The Reds/Gunners lead up: It’s a rarity nowadays to hear Premiership managers have something complimentary to say about another manager, and even go so far as to defend his decisions. It’s pleasant. It means two things: Jose Mourinho is definitely unemployed and there is some respect and respectability left in the footballing world.
Wenger has always been a class act, even through all the hand bags between him and SAF, so it comes as no surprise that he endorsed Rafa’s policies and acknowledged his accomplishments.
And speaking of Rafa’s policies, we can only guess at today’s line up. One thing is for sure though, Jermaine Pennant will not be playing. Tibial surgery will have him out of the line up for a while and Daniel Agger is still not match fit.
Torres and Xabi are both question marks for today’s game, and in a match of this magnitude where physical and mental acuity are paramount, it might be on the bench where they will stay.
It’s a toss up as to whether Crouchie will patrol the Arsenal penalty box today. It was a magnificent hat trick he put by Lehmann last year, but Rafa’s rotation hasn’t given him much playing time this season.
I’m almost certain that Momo will play. Rafa seems keen to use him as his attack dog and that is exactly what he’s going to need if he’s to slow down a dynamic Arsenal midfield.
I watched the 7-0 rout of Slavia Prague in the Champions League with a mixture of sheer joy and abject terror. Arsenal looks good. Almost too good. And it’s an almost injury-free Arsenal whose form is reminiscent of ‘04’s “The Invincibles” that makes its way into Anfield. It will take a Herculanean effort from Liverpool to upset the Gunners.
It can be done though. Red’s fans everywhere are taking heart in the fact that last year, Liverpool was the only side in the “top four” to beat Arsenal in the Premiership, hammering them 4-1.
But let us not be so swift as to forget the pair of January drubbings they gave us. There was the 6-3 thumping in the Carling Cup and then the 3-1 loss in the FA Cup. If last year’s contests are any indication, I don’t think there will be a paucity of goals today.
As for a prediction, I’d rather hang myself by my own giblets than give the Gunners a victory on Merseyside soil. I won’t be so brazen as to say Liverpool will handle Arsenal or that Anfield is a fortress or even that Stevie G is dangerous now that he has rediscovered his pre-injury form, but I think this is going to be Liverpool’s game. If they muster a showing like the one against Chelsea, it may well be Liverpool in third spot with a game in hand.