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On Sunday, we entertain Liverpool in the Premier League for the 238th competitive fixture between the two clubs and our most testing game yet this season. After it, I fancy, we shall have a more accurate measure of where our ambitions for the season should lie.

The visitors have the better overall record, 94 wins to our 81 with 62 draws. We started the sequence dismally in the old Second Division in 1893-94 and 1895-96, losing all four games and failing to score.

We broke our duck on the opening Saturday of the 1905-06 season. With Liverpool returning to the First Division that season (our second in the top flight), we beat them 3-1 at the Manor Ground, initiating an 18-game unbeaten run against them at home in the league that lasted until February 1930. 

Bemoaning the first-half loss of Liverpool’s centre forward Jack Parkinson with a fractured wrist of sufficient severity to have him immediately taken to Woolwich Infirmary to have it reset, the Liverpool Daily Post opined that ‘there can be few who saw the game who will deny that Liverpool were the better side’, adding that ‘the Gunners were left distinctly fortunate winners by 3 goals to 1’. Nothing new in media antipathy towards us, especially when we win.

Your moment of history

The first of our three goals, a rapid response equaliser after Liverpool had opened the scoring early in the second half, came from John George ‘Tim’ Coleman. He was an inside forward whose goalscoring partnership with Tommy Shanks was instrumental in Woolwich Arsenal’s elevation to the First Division. He was sold to Everton in 1908 for £700 — serious money when the record transfer was only £1,000 — to ease the club’s financial woes (Nothing new there, either). 

Coleman retired from professional football when the First World War started. After the war, in which he won a Military Cross, he eventually pursued a successful, if largely forgotten, coaching career in the Netherlands— three league titles with different clubs in nine seasons in the 1920s and ’30s. He died in unlikely circumstances during the Blitz, fatally falling off the roof of an electricity substation in Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, onto which he had clambered to repair bomb damage. He was 59.

The opposition

Recent results have heavily skewed Liverpool’s way. We have beaten them once in the league since April 2015, the 2-1 home win in July 2020 played behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions. There have been a couple of other victories since then: the Community Shield at the end of the following month and a League Cup tie in October, both also behind closed doors and won on penalties. We have not scored against them from open play in our past six games.

Jurgen Klopp’s men will arrive on Sunday buoyed by an easy midweek Champions League win over Rangers. Yet in the Premier League, they have stuttered with two wins in seven games, although only the Mancs have beaten them. They sit ninth, eleven points beneath us with a game in hand. Caution is warranted over those early-week stats. After seven games last season, they had won only four, yet would still push City for the title to the end, losing only two of their remaining 31 games.

Klopp, the Spinal Tap of football managers, says his team needs to go ‘back to basics’ in defending. They have conceded nine goals in their seven games, against six in their first seven last season and 20 in their next 31.

In Virgil van Dyke and Joel Matip, Klopp had two of the top 10 centre-backs in Europe last season. This season, Matip is only newly returned from injury, and backup Ibrahima Konate is also only now back in contention after a long-term injury. Joe Gomez has filled in alongside van Dyke, who has been slow to get back to his best form. Konstantinos Tsimikas has had to deputise for first-choice left-back Andy Robertson, who is out with a long-term knee injury. Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has been exposed as the English Nuno Tavares.

Sadio Mane’s departure to Bayern Munich has unbalanced the front line more than might have been expected. Yet Klopp has plenty of fire-power to juggle with across 90 minutes in Luis Diaz, Diego Jota, Mohamed Salah, new boy Darwin Nunez and old hand Roberto Firmino. 

With Jordon Henderson, Tiago, Fabinho, and James Milner off the bench, Klopp has steel and experience in midfield. Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho offer youthful creativity. Arthur Mello, on loan from Juve, the Ox and Naby Keita remain unavailable.

Klopp played 4-2-3-1 against Rangers instead of his habitual 4-3-3, although he used 4-2-3-1 in 2018-19. Henderson and Tiago, as the double pivot, tightened the defence. Elliott, Carvalho and possibly Firmino offer the 10s the system needs. A rehearsal for Sunday, or a Klopp double bluff?

The Arsenal

We come off the exhilaration of the NLD win and a much-rotated team’s slightly disjointed Europa League win over visiting Bodø/Glimt. Klopp’s lot will be a different kettle of custard. Last season, we lost three of our four games against the bin dippers, drew the other one, and failed to score in any of them.

Yet, as TTG observed in his Tottnumb review, we are a much-changed team from last season; we should now be able to match Liverpool as a footballing side. Yet, this game will be won and lost in the mind. 

The mental resilience needed against Liverpool differs from that required in a derby match against the neighbours. Liverpool has become acclimated to winning against us, and we to losing to them. It is redolent of the Mancs at OT, where we lost the game, albeit being the better side for much of the game.

It is, as Arteta likes to say, ‘the moments’ that matter. We cannot let those get away from us on Sunday. That is what Arteta means when he talks of the need for consistency. 

