It’s not massive. But it’s big. If Liverpool concede the game to Arsenal today they will concede their fourth spot in the table. We’re only just halfway through the season so there are many more games to come, but with the competition so tight at the top, the five or six teams vying for Champions League places can’t expect to make up lost ground in the spring.
So, Arsenal have every reason to want to play their attacking football against Liverpool. A win is fourth place for them. Also, Liverpool’s defense, while getting better, is a counter-attacking manager’s dream.
But Jürgen Klopp will certainly be hoping to come up against a side that isn’t determined to pack ten men into their 18-yard box. More space in the build-up means more ground for Mohamed Salah to run into. It means more channels for Roberto Firmino to take advantage of. Liverpool can play faster with more open space and use their speed and guile to warp the brains of Arsenal’s defenders.
Former Liverpool midfielder Gary McAllister offers up his take on a Liverpool boon if Arsenal do indeed stick with their open floor plan.
“It’s a game that the players will look forward to,” said McAlllister. “It’s a magnificent stadium and the pitch is always first-class.
“I think Liverpool tend to do better, tend to do well, when they’re playing in a game where two teams are trying to win and obviously Arsenal need the points.
“They’ll be trying to take the points off Liverpool, so what you’ll find is we’re going to have a very open game and I think that might just suit us.”
You see, but it’s that “might just” that’s not all together convincing. Because, hey, it “might just” not. It “might just” drop us into fifth place. It “might just” launch us into the sun. WE. DON’T. KNOW.
Klopp will have drilled his players on Arsenal’s danger dudes and all their dangerous ways. Liverpool will press and fight for every ball. They will run a lot, more than maybe any of us have ever run before. But game management, intelligence, communication, these will be the keys for the players in the starting eleven. Get some goals, keep our heads. And that might just suit us.