jesus. Alot of action will be on the wings: Martinelli vs Trent and Robertson vs Saka. With the poor form, lack of speed and tactical indiscipline of one Trent Alexandar Arnold, the explosive Martinelli will surely exploit Liverpool at the right full back and cause damage. On the other flank, Liverpool will need to double on Saka if he is not cause any harm. Otherwise, Saka’s confidence on the ball, ability to take on defenders and beat them on 1v1 situations shud be a big worry for Liverpool. You give Saka a chance: you are finished. It’s either he creates a deadly chance for other fowards or does the job himself. Liverpool will have to make sure that Arsenal’s wing fowards don’t see much of the ball.
2. Liverpool’s central defence shud also be a concern, especially when VVD partners Konote. The former seems to have tired legs, always late on the ball, and having difficulties in defending cut-ins from the wings. While Konote is good on the ball, he drugs too much off the ball, and Arsenal’s centre foward Gabriel Jesus will relish this weaklink with his tactical movements up pitch, further drawing the central defenders away for his wingmen to do the damage.
The greatest battle will be in the midfield. Which ever team controls the mid will win this one as it will mean its foward see most of the ball. Thiago Alcantara’s return is a big boost for Liverpool. The guy has an eye for a pass. Arsenal can only hope that Partey keeps him at bay. On the other hand, Arsenal have their own secret weapon, Martin Odegaard… alittle silent but very deadly. A KDB in the making. The dribbles, passes, chances created and the goals from the young Norwegian are a marvel to watch.
A crucial game it is: Liverpool fighting for Champions League football and Arsenal fighting for the first EPL since 2004. By any means, this game promises to be a thriller. Both managers will surely look to their boys maintaining possession, and playing attacking football. Its an open game.
Ofcourse, by history, the odds are against Arsenal at Anfield as they last won there in 2012. But hey, ….before Mikel Arteta came, ARSENAL had not won at SPURS since 2014, at CHELSEA since 2011, and at MAN UNITED since 2006….but now, they have done that. This Arsenal squad is too hungry, confident and fearless. They are capable of re-writting this history at Anfield.
Liverpool 1-3 Arsenal.
*Views in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Malawi24 and its editorial team.