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The Great Bind: Arsenal v. Liverpool Preview

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This must be one of the rare times they decided to shoot.
This must be one of the rare times they decided to shoot.

You know you're twisting just like I am. While we'd all love to see another strong Liverpool performance against a top team -- in reality Liverpool only failed to turn up at Eastlands, were ok both times at Old Trafford, and were Konchesky-ed out of points at White Hart Lane -- you really have to debate how badly we do want to see one tomorrow. Because while good performances give us joy, the overhanging threat is being kicked off the throne of the English game, with #19 heading exactly where we don't want it. And Arsenal, however faintly, are our only hope that doesn't happen in a month's time (I think there's also the bonus of seeing the Arsenal model being successful, which is a method we're much more likely to follow than the City-Chelski-United spend until you drop one). So a win would be tainted, as it would end any hope, but a loss would have some cushion. I don't know where to go.

One would have to imagine we see the same Liverpool formation and lineup that opened a new orifice on City, and because of injuries there's probably little choice. Kyrgiakos would have a stroke by the 30th minute if he was trying to deal with Arsenal's guile and pace. It's that latter one that scares me. Liverpool, for all the improvement, have little pace. Only Suarez and possibly Spearing have any. Arsenal have it everywhere. If their passing game is on, you can see Liverpool players in a lot of Arsenal wakes. It makes for a long morning. Flanagan will assuredly retain his place, there's little alternative. After getting the ineffective Milner to look at, he'll get a much more stealthy and dangerous Samir Nasri to deal with, and Arsenal unlike City will not hesitate to test him early and often.

But Liverpool can threaten here too. We know Arsenal don't deal with with physical forwards, they all have psychological damage from what Didier Drogba has been doing to them for years. Even with the returning Szczesny and Djourou, that's not exactly a fortress of steel. Andy Carroll should provide some headaches, and they'll be bitching to the ref shortly after kickoff. He did score at the Emirates for Newcastle earlier in the year, and there's always goofy Gunners keeping to take advantage of.

If you're really seeking a Liverpool result, the fact that Arsenal are pretty much a group of bed-wetters will encourage you. They need these points desperately, but every time they need a result desperately they fill their shorts, overpass, never shoot, get a penalty shout turned down, and draw 0-0 or perhaps even lose it on a counter-attack. Or their defense is exposed early and they have to scramble to save a point. Either seems likely here, as with Arsenal pushing and pushing there's going to be a lot of space for Suarez to expose behind.

But the problem lies in that Spearing and Lucas are not going to run this midfield. With Fabregas-Wilshere-Song, that's always Arsenal's. And when Lucas is surrounded by quick passes and nippy players, he tends to foul a lot as he's always a step behind. Perhaps Kenny will shift Meireles more inside and go 4-3-3 to help out, though Meireles ends up inside anyway.

I guess depending on how you look at it, either result will please us, or it will upset us. We can never win, can we?