When the fixture list was released, Arsenal probably would have expected to head into the Liverpool game with six points on the board.
In reality, West Ham came away from the Emirates Stadium with a win and the match against Brendan Rodgers’ side – on paper Arsenal’s first big test of the season – is suddenly even bigger.
I haven’t done the research to back it up but I imagine the number of clubs who have failed to win either of their first two home games of a league season and gone on to win the title is around zero. Monday night is huge.
It was all rather straightforward this week. Nobody is injured, nobody is close to being signed, and nobody had anything interesting to say in the press conference on Friday.
Arsène Wenger was pleased with the win at Selhurst Park and is now demanding a good run at home to launch a title bid.
“We know a successful season is linked with our home strength. This is an opportunity to show it,” said the boss. “We looked sharp at Crystal Palace. The result on Monday will be vital and we know it’s an important game.”
Really, there isn’t much to say. Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere remain out, with the latter the most likely to return soon.
Alexis looked sharper than expected last week and Wenger said he is now very close to being 100%, which is crucial as Arsenal need to go on a good run of form to make a statement.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott could start but Arsenal are likely to stick with the same XI.
Possible XI: Čech; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ramsey, Özil, Alexis; Giroud.
Liverpool have won their opening two games of the season, but with a bit of fortune. The opening weekend saw a late long range effort from Philippe Coutinho fly in against Stoke before Bournemouth were seen off by two dodgy refereeing decisions last Monday.
Nonetheless, Arsène Wenger knows the Reds will pose more of a threat than the one that Arsenal demolished 4-1 last time out.
“They’re a different team to last season,” Wenger said on Friday. “Confidence is linked with your last result.”
And both of Liverpool’s results so far have been good. Brendan Rodgers should field a similar team, though he must be tempted to integrate summer signing Roberto Firmino to inject more creativity into the midfield.
Captain Jordan Henderson could miss out through injury, in which case new signing James Milner would deputise and Rodgers could revert to last season’s back three system.
Possible XI: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Skrtel, Gomez; Milner, Can; Ibe, Coutinho, Lallana; Benteke.
I really don’t mean to exaggerate, as so many often do without even realising, but this game is massive.
All the players, and the manager, blamed last season’s slow start for the way the season turned out. Defeat to West Ham was a warning but we responded well and now must build on the result at Crystal Palace.
We could find ourselves six points behind Manchester City by the time we kick-off on Monday evening, and I don’t fancy playing catch up this early in the campaign.