Arsenal return from a welcome break to Premier League action this weekend against Liverpool.
The Gunners travel to Anfield in hope of exacting revenge for that 4-3 loss at the Emirates on the opening day of the season. However, I doubt it’s going to be straight forward, with both Arsenal and Liverpool’s form being pretty inconsistent.
So, what can we expect from the clash which sees one of the oldest rivalries in the Premier League meet again?
Hold your breath when Kos has the ball
Laurent Koscielny is just returning from the slight hamstring injury that saw him subbed off in the second half against Bayern Munich. You know, just before we lost 5-1?
Although Per Mertesacker is back in training and appears ready to play, I highly doubt Arsene Wenger will risk the lanky Germany, who’s been out since the beginning of the season after knee surgery, to play away to Liverpool.
Therefore, unless we see Gabriel, who’s not the best option, shoved in the hole, we’re likely to see Kos start and therefore be destined to hold our breath for 90+ minutes.
Granit Xhaka yellow card
At first it was the media being dramatic but now it’s a little concerning that Xhaka is picking up so many yellow cards. He’s only just returned from his four-match suspension after picking up a second straight red and he’s already picked up another yellow against Sutton in the FA Cup.
He needs to sort it out because teams like Liverpool will exploit that recklessness. If they can see a way of getting him sent off, they will.
Oh, and the commentator will probably mutter something along the lines of the challenge being “silly” no matter how un-silly it is.
Jurgen Klopp will be described as ‘eccentric’
At some point, the camera will pan to Klopp on the touchline, hopping around like a lunatic, flicking his hair and gurning. Whoever is commentating will then chuckle fondly before calling him “eccentric”, comparing his to a “mad professor” or something equally as imaginative.
I like Klopp, I really do, but he just looks insane to me. When Wenger does something similar, he’s “lost it”. When Klopp does it, everyone slaps their thigh and calls him a character.
143 mentions of Alexis and Mesut Ozil’s contract
Although Ozil was sent home from training early on Wednesday (unsure whether his mum had to come pick him up or not) and might miss out on the trip to Anfield, Alexis Sanchez at least will feature.
With the Chilean (and Ozil’s) contracts set to run out in 2018 and both of their camps keeping understandably quiet while negotiations are ongoing, it’s left to the media and pundits to fill in the gaps. And boy, do they love to fill in a gap.
Therefore, you can bet your bottom dollar that whether Alexis has a bad game, plays the match of his life, or even so much as farts, someone will bring up his contract and the fact that Arsenal have “simply got to keep him!”
As if we don’t already know.
People to speak as if this result dictates Wenger’s future
Whether Arsenal win, draw or lose, all eyes are on Wenger and his future at Arsenal. With his contract set to run out at the end of the season and the boss planning to make a decision in March or April, the media and pundits will relate everything they can to whether he’s staying or not.
If Arsenal lose, whether by a large margin or not, people will say, that’s it, he’s got to go now.
If we win, people will speculate that he’s staying.
If we draw, I don’t know, he’s moving to Leicester.
If he subs Alexis off, he doesn’t care and is therefore leaving.
If he kicks a waterbottle, he still feels passion so he’s staying.
If he smiles at Steve Bould, he’s staying.
If he stares into the distance dramatically, he’s leaving.
I understand that a lot of this is curiosity since we don’t know what’s going on but reading into everything like we’re all Sherlock-Bloomin’-Holmes isn’t going to do anyone any favours. Let’s just wait and see.
If we do lose, expect someone to unfold a crappy A4 piece of paper that passive-aggressively tells Wenger to leave right there and then.