Pace possibly Zinchenko, absent from the bench on Thursday, no new injury concerns prevent Arteta from starting the XI that put the neighbours to the sword:


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko

Partey, XhakaSaka, Ødegaard, Martinelli


Bench: Turner, Holding, Tomiyasu, Tierney, Lokonga, Fabio Vieira, Nketiah, Nelson, Marquinhos

The ‘holics pound

The bookies have a draw as the clear favourite and the odds on either side winning a toss-up. The classic 1-0 to The Arsenal (a scoreline not seen between these clubs since 2010) can be found at twelves, and a much overdue and history-repeating 3-1 home win at 20s. A nervy 2-1 home win, available at tens, may be the most likely outcome. 

This will be a testing game, but there to be won if the team puts its mind to it — and the faithful their voices behind it as magnificently as they have all season. 

North London forever.

Enjoy the game, ‘holics, near and far.

37 Drinks to “Klippety-klopp. Klippety-klopp: Scousers stomp south”

  1. 1
    bt8 says:

    Not really on topic but Matt Turner would do better to wipe that silly smile off his face.

  2. 2
    bathgooner says:

    An excellent preview, Ned with a slightly chilling historical perspective. You’ve made the pre-match nerves just begin to tingle!

    I expect a draw. Less will be disappointing, more will be delightful but as you accurately observe, “After it, we shall have a more accurate measure of where our ambitions for the season should lie!”


  3. 3
    scruzgooner says:

    love your articles, ned, thanks! the awareness of tim coleman is wonderous; you must have the monks working overtime again.

    can’t wait for the day to start tomorrow! one more sleep, hope it pushes jet lag to the back of the room.

  4. 4
    bt8 says:

    Excellent preview and historical tidbits Ned. 1-0 to the Arsenal for me with Saliba making the goal line clearance that saves the clean sheet. 👊🏾
    It will be interesting to see the difference Jesus and Zinchenko bring to our side seeing as both of them have played in City sides that have played and probably defeated Liverpool multiple times,I presume.

  5. 5
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@4: Jesus and Zinchenko’s records in the league against Liverpool are surprisingly mixed. Jesus played against them eight times for Man City, three wins, four draws and a loss; Zinchenko faced them just once, a win. They were both on the losing side in the FA Cup semi-final last April, the winning one in the 2019 Community Shield, and Jesus, but not Zinchenko played in both CL losses in 2018.

    scruz@3: the monks are always at your service. Have a great day out tomorrow with the ‘holics royalty.

  6. 6
    Countryman100 says:

    Usual terrific preview Ned. I live in hope for tomorrow. That Liverpool defence is not looking as sure footed as previously. We can do this.

    But tomorrow we have lunch for 14 before the game, ably organised by Bathgooner. Scruzgooner and Osaka Matt are safely in the country and putting their drinking boots on. It’s the Dave Faber memorial lunch. So looking forward to the day.

  7. 7
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Ned, a great review. I wonder if Tommy Shanks was nicknamed Long or Armitage.
    Might be a few goals tomorrow as they’ve been conceding early fairly regularly in the league. I’m hoping for a 3-2 win to go back top and celebrate meeting a goodly number of old friends for the first time.

  8. 8
    TTG says:

    Wonderful preview Ned . I live and breathe Arsenal but I always learn something new when you write! I’m so sorry to miss tomorrow’s lunch . I was able to get Scruz into the country by asking the authorities to lift their embargo on well known sex maniacs . Have a great time chaps and I will join you spiritually in a toast to the Great Man !
    Tough game, no idea how it will go but we have enough ability to win it at our best

  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@7: or even Pony…

    Tommy Shanks is actually a man of mystery, mysteriously sold to Brentford, then languishing low in the Southern League, at the end of the season in which his 24 goals had helped ensure Woolwich Arsenal’s promotion to the old Football League First Division for the first time. The club site says ‘financial concerns’ were the reason, though there is little supporting evidence for this explanation.

    After his playing days, which ended at York City in the Midland League at the end of the 1912-13 season, Shanks mysteriously disappeared sometime in the 1920s. He is reputed to have walked out on his wife with whom he had been running a pub in Brightlingsea, but no traces of him thereafter have been uncovered, save for a report that he died in his native Wexford in 1950 (though Wiki says he died in Billericay, but without attribution). He was, incidentally, the first Arsenal player to be capped by Ireland.

  10. 10
    Doctor Faustus says:

    The monks have this supernatural ability to surpass even the grandest expectations from them, Ned, and the Tim Coleman history alone is worth the read.

    Agree with your team, though I found the formation as laid out slightly quizzical. A 4-5-1 surprising thought might be, won’t be entirely unnatural I guess. 🙂

    Scruz, Matt, Countryman et al., best wishes with the ‘Holics drinking party. Faustus — père et fils — will be cheering you on as you cheer on Arteta’s Arsenal Army towards a long waited evisceration of this particularly unpleasant opponent.

    Come on Arsenal!

  11. 11
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@10: A slight formatting error. I think we’ll line up in that fluid 4-2-3-1 that becomes a 3-2-3-2 when we attack, with the left back tucking inside in midfield, Xhaka moving forward to join MØ8 and whichever of the wingers is playing less advanced than the other.
    Then back to 4-5-1 when we defend.

