Arsenal face Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in the Gunners first Monday match of the season.
Arsene Wenger is looking for his team to notch up their first win of the season against a top opponent, thus legitimizing their title bid credentials.
The manager provided an update on the status of a number of first team players. Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, and Danny Welbeck are all out injured still. Wilshere is the closest of the three to returning to the first team, with a return after the international break slated as a target date.
Wenger is likely to field an unchanged side after reverting back to the formation most successfully used last year. That means that Aaron Ramsey will feature on the right and Santi Cazorla through the middle.
It’s otherwise been a quite week for the Gunners. Quiet is good though in some cases.
Here is Arsenal’s most likely starting lineup versus Liverpool.
Goalkeeper – Cech
It’s difficult to say that Petr Cech has made a positive impact on the squad so far this season. He again gave up a soft goal against Crystal Palace. His positioning let him down and he didn’t seem to ever reach is full stretch when diving for the ball. It was a well-struck ball and in fairness, Laurent Koscielny should have closed down Joel Ward.
Cech is still adjusting to his new teammates. His performances will improve.
Right Back – Bellerin
Hector Bellerin is clear upgrade over Mathieu Debuchy at the moment. The Spaniard scored a wonderful goal last season against Liverpool. It’s unfair to hope he does the same, but a good performance should be expected at the very least.
Center Backs – Mertesacker & Koscielny
Per Mertesacker’s performance against Crystal Palace was an improvement over what we saw against West Ham the weekend prior. Koscielny hasn’t quite hit his best form, but that will come. The Frenchman has done an adequate job in the first two games and we saw more of his usual self against Crystal Palace last Sunday.
Koscielny and Mertesacker will be required to keep Christian Benteke in check. They did that very well in the FA Cup final in May when the Belgian was still with Aston Villa.
Left Back – Monreal
Nacho Monreal looked more comfortable with Alexis ahead of him and Cazorla in the center. Monreal has a good understanding with Alexis and Cazorla that serves Arsenal well.
Defensive Mid – Coquelin
Some argue that Francis Coquelin was lucky to stay on the pitch against Crystal Palace, while others argue that he rightly wasn’t given a second yellow card. Both arguments are valid, but we don’t need to get into it. The Frenchman’s performance was better last weekend, but he needs to continue improving on Monday.
Central Mid – Cazorla
Cazorla looked much more comfortable in the center of the pitch compared to two weekends ago against West Ham when he started on the left. Cazorla and Coquelin have a good understanding with each other, and for whatever reason their relationship in the middle of the pitch seems to be Arsenal’s best midfield combination.
Attacking Mid – Özil
Mesut Özil put in a man of the match performance last weekend. He responded very well after he struggled against West Ham. He set up five goal scoring chances, completed 54 of 55 passes, 37 of 38 were in the final third, and assisted Olivier Giroud’s goal that opened the scoring.
More of the same please.
Wide Right – Ramsey
Ramsey had a very good game against Crystal Palace. He exploited the space left in between Crystal Palace’s defense and midfield that was left empty by the movement of his teammates. Although he drifts centrally often, he does it effectively and the bursting runs made by Bellerin that overlap the Welshman ensure that Arsenal do not become too narrow.
Ramsey had an excellent game against Liverpool in the same wide right position last season.
Left Wing – Alexis
Alexis was unlucky not to score in the first 15 minutes against Crystal Palace. He had three shots blocked, one off of the line. His desire and will power was the reason Arsenal scored their second goal. He out jumped Palace’s right back, forcing Damien Delaney to make a hasty attempt at clearing the ball, only for the ball to deflect into his own net.
Wenger admitted that while Alexis is fit enough to play, he isn’t at 100% form yet. He is getting close though.
Striker – Giroud
There is an argument to be made that Theo Walcott is better suited to this match compared to Giroud. Walcott’s pace and movement will be troublesome for Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren, both of whom lack pace and mobility. Giroud’s link up play is better than Walcott’s but he would have to win physical battles against both Skrtel and Lovren, which could be difficult.
Wenger likes continuity though and considering that Giroud scored a well-taken goal last week, it’s hard to see Wenger changing his striking choice for tactical purposes. Walcott will feature if Giroud get’s roughed up or if Arsenal is chasing a goal.
Via – Lineup Builder