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Arsenal vs. Liverpool

Emirates Stadium



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Arsenal v. Liverpool

When I wrote the Chelsea preview not three weeks ago, I expressed my disdain for the phrase 'must win game', but once again this weekend Arsenal has forced upon themselves another must win fixture against one more of the elite Premier League teams. After not building on the success of their last victory in a must win match, Arsenal is left to tackle another daunting task to keep our ever so slim title hopes afloat on Sunday.

Vital Quotes:

Arsenal's title credentials have rightly been questioned this week but Arsene doesn't seemed to be bothered. "Let them talk and [we will] play and show them that they are wrong," said Wenger. "They can talk as long as they want.

"For example last weekend we played Middlesbrough away, Liverpool played at home against Hull, Chelsea played at home against West Ham but when we made a draw it was a disaster.

"But at the end of the day Man United played a draw at Tottenham, we played a draw at Boro, it was not as bad as you could expect it to be because we were the first to play."

"We were away from home and maybe we were the ones, more than the other three teams, that deserved to win."

With January fast approaching it seems appropriate to post Wenger's latest transfer babble to the preview. Arsene said 'At the moment I am more to develop the team that we have because I feel when you look at our players most of them are under-21 players and there`s a lot to come from them. That`s why if it appears that we can make something special… at the moment I must sincerely say we have not seen anything special that can convince us we will be much stronger, so I cannot say that something will happen… but you never know.'

'Sometimes a signing can give an extra belief to the squad, and it can help even if on the pitch it`s not that convincing. We don`t reject it, but we cannot say for certain it will be done.'

Liverpool has a world class Spanish goalkeeper and he had his say on the game. 'Arsenal have great players and a good squad. They are able to do great things. They beat Manchester United at home and also won at Stamford Bridge, so we know it will be a really tough game.

'They probably do save their best for the big teams. The way they play their football probably makes it easier for them to take on the top sides, because they allow them to play their brand of football.

'Against more physical teams they have struggled a little bit because of that.'

He went on to say 'I think the title race is nine months long so I don't think we can talk about whether they are in or out of the race until the last five games of the season.'

Arsenal Team News:

Good news for Arsenal is that this game is against Liverpool, a top team, so Frenchman Samir Nasri will of course be fit for the match. He will return to the left wing to renew his excellent partnership with Clichy. Other than that there is really no new injury news to report. Bendtner is a doubt, but on his form that isn't really news. Kolo Toure, Rosicky, Eduardo, and Walcott are still out.

Possible Starting XI: Almunia, Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, Clichy, Denilson, Song, Cesc, Nasri, van Persie, Adebayor

Player to watch: Robin van Persie

The Dutchman reminded a few doubting Arsenal fans of his immense ability in the last Big 4 clash. He was visibly hurt inside to not play a significant part in the Champions League quarterfinal due to the nagging injuries. I think this motivation will see him take control of the Arsenal attack and lead them to victory.

Liverpool Team News:

Liverpool's main goalscoring threat will not play in this game, as Torres has been ruled out for at least one more week. Martin Skrtel is also out for the Reds, but everyone else is available for Rafa, with Fabio Aurelio back to fitness.

Player to watch: Steven Gerrard

With one half of Liverpool's two man team out, Gerrard will once again be called upon to put Liverpool on his back and carry them to a victory. Even though I feel he is somewhat overrated, there is no denying his quality. Once Flamini departed the European game at Anfield last season, Steve Me was able to grasp a strangle hold on the match and turn it in Liverpool's favor. Song has shut down Gerrard before, and he will have to do it again on Sunday.

