With both Arsenal and Liverpool getting mid week results, the shellacking that Liverpool gave to Arsenal over the weekend should be remembered no more. This is a massive FA Cup tie that could help Arsenal secure silverware for the first time in nine years. With Liverpool having won Silverware just a mere two years ago, this game, though important to Liverpool, holds much more weight for Arsene Wenger’s club. The loss Arsenal took at the hands of Liverpool a week ago will still be lingering in the back of the minds of the Arsenal players. Here are five ways Arsenal should be able to right the ship against a quick and potent Liverpool side.
Shut down Daniel Sturridge
As shown in the last meeting, Daniel Sturridge ran circles around the Arsenal defense utilizing his speed to run in the channel between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Daniel Sturridge scored twice in the last meeting, with both goals coming on the counter attack after the Arsenal midfield gifted the ball to Liverpool. Keeping Daniel Sturridge at bay and not allowing him to find any gap in the Arsenal defense would be a good way to make sure Arsenal move into the next round of the FA Cup.
Mikel Arteta/Matthew Flamini need to control the center of the pitch
The signing of Matthew Flamini, even though it was not the flashiest of signings, has been the best signing of the season thus far for the Arsenal manager. Allowing both Arteta and/or Flamini to control the pace of Arsenal’s attack, as well as constantly disrupting Liverpool’s attack, is something that each of these players has excelled at all season long.
Arsenal’s attack finding the back of the net
Whatever configuration Arsene Wenger utilizes on the pitch, Arsenal will need to find the net more than they did in the last meeting. With a probable Oliver Giroud, Lukas Podolski, and Jack Willshire heading the Arsenal attack, the goals will need to be spread around the club like it has all season long.
Watch out for the Luis Suarez/Steven Gerrard/Philippe Coutinho connection
This past Sunday, we saw these three players take control of the match inside the first 20 minutes. Each of these players had a hand in creating at least one of the four goals scored at the outset of the last game. Keeping these three playmakers contained is a huge move in the right direction for Arsenal, who will need to keep the creative flow betwixt them at a minimum.
Which Mesut Ozil will be on the pitch?
With games being played so closely together, especially twice against Liverpool in a matter of a week, Ozil has appeared fatigued. Arsene Wanger will have to decide if he wants to have his playmaker play the full 90 minutes with the massive game against Bayern on the horizon. If Ozil shows up ready to play, and full of life, it could be hard to pull him off when he can have such a positive influence on proceedings. What happens, though, when he arrives and slumps around on the pitch as he did against Liverpool last weekend? Mr. Wenger will have to keep a close eye on him, as he could need to be rested for most, if not the entirety, of this match.
After the last loss, Arsenal will want to prove it was entirely a fluke and their defense can count as a strength and not a weakness. Containing the quickness and creativity of Liverpool’s attacking midfield is an absolute must if Arsenal does not want a riot at the Emirates on Saturday. In wagering a guess at a final score, I have to think that Arsenal’s defense will not be perfect, but they have to be better than they were a week ago, so I predict: Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool.