#LIVARS: PROJECT RESTART

 

Premier League Odds

Liverpool versus Arsenal is usually always a fun, aesthetically pleasing fixture but it tends to be a one sided affair in recent years. Last season, Arsenal were quite frankly pathetic when up against the men in red and Arteta's tactics were almost as dodgy as the personnel, sitting off Liverpool and not even attempting to pose a threat.

There does seem to be a different air about Arsenal this season, a steely determination which has been instilled into the side through shrewd investment in players with character such as Ramsdale and Tomiyasu. There is also a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of players and where they fit or connect to one another. Liverpool is a massive test which will give a more accurate gauge as to just how much progress has been made.

In terms of selection issues going into this game, Thomas Partey has been declared fit whilst Xhaka remains ruled out in what is arguably a blessing in disguise. Liverpool seemingly have an injury ravaged squad with the likes of Robertson and Mane initially being touted as doubts but with late fitness tests they should be able to field their strongest XI bar Firmino.

Without further ado, let us dive into the tactics that will decide Saturday's encounter.


 
LIVARS LINEUPS
EXPECTED LINEUPS...
 

LIVERPOOL IN POSSESSION

BUILD UP PHASE

In their two encounters last season Arsenal had a pathetic PPDA of 27 PPDA - totally giving up the initiative and enabling Liverpool to build up possession with no pressure. Liverpool ended up with close to 70% possession in both encounters and scored 6 goals - so it is clear as day that Arsenal need to try and take the game to Liverpool. There is no guarantee that it will work but it makes no sense to just sit off when it clearly has not worked.

One of the major issues that Arsenal had in their lineup last year was using Lacazette as their focal point. He simply did not have the legs to lead the press as the leading 'presser' which explains why Arteta set his men up to screen only. Having said that, even with Aubameyang up front - Arsenal showed poor PPDA numbers this season against Manchester City. Arteta needs to fight fire with fire.


 
LIVARS LIV BUILD UP
ARSENAL NEED TO PRESS HIGHER UP THE PITCH
 

THE FINAL THIRD AND COUNTER ATTACK

Firmino missing is a blow for Liverpool. It has been evident for a while now that whilst Jota had a nice burst of goal activity when he first joined the club, he lacks that 'class' at centre forward which just elevates that attack to another level. Salah and Mane have to do more heavy lifting in the build up in the final third and are drawn in more centrally. Mane against West Ham was almost acting as a centre forward which played right into West Ham's plans. If he does it again in this game, Jota needs to hug the touchline otherwise Tomiyasu will just tuck in easily.

Arsenal's centre back pairing looks increasingly solid and on paper they're well equipped to deal with fast attackers who play predominantly on the floor. What has also helped them is improving the players behind and around them. Tomiyasu is a more robust and disciplined presence than a Hector Bellerin, and Ramsdale is far more aggressive and engaged than Leno. Lokonga and Partey as a pair are also their best midfield pair from a defensive perspective in a long time.

Thiago had a disastrous cameo appearance against West Ham but there is no denying that he was hugely influential in the last encounter he played against Arsenal. With their no pressing strategy, he was allowed to play the game on his terms and dictate the tempo. Arsenal will need to ensure that between Lacazette and Saka they find a way to put the squeeze on him.


 
LIVARS LIV FINAL THIRD
ARSENAL LOOK TOUGH TO BEAT DOWN FLANKS SO MIDFIELD NEED TO BE CREATIVE
 

ARSENAL IN POSSESSION

BUILD UP PHASE

By having Tomiyasu in the backline, Arsenal now can push Tierney further up the pitch and allow the right back to form a back three in the build up. There is fluidity with Lokonga more than happy to just pick it up off the centre backs or as we saw against Watford, Maitland-Niles drifting out into left back. Liverpool's press has been pretty effective against Arsenal but this is a radically different lineup in the build up and it remains to be seen as to whether it can withstand Liverpool's waves.


 
LIVARS ARS BUILD UP
TRENT CAUGHT IN TWO MINDS TO STOP ARSENAL'S BUILD UP
 

FINAL THIRD AND COUNTER ATTACK

Arsenal's attack is finally showing signs of chemistry and players are beginning to look comfortable and happy in the roles they have been given. Lacazette as a 10 has been a revelation. His ability to hold up play in deeper areas and connect with Auba, ESR and Saka has really brought these players to life. Fabinho has been in relatively mediocre form by his standards this season and this will be a huge test for Lacazette who needs to impress here to show he is the real deal in this role.

Van Dijk's 1 v 1 defending has been excellent recently even if it hasn't been reflected in results. What is more likely to catch him out is good positional play as he can be quite static at times and mark space rather than confront the closest player to him. This was evident in the recent game for the Netherlands and we saw this too against Atletico. If Aubameyang tries to run at VVD there will only be one winner but if he can showcase intelligent movement and works in tandem with Lacazette, there is definitely some vulnerabilities they can expose.

Saka has been in fine fettle recently and with Robertson saving his best performances for Scotland, there is definitely a possibility that he could hurt Robertson. Saka did not start in the last two encounters against Liverpool, so he is a unknown quantity in this fixture. It is important that Tomiyasu does try to get forward in support in order to free up Saka to at times drift inside in support of Aubameyang and give Roberston a two way threat to think about.


 
LIVARS LIV BFINAL THIRD
LIVERPOOL'S RIGHT SIDE LOOKS VULNERABLE AND BOTH MIDFIELDS LACK GOAL THREAT
 

THE PYTHAGORAS PERSPECTIVE

Arsenal are improving week by week and Liverpool do not seem to have title winning credentials despite looking in healthier nick that last year. Having said that, Arteta has shown no sign to date that he has come up with the right tactical formula to take on a Klopp side. I believe he needs to play a more aggressive style against Liverpool but am not too sure if he is ready to commit to that just yet. One thing is for sure, I believe it will be a closer fixture than before but still back Liverpool to take this.


 
 
 
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