Match Facts & Stats

Home and away

League (inc PL): Arsenal 58 wins, Liverpool 68, Draws 42

Prem: Arsenal 9 wins, Liverpool 14, Draws 9

at Arsenal only

League (inc PL): Arsenal 37 wins, Liverpool 20, Draws 27

Prem: Arsenal 6 wins, Liverpool 5, Draws 5

Clichy will be making his 100th start for Arsenal

Djourou will make his 50th appearance for the Gunners

Ref Watch:

Unfortunately Coward Webb has somehow managed to be named the head official for this game. He is no longer even worth me complaining about. He has managed 15 EPL matches this season handing out 53 yellows and 4 reds, giving him a 3.8 card per game average.

Match Prediction:

This will be a tight game, but sadly I was more worried about the Middlesbrough game last weekend than the game this weekend. If this was at Anfield I think Liverpool would nick it, but with it being at the Emirates I believe this Arsenal team will be at their best and Arsenal will win it. The players will be looking to exact revenge for last years CL exit.

I have been correct in the last two Big 4 match ups with a 2-1 scoreline, so I see no need to change a winning formula. 2-1 to the Arsenal. Adebayor, van Persie, and Gerrard to get on the score sheet.

Next Fixtures:

26/12 (Fri)- Aston Villa (A)- Premier League

28/12 (Sun)- Portsmouth (H)- Premier League

3/1 (Sat)- Plymouth (H)- FA Cup

The Journalist

Writer: Brice Coffer Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday December 19 2008

Time: 11:23PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
2-1 sounds good to me BC. i hope RVP and nasri cause a lot of problems to the reds. maybe cesc with a couple of assists. almunia has to watch the gerrard long range efforts.
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20/12/2008 01:01:00

We'll probably win, then lose the next 3
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20/12/2008 01:37:00

Why must we always do ***** the hard way ...... it's ageing me beyond my years I tells ye!
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20/12/2008 03:46:00

I'd been thinking we could beat them especially when they're without Torres. But Coward Webb? D@mn I'm very worried now! :s
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20/12/2008 07:15:00

Aurelio won't play tomorrow, he's still not 100% fit.
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20/12/2008 11:30:00

Adebayor is the Key player for me. Liverpool will probably play with 2 defensive midfielders and try and nulify the space RVP likes to work in. Be interesting to see if they play Kuyt on the right to stop Nasri or if they play with Benayoun? We must move the ball quickly (unlike last week) and Song has to just sit in and shield the back four against Gerrard.
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20/12/2008 11:54:00

Anyone seen the papers this morning? Funny how Wenger saw the penalty was a dive as he doenst see anything when its a Arsenal player at fault. He says Toure didnt touch him? Must be blind as well as seriously mistaken. He should be worrying about why his team can beat the best teams but fail miserably against the more physical teams as its not exactly a new problem is it. Usually have a lot of time for Wenger to be fair but to say Toure didnt touch him is a little silly!
5 times
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20/12/2008 12:19:00

It was a dive? it was also a penalty but Babel exaggerated the fall. Benitez is hardly whiter than white when it comes to talking about other players diving (remember him firing up Drogba before last years semi 2nd leg?) but not noticing stevie G's regular flying circus acts.
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20/12/2008 12:40:00

And as for Arsene concentrating on beating the smaller teams, have Liverpool not struggled against West ham, Stoke, Hull and spurs? Rafa has never even got close to winning the league and has regularly beaten top european teams so over Rafas tenure it is he not Arsene who needs a lesson on how to motivate against the lesser lights or maybe they could go to a class together!
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20/12/2008 12:45:00

iceman I agree mate I really do! Not sure it was a dive but he made the best of it. Wenger as been quoted saying Toure didnt touch Babel, he must be seriously blind. I also agree with your comments re our own failures but to be fair we are not getting beaten by Hull, Stoke, Fulham etc. Since Chelsea put all their money in it could be argued that Arsene has been light years away from winning the league too. Not having a go at Arsenal mate as I have a huge amount of respect for Arsenal and Wenger in particular. Just saying that he appears to be missing the point here in that if the CL exit ruined your season last year it appears you havent yet recovered. He should be concentrating on that in my opinion as opposed to blaming dives (Rafa should have done the same v Chelsea last year!)
5 times
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20/12/2008 14:11:00