  12. 12
    Trev says:

    Excellent, Ned, another history lesson and a fine preview.

    I’m not going over optimistic on the scoreline this time – just everything crossed for any win 🤞🏻

  13. 13
    scruzgooner says:

    ned, om @7 et seq., given how he was sent away perhaps his nickname was “lamb”.

    jetlag sucks. but i’ve slept four hours, been up one, and am about to go get another four hours if i can.

    dr. faustus, i’ll be fuelled and fuelling on (irish) coffees all morning, (californian) wine and beer (and maybe negronis) in the midday, and adrenaline and beer from then on. and a full italian lunch where i get to share with everyone the presence of the inestimable mrs. scruz. 🙂 here’s to the spirit of goonerholic perfusing the day!

    as trev says, any home win will do.

  14. 14
    ClockEndRider says:

    Fabulous match preview, Ned. The Monks have been putting in serious overtime on the research front. Great effort.
    After my nighttime sojourn on Thursday in SW7 I have had the tickets delivered for the match and am preparing to meet Scruz and the estimable Mrs Scruz amongst a plethora of the great and the (not so) good at lunch time. Loins are being girded for the anticipated Negroni onslaught pre match. It is a far, far better thing I do now etc etc…..
    See many of you at lunch. For the rest, keep the faith. I must say I fancy us for the first time in many years agin the Dippers.
    Famous last words…..

  15. 15
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Ned. Great trip into the vaults. I’ll take any win. I won’t predict a score or red cards today. Just got a bad feeling but I hope I’m wrong. I tried tx until last night, at the end maybe more out of curiosity than opportunity as had no idea what trains are still available but there was simply nothing anyway. Generally when I don’t intentionally miss a match, we win, so there is still hope!
    Enjoy your day, scruz and all.

  16. 16
    scruzgooner says:


  17. 17
    Steve T says:

    Great stuff Ned. Many thanks

    It’s a beautiful day in London. Very much looking forward to a luncheon engagement with lots of Holics.

    Dippers to sent packing. I’m predicting a good day.

  18. 18
    bathgooner says:

    Let’s do this!


  19. 19
    bt8 says:

    Reading the drinks above has brought the sound of the Saliba song to my ears, and it’s not because I had a tequila all nighter. Might have expected requila to appear somewhere in scruz’s list at #13 though. 😃COYG

  20. 20
    Las says:

    Cheers Ned! Thanks for this very fine preview. I very much enjoyed seeing this game through the prism of history.
    I don’t know why but I always fancy us against the Mugsmashers. But I have to admit they were the better team in the last 5 years.
    It’s high time to turn the table.
    3:2 to the good guys.
    I fancy Xhaka and two Gabriels on the score-sheet.

  21. 21
    Las says:

    C’mon Arsenal!
    This is chance we have to take!
    I whish I could be there!
    We are The Arsena
    We are the best

  22. 22
    Noosa Gooner says:

    1-0 will do.

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thanks for the kind words, one and all. I hope the splendour of the Guv’nor’s memorial lunch is topped only by the magnificence of our win afterwards.

  24. 24
    bt8 says:

    2-1 at the half. Come on Arsenal.

  25. 25
    Las says:

    We need one more!
    Jesus please!

  26. 26
    Gooner_KS says:

    How many bloody elbows should Tsimikas use to earn a fucking yellow?!?!

  27. 27
    Las says:

    What is red card if not this! Tsimiskas must be out!

  28. 28
    bt8 says:

    Oliver should have doled out the yellows to Liverpool players in that second half but wtf do i care we are top of the league.

  29. 29
    bt8 says:

    And we beat Spurs and Liverpool in consecutive weeks. No small stuff.

  30. 30
    Steve T says:

    On the train home. The day started at noon. In between then and now we have been treated to good beer, great food, a wonderful performance followed by more beer.

    The real icing on the cake was the company throughout the day. Thank you, one and all. You know who you are. It was an honour and a privilege.

    To be honest, I’ve had worse days.

  31. 31
    Las says:

    You know what? We just did it!
    We are The Arsenal
    I am so proud 🙂

  32. 32
    ClockEndRider says:

    What Steve T said. A heck of a day. Pinching myself – did all that really happen today? Superb day out from start to finish.

  33. 33
    ClockEndRider says:

    And now time to go up the wooden steps to Bedfordshire to sleep the sleep of the contented.
    Night all.

  34. 34
    Countryman100 says:

    I’m just home as well. Superlative company at the ‘holic’s lunch and a truly great game to watch. So pleased that those who came from far flung parts, Osaka Matt from Japan and Scruzgooner from California, saw such a great match. I did notice when we got to the pub after the game that neither of them had much voice left. …

  35. 35
    North Bank Ned says:

    It was the singing wot won it. 🙂

  36. 36
    bathgooner says:

    As I wend my weary way too my scratcher I have three thoughts;

    Ned @23 you certainly got your wish, mate.

    Steve T @30, Nutshell, mate.

    and in the immortal words of FL8, That was fucking excellent.

    Lights out now.

  37. 37
    scruzgooner says: