Pre Liverpool Q&A: This Is Anfield

Competition: Premier League

Next game: 20.00, vs Liverpool FC, Emirates Stadium, Monday 24th August 2015

This week the Behind Enemy Lines series gets the lowdown from Jack Lusby of Liverpool fans website This Is Anfield, as The Arsenal host premier league rivals at the Emirates on Monday.

 
What’s your most memorable game away to Arsenal?
We’ve not had a good time of it since you’ve moved to the Emirates, but I’d have to go for the 2-2 draw in 2013.
Ultimately a disappointing result but one of the first times we saw Jordan Henderson truly shine – his combination work with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez was top-class.
Worst memory?
Because it sticks in the memory, I’m going to say last season’s 4-1 loss. An absolute capitulation from the Reds – when Alexis Sanchez hit the third before half-time we knew we were in for a miserable afternoon.
Where do you think most LFC fans stand on Brendan Rodgers?
I think he’s got a lot to prove this season, and most were calling for his head at the end of 2014/15 – including myself. But since the owners have backed him this summer there is little to do but to get behind him.
He’s on his last chance though, I’d say!
How would you assess LFC’s’s summer business thus far and do you see Brendan Rodgers doing more before the transfer window closes?
Despite missing out on Memphis Depay, Liverpool’s summer business has been hugely encouraging. There are no bemusing, who-signed-this-one-off transfers and everything seems to have fit in nicely within Rodgers’ squad.
I’d say Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner are the two most astute signings, but Joe Gomez and Christian Benteke seem to have slotted in well and Robert Firmino is going to be an incredible player once he gets going.
I can’t see much more in terms of incomings this window. Perhaps a defensive midfielder if Lucas Leiva goes, perhaps a left-back on loan.
There’s plenty of deadwood to shift still, though.
It’s been another eventful summer at Anfield but do you think LFC will be stronger his season without Sterling, is the club going in the right direction?
Last season saw Raheem Sterling play all number of roles, and he was pretty much filling in wherever Rodgers needed him – using him as a centre-forward paid off, but it wasn’t ideal. Though losing Sterling is an obvious blow (I think he’ll be a world-class forward) the additions that Liverpool have made see the squad in a much healthier position without him.
Those suggesting Jordon Ibe can be an adequate replacement this season are wide of the mark, however. He is a fair way behind Sterling in terms of development, and it’ll be a season or two before we see him reach those heights – though I’m confident he will.
If you were a betting man where do you think LFC will finish and what would be your top 4 by the end of the season?
I’d play it say and go 5th. In terms of my top four, the first two games have blown it wide open, but I think Chelsea will turn things around and win it again despite Manchester City’s resurgence:
1st – Chelsea
2nd – Man City
3rd – Arsenal
4th – Man United

What do you think of Arsenal’s summer business and the squad?
I’m a big, big fan of the Arsenal squad. I think Arsene Wenger’s really put together a strong, competitive group and there seems to be a real harmony within the camp – I’d say the English core plays a big part in this.
In terms of signings, Petr Cech is still one of Europe’s leading goalkeepers and, despite some early mishaps, I think he will prove invaluable as Arsenal continue to build. You might still be a little short in central midfield and a striker would be handy, but I think there’s enough there for a concerted title challenge this season.

What do you think of Arsene Wenger?
One of the good guys, reports of his decline have been greatly exaggerated!
Who are your dangermen?
Obviously Philippe Coutinho, who has hit the ground running at the start of the season. You’ll need Francis Coquelin to pick him up consistently if you stand a chance of keeping a clean sheet on Monday.
Elsewhere, Christian Benteke has surprised a few with his all-round game, and he’ll be a handful; Clyne, Milner, Firmino and Emre Can also stand out.

Where is your weak link?
This one’s no secret: centre-back. Dejan Lovren is an extremely questionable first-choice selection from Rodgers, and his partnership with a decidedly weak Martin Skrtel is a major concern.
Attack the gulfs between those two and their full-backs and Liverpool will crumble.

Which Arsenal players do you consider dangermen?
I adore Santi Cazorla – there are few finer players in the Premier League, for me. Otherwise, obviously Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are the key men, but I’m also a big fan of Bellerin and Olivier Giroud.

Where do you think Arsenal can be exploited?
There does some to be a bit lacking in your build-up play so far this season, and I think that somewhere in that supporting trio Arsenal can be exploited – whether it’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Aaron Ramsey, something’s not quite right.
Your back line is pretty solid, but if Benteke imposes himself in between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny I think he can do some damage.

Which player wouldn’t you swap for anyone in the Arsenal team?
Coutinho. Hands down.
Which Arsenal player would you most like in your team?
Sanchez. Need I explain?
Name your line up for Monday
Not many changes from last time out I imagine, although Jordan Henderson’s injury issues are a worry.
I’ll say: Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Gomez; Can, Milner; Ibe, Coutinho, Lallana; Benteke.

Predict the scoreline and first goalscorer for Monday’s clash 
I’ll be reasonably optimistic and say a 1-1 draw. Giroud to score first.
Many thanks to Jack Lusby @jacklusby_ and Max Munton at This Is Anfield
You can follow the website here @thisisanfield
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