Counter could be intuitive for Arsenal in daunting trip to Anfield

Only discipline will do for Arsenal as they travel to Anfield tonight (Saturday) to take on league leaders Liverpool.

The Gunners have been atrocious from a defensive point of view this season, with no real improvement in terms of goals conceded on last season, and that issue will be in sharp focus against a side of Liverpool’s quality.

Simply keeping them out, when we have consistently failed to keep out teams of far inferior attacking talent this season, is going to be a huge ask, let alone finding a way to score goals against a side that has conceded just seven in the league so far.

The best way to do it? Extreme defensive discipline.

You could argue that attack is the best form of defence and, at Emirates Stadium with an Arsenal side in top form, an attacking setup may well be the better option. Not so as things stand, however.

If he is going to force a way into the top four, Unai Emery must find a way to marry attacking efficiency with defensive solidity – a combination that has so far eluded him. Injuries have hampered those efforts, no doubt, but so too have simple, avoidable mistakes.


In time, and with better personnel, those mistakes will be reduced, but, for the moment, they are likely to remain a feature of our play.

In order to offset those shortcomings, we must look to a different side to our game tonight and that could well mean playing counter-attacking football, with the emphasis on shape and efficiency in possession, married with pace on the break.

Unlike his predecessor, Emery is not averse to changing the way he sets up his teams so I would not be surprised if this is how he chooses to tackle the problems that will undoubtedly be posed by this Liverpool side.

We cannot start this one slowly, however. Liverpool make a habit of starting at break-neck speed and handing them an early advantage would give us too much to do to recover, particularly as we are shorn of the attacking options provided by Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mhikitaryan.

Even so, we have the players in Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make counter-attacking football work, and the midfield in Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, and Lucas Torriera to make a real scrap of it.

It may well be a huge ask for this side, given where it is in terms of its development and its transition, to get something from this game but, even if we don’t come away with the points, we must make sure the performance is right.

If the shape of the team and the intensity of the players are where they need to be, they will give themselves a good chance.

If they find themselves overawed and suckered into making mistakes, however, I fear the sort of ignominious defeat that marked the beginning of the end of Arsene Wenger’s tenure at the club.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s