It’s been another busy week in football but for once the attention has been on a handful of Liverpool’s rivals for a change. Particularly on Arsenal as their long, drawn-out decline has steadily continued since the weekend, with Fabregas leaving and Nasri looking as if he’ll be following him to Manchester City in the not too distant future. Coupled with the suspensions of Arsenal’s new star Gervinho and Alex Song from their midfield and the Gunners are looking to be in a bit of a tough position for the next few games, at least.
The obvious way in which this affects the Reds is that we roll up at the Emirates at the weekend, and as one or two former players have said this week: there is no better time for Liverpool to play Arsenal. The boys will have got the disappointment of last Saturday’s draw out of their systems and will have had an extra week to build up the fitness levels that were sorely lacking toward the end of the second half on Saturday afternoon. With the players that have left Arsenal and those that will be suspended, it was reported today that Wenger will have to turn to three of his young stars to fill the gaps and Liverpool should go for the kill from the off.
The Gunners are likely to go with the following line up on Saturday morning: Szczesny; Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Jenkinson; Frimpong, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Walcott, Van Persie, Arshavin, whilst the Reds are likely to go with: Reina, Enrique, Kelly, Agger, Carragher, Adam, Lucas, Downing, Kuyt, Suarez and Carroll. Just to err on the side of caution, I expect Carroll to start as the lone striker with Downing, Kuyt and Suarez assisting when going forward and packing out the midfield otherwise. Of course, as we’ve seen since Kenny took over in January it’s next to impossible to predict who will start but whoever we line up with there can be no doubt in any Liverpool fan’s mind that at 12:45 on Saturday afternoon we will be sending out a much stronger team than Arsenal for the first time in a long time and a win over one of our top rivals for a top 4 spot could have a huge impact on the confidence of the squad.
Elsewhere, there are rumours today that David Ngog is almost certain to join Bolton by the weekend. Depending on where you find that particular story, it’s either £4 million plus additional fees or just a basic fee of £4 million. Either way, it’s a profit of over double what we paid for him and he can leave with his head held high, after doing the job he was signed for. However, there are a couple of confusing aspects of this transfer for me: 1. that the proposed transfer isn’t being used to strengthen Liverpool’s position in any potential signing of Gary Cahill and 2. the supposed ‘replacement’ for Ngog is Wigan’s Hugo Rodallega.
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