Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Liverpool

A lot has happened since the sides met on the opening weekend of the Premier League. Liverpool have hit the metaphorical rock-bottom and are now on their way up again. I don’t think this is a good time to play the Scousers because they really don’t have much to lose, which always makes teams that much more dangerous.

However, Dalglish and his players haven’t done all that well away from home. Since their legend took charge, Liverpool have lost against the likes of Blackpool and West Ham away from home. They’ve also been knocked out of the Europa League after some sorry performances but those teams were not full strength. In contrast, they’ve beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and United and City at home, so on their day they can undoubtedly mix it up with the best.

The Mugsmashers have an interesting strike partnership developing. It’s too early to judge their January recruits but Luiz Suarez and Andy Carroll have the ability to form a strong attacking duo for years to come.

Both these strikers have qualities that make them invaluable to a team playing on the counter attack. And I have no doubt that’s how Dalglish will line his team up on Sunday. They will have two banks of four to defend and will rely on their ability to break at pace.

Under Benitez Liverpool thrived as a counter-attacking side and they have troubled us in the past even though they haven’t won away at Arsenal for a decade. I expect to see quick change of flanks, runs down the channels by strikers, midfielders (probably Meireles) running down the middle to support the attack, and a number of one-twos between the attacking players.

Arsenal’s back four will have to be at their best for the Gunners to have any hopes of picking three points. Suarez and Carroll will move all over the place and if the defenders don’t track them diligently we could see the Keeper coming under fire from all sorts of angels.

Needless to say, set-pieces and crosses will be their strong point if Carroll starts. Arsenal have to get their marking right and the Keeper should stay on his line unless the ball is very close to him. That way the striker will have to generate power and direction with his header and won’t have an open net to knock it into.

Breaking down the Liverpool defence will be a tough ask, especially if they drop into their own half in numbers. I expect a low scoring game and we might need the repeat of a Diaby special that won the fixture last time around. If Dalglish sacrifices one of his strikers for an extra midfielder it will end up as a midfield battle with few clear cut chances.

I’m hoping Cesc will be able to produce some of his magic to unlock the Liverpool defence early on.

The Scousers also seem a bit vulnerable down their left wing. Theo can be Arsenal’s big weapon in this game but he will have to be found with some quick passes that prevent the visitors from doubling up on him.

Reina is arguably the best shot-stopper in the League but I believe he is error prone when he has to come off his line. If the Gunners can put some balls into areas where the Spaniard has to come for them, it could lead to some mistakes and a goal.

Based on fitness issues, Arsene will have to make some tough and interesting choices. Most fans will want Szczesny, Djourou, and Song in the starting line-up but I’d prefer if they are not rushed back.

Arsenal have the NLD in just three days and then another game next weekend. Both are tricky away fixtures. It is better to ease the returning player back in because all the remaining games are going to be hard fought.

I’d make only one change to the line-up that won at Blackpool,

Lehmann – Eboue, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy – Diaby, Cesc, Wilshere – Walcott, RvP, Nasri.

If one or more of Szczesny, Djourou, and Song are fit enough that there is no risk in playing them thrice in eight days, they should replace Lehmann, Squillaci, and Wilshere respectively.

Wilshere has been excellent all through the season but Cesc-Song-Diaby is Arsenal’s best midfield due to the different qualities each one has. Diaby did really well in the last game and looks like he is coming back to form. I don’t think dropping him at this stage is a good idea. But Wilshere should start if there is any risk in playing Song.

Apart from the players this will be a test for the crowd. The twelfth man can make a difference either way.

Before signing off for the day I wanted to share this picture that says it all.

25 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Liverpool

  1. Black Hand Ninja says:

    Really like this blog, one of the best blogs about the tactics. Up there with Arsenal Column & Young Guns.

    Djourou would be useful to play, as he appears to have the athleticism to deal with Carroll, whereas Koscielny on a good day would be equal to Suarez’ trickery IMO. I think I would start Djourou. I would rest Wilshere also, Wenger should play Cesc/Song/Diaby combo. Diaby needs to have a good game for us if he plays, he will be essential to our success tomorrow if he plays well.

    • cupsui says:

      agreed great analysis…in depth. I agreed with everything until you mentioned not getting the “trio” back into the starting line-up. Woj is better than lehman and i’m sure they’ll have his finger strapped up good. Same goes for JD. HE IS A MUST 100%. Carrol is a real danger and his big frame is what is needed to defend the big man. Squid is too stand-offish and carroll would have a field day with that style defending. the only one i would consider being careful with is song. But i mean if they aren’t it they aren’t fit, but it seems as thought they should be. 2-0 to the good guys

  2. critic says:

    lolz…..great pic!!!

  3. nicky says:

    You lucky folk, able to attend the game tomorrow, please remember to give 100% support to whoever Arsene selects to play, throughout the match. No exasperated groans and silences when things go wrong and mistakes are made. Be the team’s 12th man with your backing and the final run-in of the season will reap a good reward.

  4. ifaskdfjalsjdf says:

    what does the picture mean??
    that even if we dont win anything for 50 years, we’ll still fill the stadium or something like that???

  5. zaragooner says:

    Great read as always..Shut Caroll and Suarez then we can win..

