Arsenal travel to Anfield today to play Liverpool in a clash of two struggling clubs. Liverpool are languishing in 11th place, while Arsenal sit in a disappointing sixth. But the table is still so compact that the two clubs are only separated by five points. Both can revive their seasons, and this game could be a turning point for each side.
Theo Walcott’s Fitness
Arsenal fans have seen almost none of Theo Walcott this season, as his return from an ACL tear was abruptly halted by a groin injury picked up on England duty.
It actually takes some effort to remember a time when he was actually in the team. But Arsenal will unequivocally be better with his speed and eye for goal on the right wing.
Arsene Wenger said that there is a “slight chance” of Walcott being involved, but he will likely come on from the bench if he travels with the team. Hopefully he is sufficiently healed, because he could tear Liverpool’s ramshackle defense to shreds.
Brad Jones’ Performance
Brendan Rodgers recently dropped the out-of-form Simon Mignolet for long-time backup Brad Jones, who has not really been convincing between the posts thus far.
Rodgers curtly confirmed that Jones will remain in goal for the Arsenal game during a press conference ahead of the match, despite the Australian’s shaky performance against Manchester United last weekend.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the latest Arsenal midfielder to drop, following Arsenal’s victory over Newcastle United.
That leaves Arsene Wenger with very few options in the middle of the pitch. He only has Santi Cazorla, Mathieu Flamini and Francis Coquelin at his disposal. That is incredible, given the massive depth Arsenal have in midfield.
Wenger will have virtually no ability to add to the core of his side during the game, and he will have to pray that no one else gets injured. And Coquelin, who was recently recalled from loan, does not exactly inspire much confidence.
It’s getting to be that time of year again: The new arrivals from foreign leagues are forced to adapt to the strain of not having a winter break.
While Arsenal are not yet in the throes of the Christmas fixture period and have just had a week off, they are coming off the back of a very congested fixture list. Alexis has worked exceptionally hard in recent games, showing fatigue toward the end of some of them.
He will have to pick up some of the midfield’s slack against Liverpool, so he will be forced to run even more and do even more jobs. Brendan Rodgers surely knows this and will therefore instruct his team to target him.