He's probably been asked a question and just answered in an honest yet biased way. I think if he had just said we were very unlucky over the 2 legs nobody would have disagreed. Do you think you guys will win it this year? I reckon you should off load Keane and Bring in Santa Cruz! He would be perfect for you.
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20/12/2008 14:33:00

Being homest I think we wont. Not good enough to be honest. Done well upto now given the loss of Torres for a lot of games. Keane is also not good enough unfortunately but can't criticise Rafa on that as I thought it was a great signing at the time. Got a mate in work who is an Arsenal fan and was saying I think you lot may win the CL this year. Seems like you can't do anything right in some league games but come this big ones you get it right. Bit like us in 2005, mediocre in the league but pulled it out of the bag when it mattered. Think you are right re the question and Wenger's response. Have a good season apart from tomorrow...time to get on the lash with the lads!!
5 times
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20/12/2008 14:43:00

I'm just happy that Crouch isnt playing for them anymore. That bloke gave Arsenal nightmares every time he pulled on a reds shirt against us
Ozi Gooner
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20/12/2008 15:31:00

Lol at 5 times saying we haven't been close to winning the league since Chelsea's money. We won the league the first year Abromovich was there, unbeaten might I add, and last year we were 5 points up until late February and ended up four points off because of losses to Chelsea and United. Rafa would kill to have lost the Pl by 4 points in his tenure.
Ozi Gooner
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20/12/2008 15:35:00

in my opinion, Liverpool will again finish 4th this season. they have been really lucky with results at the beginning of the season, but all their shortcomings are being exposed in the last few games. whatever their fans or the experts say, just have a look at the league table in May. i'm really not confident about tomm, but i'll bet anything on pool finishing behind United, Chelsea & us. but anyway back to the game tomm, it's going to be really tough, it's a must win game for us no doubt, but i can't remember the last time we beat Chelsea, United & Pool in the same season..
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20/12/2008 18:15:00

lol Ozi, he is coming to Emirates next sunday..
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20/12/2008 18:27:00

lucky, you sound like a Chelsea fan with that cockiness. Of course, the season is nowehere near over yet but my honest opinion is that you should be looking over your shoulders at Aston Villa, who are in fact ahead of you. If I'm right in thinking you play Villa after the match against us, you must not lose both games, otherwise you've got a big battle to even qualify for the Champions League.
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20/12/2008 22:13:00

Aamir, Luckys said he wasn't confident about facing you guys and I don't know where that perceived 'cockiness' came from. Admitting that we weren't doing well enough at the moment, what Luckys was talking hopefully about was our league position in May. What you referred to was our current form and immediate challenges in you guys and Villa, which Luckys and I and a lot of Gooners would agree. I just wanted to say I'm not sure how anyone could talk about anyone's chances of qualifying for the CL just 17 games into the season, especially when the league leaders (not just Liverpool, but also Chelsea) have dropped points at home and nobody has convincingly run away with a solid lead in front. Don't get me wrong, your points were valid, I'm just saying that you and Luckys weren't saying entirely different things if we put things into context - which is shaping up to be a tight season where anything could happen.
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21/12/2008 07:22:00

Btw Luckys, it's interesting to me that the bookies see Chelsea as the favourites in the title race (1/1), followed by ManU (7/4) , Liverpool (4/1 - a bit high for the league leaders?!) and us as 20/1 outsiders. :D
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21/12/2008 07:28:00

