Preview – Liverpool vs Arsenal.

Tonight’s stand out match comes from Anfield with the showdown between Liverpool and Arsenal, kick off at 8:00pm. Arsenal will be trying to extend their lead at the top of the table whilst Liverpool with be looking for an invaluable home win to kick start a run of form. Since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival Liverpool have been up-and-down as even though the German orchestrated a fantastic 4-1 away win at Manchester City, he has also seen his side lose against Watford and Newcastle among others. Last time out in the Premier League Arsenal staggered to an unconvincing 1-0 home win against Sunderland whilst Liverpool went down 2-0 at Upton Park against West Ham.

Going into tonight’s game, Liverpool will be buoyed with the returns of defensive pair Mamadou Sahko and Kolo Toure whilst loan signing Steven Caulker could make an appearance for the Reds having signed from QPR on loan on Tuesday. Jordan Henderson, Jordon Ibe and James Milner could also all be back for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Steven Caulker
Steven Caulker has recently moved on loan to Liverpool from QPR until the end of the season.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will look to recall stand out performer of the season Mesut Ozil after resting him for the clubs FA Cup clash with Sunderland at the weekend, this is the same scenario for Per Mertesacker who too miss the match due to being rested. However Alexis Sanchez is not yet fit enough to return for the Gunners, while Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere remain out for Arsene Wenger’s men.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “Arsenal and Arsene have their own style; it’s possession football, so it’s clear that if we want to play the same way we will be without a chance because they’ve been doing it for longer. Arsenal are not only a good possession team, that’s the problem, they have good counter-attacks too and that’s what you have to be aware of. It’s a job – but it’s a really nice job – to think about solutions and how to stop them coming through with their plan. I like things like this.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “Every time we go to Anfield, we face a team who is up for it. It’s always a ferocious battle, no matter who the manager is. They had a very strong manager before (Brendan Rodgers), they have a very strong one now and Klopp has the personality to do well there.”

A draw is on the cards tonight at Anfield in my opinion which will suit both Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp to be perfectly honest. A draw would see Arsenal maintain top spot regardless of if Leicester can get a result away at in form Tottenham whilst for Liverpool it would move them joint seventh with Crystal Palace and within striking distance of 4th placed Spurs.

Advertisements

January transfer window improvements: AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal.

The January transfer window is arguably the most important time of the Premier League season as teams are both strengthened and in some cases weakened for the rest of the season with make-or-break transfers being negotiated and completed before the 31st. As we roll into December it’s now time to look in-depth as to what crucial signings each Premier League side needs to complete over the crucial transfer window period to improve in the second half of the season.

AFC Bournemouth

Let’s face it, every football fan (unless you’re from Portsmouth or Southampton) likes AFC Bournemouth and what the club brings to the 2015-2016 Premier League season. Their recent history is nothing short of heroic, a sort of fantastic dream every lower league football fan has before waking up on a Monday morning disappointed. This season Eddie Howe and his men have shown real courage and a desire to stick to the slick passing style of play that saw them crowned Championship champions last summer even if the opposition they face this season have single players worth more than the Cherries whole club combined.

Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe has the footballing knowledge and tactical awareness to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League this season.

Bournemouth’s antics this year are a throw-back to a couple of seasons ago when Blackpool came storming through the Championship play-offs and started putting in gutsy performances against the Premier League big boys. Unfortunately however, but rather not surprisingly, Bournemouth are locked in a relegation battle and find themselves in the bottom three heading into the Christmas period but this isn’t through a lack of desire or passion, as seen in their 3-3 last gasp draw at home to Everton and their historic 1-0 win away at Chesea, but maybe due to a substantial injury list which includes the likes of star forward Callum Wilson and winger Max Gradel.

Where to improve?

Despite been hammered by Tottenham at home 5-1 and by Manchester City away, Bournemouth have usually lost matches this season by only the odd goal or so and have usually put in very credible performances in most matches this season. This shows that whilst Eddie Howe’s defence could always be improved, just like most other Premier League sides up and down the league, maybe investment should come in the form of a prolific striker who could steer the South coast team away from relegation. As mentioned before, Bournemouth have been extremely unlucky with the long term injuries of both Callum Wilson and Max Gradel, two key forwards whom were in great form for their side before their retrospective injuries earlier in the season. With both predicted to miss at least three quarters of the season, Eddie Howe needs to strengthen Bournemouth’s front line. For me, Howe should be looking for a striker with Premier League experience, a player that is known for top finishing who can stick away those chances created by players like Matt Ritchie at Bournemouth and for me it is key for the South coast club to avoid relegation this season.