  6. Phil23 says:

    I’m not sure how much more rusty Szczesny will be compared to Lehmann… Sure Lehmann played last week but he was nowhere near 100%. We will surely see Szczesny in goal. I’d personally love to see Djourou too as we will have a much better chance at keeping Carroll quite with the calm authority of Djourou in the line up. Otherwise I would like to see Song start definitely one but not both. Song would be a very decent sub as he will surely stabilise the side to either launch more attacks if we are behind or to solidify the defence if we are winning. My line up:
    Van Persie
    Nasri Fabregas Walcott
    Wilshere Diaby
    Cichy Koscielny Djourou Eboue

    We must find the right balance between attack and defense early. Liverpool will come out firing and its about dampening their flame at first. Even if Wilshere and Diaby start off sitting deeper than usual giving Cesc even more space to drop deeper and control the game. As the game goes on i’m sure we will find that Wilshere and Diabys late runs will either win us the game or leave us open and exposed if made at the wrong time.

  7. WOLF says:

    personally i dont like fabregas playing in front of song and wilshere. i think he is better suited creating from deep like a xabi alonso or pirlo. i think our midfield should fabregas wilshere/song and diaby. with diaby in the more advanced role.

    • BergkampHenry says:

      i agree wolf. Fabregas was fantastic in that deeper role last weekend. and it allowed Diaby to be a bit more creative as he was not as confined to the defensive role.

      • santori says:

        I think the positions are (have been) more fluid and flexible than you think.

        If Diaby ventures forward, one of Jack or Fab will assist whilst the other will drop back a little.

        It offers us great threat and flexibility but the key to it is of course DISCIPLINE.

  8. D says:

    Considering Szczesny has had a week of full training I’d expect him to start tomorrow. JD and Song maybe not.
    One things for sure, with Squillaci and Kos in defense there is no way we’re going to stop Caroll.. period (no offence to the centre halves but that guy is a man mountain)… The Pool will look to break on the counter with a long ball to Caroll which he’ll easily flick on to Suarez… our men have to track Suarez and am afraid the highline wont help too much in this game considering the size of their striker.. This way half of Caroll’s threat is neutralized… In set pieces with Diaby and RVP getting back we must be able to cope fairly well…

    The real danger men are going to be Meireles and Suarez… Song must stick to Meireles… When we’re pushed into our own box Meireles can unleash a rocket from distance against which the keeper stands very little chance…

    On the attack it depends who starts on the left for them… if its aurelio then we go with theo else Arshavin… Whatever it is there wont be a parked bus from the visitors and this could be the most enthralling Arsenal – Liverpool clash in recent years…

    • D says:

      Song or Wilshere must stick to Meireles.. depending on who starts ofcourse..

    • Phil23 says:

      I’d rather that Koscielny marks Saurez… Considering what he did to Messi he is more than capable of keeping Saurez quiet. Our defensive mids should be looking to compress the space in between the midfield and the defense so that Meireles isn’t given space to feed nice little balls to Saurez and Carroll. If we sit deeper than normal and play like we do in away games (more of a classic counter attacking arsenal) we will create chances. If we just attack attack attack we could easily concede the first and its a big ditch to climb out of if we do that. Good luck Arsenal please win this game, our season depends on it.

  9. santori says:

    Good analysis Desi.

    I like what Song-Cesc-Diaby have to offer too (with the added benefit of resting Jack whose effort this season has been immense)

    Let’s hope the right Diaby turns up again for us.

  10. FoolishgooNer says:

    This is game is about self believe! if gunners believe starting eleven believe we Will destroy Liverpool. About thé tactics as usual Desi get them spot on. Nô matter who is available we should win this game and Not think about NLD! Too many of ourpoints dropped this season CAN be blaimed over thinking and over planning! Certaintly our manager is guilty of that. Thé game at hand minute infront of you thé half you playing and your current opponent needs all of our trams attention and focus. i also Line Wilshere coming In 65th minute and change thé game. I will enjoy this regardless of result! Cheers gooners. PS keep and eye on SuereZ vs Eboue scary thought.

  11. LFC Supporter says:

    Kenny will play with two tackling midfielders in Lucas and Spearing in the middle.

    Kuyt and Merieles through the wings (Thats the best we have now)and Suarez and Carroll upfront

    Break down the attacks and counter quickly

    I think the if John Flanagan starts again it will be interesting. He did well against Man City but is raw and young. Aurelio will be fit so left back should be ok

    I expect a scoring draw.

    I am not sure who I am supporting for this game
    If Arsenal can go on to win the title I do not mind Liverpool losing this game. However since we have beaten Man utd Chelsea Man City would like to add Arsenal and Tottenham to the list before the season ends

    Anyway let the games begin

  12. chpangemanan says:

    For the Mugmashers, Arsenal is their only hope this season to prevent the Mancs to take them over in the number of titles won.

    I was wondering whether they would……you know…….

  13. critic says:


    nobody is better than arsenal in throwing away games…..

  14. Vqmpre says:


    • critic says:

      the main point is that sacking wenger now will complicate things. In nutshell arsenal will be gambling with their CL place for the title.

      Let’s just endure another 3 trophyless season, then we can move on.

      Arsene has done so much for this club, we can at least do this for him.

  15. […] Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Liverpool A lot has happened since the sides met on the opening weekend of the Premier League. Liverpool have hit the […] […]

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