GoonerLou, It's from luckys saying the following," but i'll bet anything on pool finishing behind United, Chelsea & us" I would call that being arrogant.
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21/12/2008 08:32:00

look Amir & JohnDoe, i really didn't mean that in an arrogant way or to ***** yu guys off, but i genuinely feel your squad is the weakest among the top four sides. i also know we are playing ***** at the moment, but there are still 21 league games left. and i really dont know where we will finish, or even have a chance to win it in the last few weeks, but i honestly feel we'll finish above you guys for sure. to me your squad just doesent have enough quality & your last few results have truly justified that. you may say that if that is the case, we dun even look top 4 material & yu may have a point there, but in my opinion & it's just mine, i dun see you guys finishing above us or united or chelsea, but about tonight, i'm really worried cuz i'm not sure what's gonna happen..
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21/12/2008 10:06:00

and Lou, yu gotta love those odds, i'm thinking of betting a 100 on us, cuz imagine if we do actually go on to win the league, i will be the happiest gooner in the world heheh. we should all bet on us winning the league, cuz we've really got nothing to lose besides a little bit of money, whereas the top 3 have a lot more than us at stake haha..
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21/12/2008 10:10:00

1/1 on Chlsea winning the League? I've never put a bet on and I don't really understand how the odds system works but surely that can't be right? Isn't it like saying 'give us ten pounds and if CHelsea win the League, we'll give you your ten pounds back? Lucky, that's your opinion so fair enough. My opinion is that you will finish fourth but we'll see.
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21/12/2008 11:29:00

you bet a pound you win a pound plus get back your original stake so 1 pound becomes 2.
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21/12/2008 11:57:00

That makes sense now. Thanks.
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21/12/2008 13:05:00

Its ok Aamir just dont go gambling your life away or il feel guilty! lol
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21/12/2008 14:06:00

I can feel a big performance from RvP today. As for the whole Liverpool debate, personally I think they could well finish above us. Wouldn't be surprised if they didn't though. They're just one of those teams in which, and this isn't supposed to be a dig at them, they have overall a pretty low quality but tend to just about get the job done. To be honest, I can just about see them becoming the least tallented bunch ever to win the league this year, just with some work and some luck. Hopefully not though.
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21/12/2008 14:18:00

low quality you mean by not playing fancy football like arsenal does? i agree we dont always play fancy but i would bet my life on it that every arsenal fan would rather have their team winning than to play fancy football and lose. you must know nothing about football if you think liverpool are talentless, liverpool have more talent and experience in their squad than arsenal have since henry left. our CL record proves it being in final's and semi's and even winning it in recent years. you can say all you want but luck doesnt come along every year. with our fast improving squad theres much evidence we will be regular title contenders where as arsenal is the opposite. dont get me wrong, i actually like arsenal and grew up liking them but if im being honest, they have slumped down the pecking order since your big players left and results from recent years proves this.
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21/12/2008 15:04:00

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21/12/2008 16:22:00

F*ck sake I knew that C*nt Robbie Keane would score. Great goal by Robin but long ball over the top again and we concede another goal, AGAIN! Simple mistakes that are expected at pub level but not Premiership level. With Villa winning yesterday we now HAVE to win and Cesc looks like he's picked up a knock too. GRRRRRRR annoying!!
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21/12/2008 16:55:00

Long ball, it was bound to happen wasn't it?
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21/12/2008 16:56:00

And I was right. Cesc off Diaby on. Brilliant.
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21/12/2008 17:04:00

Ah just what we need. Sigh..
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21/12/2008 17:20:00

Ade's arm did hit Arbeloa who did make a meal there.. harsh but it's Coward Webb we're talking about.
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21/12/2008 17:22:00

I can imagine Liverpool guys feeling let down for not winning the game facing 10 men and with multiple chances missed. But is it just me or are we having a hard time trying to swallow the HUGE sense of injustice too?!
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21/12/2008 18:02:00

My MotM = Almunia. And credit to the Gooners who gave Eboue/Nasri a round of applause when the substitution took place. I also wonder if we could turn that booing towards Webb/Liverpool (which was fair enough though) into some positive support towards our team somehow in the coming home games. Can the match-goers shed some light on what the crowd dynamics?
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21/12/2008 18:09:00