Arsenal

In a season full of unpredictable twists and turns is it time for Arsenal to step up and win the title for the first time in thirteen years? Although struggling for form in the Champions League with loses to Olympiacos and Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal sit second in the league at this point of the season and are been tipped by many to win the title this year. The losses of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin due to recent injuries are a big worry for Arsene Wenger but with Chelsea out of contention, Manchester United struggling to score and Manchester City faltering, with a bit of invest the Gunners could quite easily capture the Premier League title in May.

Where to improve?

When will Arsene Wenger buy a solid, defensive midfielder?! I’m not even an Arsenal fan and it massively frustrates me. Don’t get me wrong Francis Coquelin has been in inspired form for Wenger this term so far but his recent injury is a worry for the Arsenal manager. Santi Cazorla has also been playing well in a deeper position, protecting the defence but it has since been confirmed that the Spaniard midfielder is set to miss up to four months of the season due to having surgery on a recent knee injury.

Cazorla injury
Santi Cazorla sustained a serious knee injury in Arsenal’s match against Norwich. The Spaniard could be out of action for up to four months.

For me, there are a few players that would really fit the bill at Arsenal including Lars Bender of Bayer Leverkusen and William Carvalho of Sporting Lisbon who both have a fantastic reading of the game and will protect Arsenals back four by breaking up the play in the centre of the park meaning the forward players can play without any defensive restrictions. I still believe that Arsenal too need a top striker. To be fair to Olivier Giroud he has bagged ten goals in all competitions this season for the Gunners but in my opinion this still isn’t good enough as Arsenal’s Premier League rivals have a better standard of strikers like Sergio Aguero at Manchester City. If they do want to bring in a top, in form striker this January, Arsenal will most likely have to go up against Chelsea for the players signature as the Blues are also struggling for goals so far this term. Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid or Borussia Dortmund’s rapid forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be options for Arsenal Wenger to bring to the Emirates in the next transfer window.

This week’s Premier League winners and losers. Week #1

WINNERS

West Ham United

What a performance and victory it was for the East London side as they beat potential title contenders Arsenal at the Emirates 2-0 thanks to goals from Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate. Despite being knocked out of the Europa League during the week by minnows FC Astra Giurgiu of Romania, West Ham played fabulously in defence all game to maintain the clean sheet and secure the clubs first win of the season.

Slaven Bilic sprang a surprise in his starting line-up at the Emirates by handing Reece Oxford his league debut, making him the seventh-youngest player to feature in the Premier League. However the 16 year old holding midfielder played extremely well on his league debut stopping Mesut Ozil in particularly going forward for the Gunners.

Claudio Ranieri

A dream start for the original Italian ‘tinkerman’ who was a shock choice to take over as manager at Leicester City after the sacking of Nigel Pearson at the end of last season. Leicester City have carried their form through the summer months into the new season after winning eight of their last nine games of last season to avoid the drop to the Championship.

Yohann Cabaye and Georginio Wijnaldum

Both scorers on their respective debuts, Yohann Cabaye and Georginio Wijnaldum gave great performances for their new Premier League teams Crystal Palace and Newcastle. Both players cost large sums of money for their teams this summer transfer window, the two players will hope to build on their performances in week one of the 2014-2015 season.

 

LOSERS

Arsene Wenger

The Gunners were up against an extremely well-organised side, but with the experience they have against teams doing various things to try to stop them in the past, they should have been able to cope. Arsene Wenger’s side still threatened and West Ham would not have won without their keeper Adrian playing well, but there was a reason why Arsenal did not create as many chances as they normally would at home.

West Ham set up in a diamond shape which meant all four of their midfield players stayed narrow and meant that Bilic’s side were weaker out wide, an aspect Arsene Wenger failed to capitalised upon throughout the course of the game.

Arsenal fans don’t worry though, the Gunners will be up there at the end of the season especially if another world class player is added to Wenger’s team.

Sunderland

Sunderland made a very poor start to the 2014/2015 season with a terrible performance and result, especially in the first half, in their 4-2 loss against Premier League rivals Leicester City. For a team that massively underperformed and struggled last season in the Premier League, a severe loss to another team likely to be around the relegation places come the end of the season was not the start Dick Advocaat wanted. Improvement is needed before the side entertain Norwich this weekend.

Thibaut Courtois

Belgium international goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent off for denying striker Bafetimbi Gomis a clear goal scoring chance during Saturday’s match at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea would go on to drop points at home as they drew 2-2 with Swansea, a rare sight for fans of the West London club.

Thibaut Courtois will miss their game at Manchester City after an appeal against his red card in the 2-2 draw with Swansea was rejected.

 

Daily Mail team of the week.
Daily Mail team of the week.