Remember back in August, when Liverpool stepped on Arsenal’s early season form like a 9 year old kid steps on a bug? I don’t either, I’ve managed to block that out of my mind for the most part, but if you’re a masochist, here’s a reminder. Anyway, since then, this season has played out like the past few have - moments of brilliance wrapped in weeks of mediocre play and a few injuries just for fun.
It’s against this backdrop that Liverpool come to London for the reverse fixture of that August meltdown. In almost any other season, Liverpool would be on the fringes of a title challenge - other than Manchester City, they have the fewest losses - two - of any plausible title challenger. Their problem this year hasn’t been losses, but dropped points - their seven draws are second only to 19th placed West Brom’s eight this season, and those dropped points have seen a promising season turn as frustrating as Arsenal’s in many ways. They score a ton of goals, but they also concede a ton - 20 so far, the same as Arsenal, while scoring seven more.
Coming into this match, Olivier Giroud is out for an indefinite period - he’s having tests today on a hamstring issue, but realistically I wouldn’t expect him back for a month or so, given how bad it looked as he limped off. Francis Coquelin should be available, as should Shkodran Mustafi, though, so while it’s not ideal, the defensive side of midfield should be OK for this match. One game at a time and all that.
For Liverpool, Alberto Moreno (ankle) and Nathaniel Clyne (back) will definitely miss out, but Emre Can’s suspension is over and Joel Matip may play a role, so Liverpool’s defense gets that little bit better. Whether it’s better enough, I have no idea, but Arsenal definitely have the firepower to overtake it. The big question, for me, is which of the dodgy defenses on the pitch will buckle further.
Arsenal v. Liverpool
Emirates Stadium, London
Friday, December 22, 2017
11.45AM PT/2.45PM ET/7.45PM BT