Yes you are right Lou, we do have trouble swallowing the injustice, but only because it seems to happen so frequently to us!!!! Lucas got away with murder today it was unbelievable! With regards to Adebayor I am *****ed off for 2 reasons 1) neither of those challenges were bookings in my opinion, yes he went over the ball but it was to shield the ball and he NEVER made contact with either of the players and for the second Arbeloa made a complete hash of it. And 2) Adebayor is in all my fantasy league teams!!! Baa Humbug!
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21/12/2008 18:51:00

I could live with Ade's first booking, but the second one, come on! Some of the match reports, e.g. the Times, said that 'the intent was there' ha ha eff-ing ha, just why a forward would intentionally foul a defender when he's shielding the ball for a decent chance is still beyond me. The boss was angry and rightly so. But I can see lots of non-Gooners calling him a whinger already, oh well. And haha, I got Cesc and Arbeloa in my fantasy team! lol
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21/12/2008 19:07:00

I don't know whether to be happy or disappointed. I admit Arbeloa made a meal of it but don't forget RvP with Riera,
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21/12/2008 19:17:00

And Keane with Clichy? And how did Lucas stay on the pitch till the end?
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21/12/2008 19:24:00

Funny to see Pique get a second yellow for jumping for the ball fairly with his arm even avoiding to hit Franco. The ref even punished Xavi for complaining about the harsh card, but Barca's the away team lol.
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21/12/2008 19:37:00

Arsene said Cesc could be out for 1-3 weeks... :(
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21/12/2008 19:47:00

Very surprised Liverpool did nothing to take advantage of their man advantage and playing a whole half without Cesc! It's like they were happy with the point after the first half! Fantastic result for us btw!
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21/12/2008 20:01:00

while i am not a fan eboue's i was glad to hear a decent reception for the guy today. I would have been proud of our lads if they had lost that game on their 2nd half performance today. I think this team needs the backing of the fans to have any chance for the rest of the season. They worked their arses off after Ade went off (a ***** decision IMO). We are supporters.. lets support from here on in.
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21/12/2008 22:15:00

how can you give almunia motm lou?? the through ball was down the middle it traveled a long way,if we are playing high up the pitch,its the goalies job to play on the edge of his box and sweep up...all he did was retreat and give keane the chance to latch onto the ball,if he had done what he was supposed to have done i.e come out and clear the ball,we would have gone into the break 1-0 up,his kicking was alfull as well
fran merida
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21/12/2008 22:20:00

I agree with Fran- Almunia had a decent game between the sticks but his kicking was embarassing. I remember at least three he sent through the other end including one promising position from the centre circle in the dying minutes, and he could have done more on the goal- just running out could have put Keane off stride. I didn't think anybody was bad, but RvP, Denilson and Song stuck out for me, as did Nasri when he was moved to the right. And Eboue's first touch of the ball was sublime!
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21/12/2008 22:31:00

liverpool should have taken the advantage when arsenal were 10 men down, it wasnt because we were happy with the point, it was because we couldnt. arsenal defended pretty well but if you look at the stats you would find it was liverpool who had more chances infront of goal. my opinion about the red card is it was maybe a little harsh. the first challenge was a foul but the second challenge maybe the ref saw ade's arm swung into arbeloa's face which resulted to a double booking. overall a good game to watch.
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22/12/2008 03:54:00

Yeah Almunia's kicking was bad, especially towards the end of the game. But he did pull off a few good saves to keep the score 1-1. RvP's strike was absolutely awesome and he worked hard overall. I just thought Almunia's saves had more impact on the scoreline itself - that's how I'd interpreted the phrase 'MotM'. But quality wise I do agree RvP was the best performer on the pitch.
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22/12/2008 05:18:00

I agree with Fran. I was also thinking that Almunia could have rushed out when Keane ran forward and put him off rather than just retreat. And his kicking was awful.
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22/12/2008 10:28:00


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