Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Saturday October 27 2007
As Andy Gray quite rightly puts it on SkySports.com, Arsenal's season could be defined by the events of the next week.
With Arsenal in the sort of form that hasn't been seen since the days of the invicibles, confidence is quite rightly high. But we all saw just how fragile-a-thing confidence can be when the greatest team to have played in the Premiership lost to Manchester United.
So, win and Arsenal are 9 points clear of Liverpool after just 10 games, and confidence continues to grow.
Lose, and who knows? But losing this game would pose a much bigger test than playing Liverpool and United winthin a week! It'll be a test of character, a test of maturity and a big test for Arsene Wenger.
If football betting was as straight forward as horse racing, you'd take one look at the form guide and back Arsenal to win. But we all know that nothing in football is straight forward, don't we?
It would be easy to point out that Rafa's tinkering has already started to take it's toll on Liverpool's Premiership and Chmpions League campaigns. It has, anyone can see that, but will it cost them when Arsenal visit Anfield?
Arsene's men are making all the right noises ahead of the game. There's no 'we'll go there and smash them.' Instead there is talk of focus and being up for the challenge that awaits the team.
The way the press have been reporting, you would think that Liverpool had been losing games for fun recently, but that's not the case. They are one of only two teams that are yet to lose a game in the Premiership.
Last Six: WWLDWL
I don't think I need to say too much to you about Arsenal's form. They've been unstoppable in the league and in Europe.
Last Six: WWWWWW
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez knows that he and his team have a lot of work to do if they are to get back to winning ways when Arsenal visit on Sunday: 'When you have had a few problems, the motivation of the side to change the situation is strong.
'The only way is to work, and work hard. That is the way to handle this sort of pressure.
'As a manager you must keep going, doing the right things. You know that will change things for the bette
Arsene Wenger believes that the major difference between Arsenal this season and last is defensive efficency shown this term: “What has changed this season is that we are less running after the score because defensively we are more efficient. Last season we were 1-0 down in 22 out of 38 games and chasing the game.
If you don’t come back quickly then your risk becomes bigger because you have to counter and push further forward.
“Overall I feel we have dealt with our focus this season. To play at the top level is to know that every game has a different difficulty you have to sort out. What I like about this team is that until now they have found the solutions to the problems within the game.
There has been no perfect game until now but we have found those solutions.”
Fernando Torres is set to return for Liverpool, along with compatriot Xabi Alonso.
Former Arsenal winger Jermaine 'well safe, innit' Pennant will miss out after breaking his tibier.
Left-sided player Alvaro Arbeloa is also a doubt as he continues to come back from a thigh injury.
Peter Crouch could partner Torres up front after his hat-trick against the Gunners in this fixture last season.
While I was tempted to put Sami Hypia as my player to watch, it would have been for all the wrong reasons.
Torres has been better for Liverpool than most, myself included, had predicted. His goal return would cause most people to question why Rafa hasn't played him more. At 23 he's not a kid.
He has the pace, power and ability to threaten Arsenal's backline. Toure and Gallas will have to be well on their game to keep him out.
It's not often I get to say this, but Arsenal go into the game with no new injury worries.
Robin Van Persie is still out with his knee injury, while Senderos is also continuing his comback from a back injury.
Arsenal's line-up is pretty predictable to a point. One question that I cannot answer is: 'Will Wenger play 4-4-2, if so, who will partner Adebayor?' Will he play Walcott again after his stellar performance against Slavia Prague? Or will the lethal Eduardo get another start?
There was no never another player that crossed my mind for this. With nine goals to his name, and countless assists already, he is fast becoming one of the best players in Europe.
He has the ability to control not only the tempo of a game, but the entire match. He'll play a massive part in any potential Arsenal victory.
He'll have his work cut out trying to dictate play and keep Gerrard quiet, but he has the ability to do just that.
How many players can make that claim?
A victory for either side would see them become the only team in the Premiership yet to lose a game.
A draw for Liverpool will be the 1,000th of the club's history.
Although much has been made of Liverpool's 'fantastic' home record, they have won only one home game this season. And that was against Derby!
The legendary Coward (Howard) Webb will officiate this one. It'll be interesting to see if he bottles this game as he did when he refereed Arsenal's Carling Cup final defeat to Chelsea.
Arsenal fans wont like this one. I'm going for a 3-1 Liverpool win. All the stats point to an Arsenal win, but I'm afriad that I can't see it.
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Date:Saturday October 27 2007
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|6. West Ham||8||4||2||2||+6||14|
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