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It’s up for grabs, now…….Thomas! From unclemikesmusings.blogspot.com

So, we come, in pretty fair fettle after 7 wins on the trot, to the first of the three most difficult and, possibly, season defining away games that we must surmount to win the Premiership for the first time in 19 years. Liverpool away. This has never been an easy trip for the Arsenal. Not even in ’89 which must rank as our greatest and most significant victory at Anfield where, as Lee Dixon has since observed, no-one expected us to win, let alone by the requisite 2 goal margin in their own lair, against the club that had swept almost all before it since the mid-70’s. But we did. While, unlike ’89, much work will remain to be done after this game and neither victory nor defeat will conclusively determine the destination of the title, a win on Sunday would maintain our momentum, enhance our belief (certainly mine) and be one more step towards that league title. Anfield is a big test for our young team.

Be under no illusion, the Red Scousers harbour a visceral hatred for the Arsenal and will be well up for this game. They have never forgiven the Arsenal for ‘stealing’ the First Division title at Anfield in 1989, effectively marking the beginning of the end of Liverpool’s dominance of English football. Although they did win one more First Division title in 1990, we took it back in ’91. Then our emergence in the mid 90’s as the only consistent challenger to Manure until the arrival of financially doped Chelski and Citeh in the mid noughties added to their angst as they declined. The outrage with which Liverpool and their fans responded to the Arsenal’s bid for Suarez was driven by their belief that they are our betters, notwithstanding 30 years in the top tier wilderness. Liverpool and their fans would like nothing better (apart from finishing in the top 4!) than to stop another team built the right way beating the-expensively-assembled-€itzens-of-(allegedly)-Off-Balance-Sheet-FC (© Lonestar Gooner) to the top spot. Moreover, a Liverpool win tomorrow would revive their faint hopes of a Champions League place and the financial boost needed to rebuild their ageing squad.  In contrast, a win for the Arsenal would doubtless bring flashbacks of 1989 and enhance fears that Klopp’s era and the recent renaissance of Liverpool FC as a force are coming to an end. They really don’t need any further motivation.

That 1989 victory at Anfield was extra special because it was rather an ‘exception to the rule’. Liverpool is one of the few clubs against whom we have lost more games than we have won. Since our first meeting on 28 October 1893 (a 0-5 defeat), we have won 82, drawn 62 and lost 94 games against Liverpool. In our 31 Premier League visits to Anfield we have won 7, drawn 8 and lost 16. Even in our late-nineties to mid-noughties pomp, a visit to Anfield was, more often than not, unrewarding. We have to go back 11 years for our last league victory there – an auspicious year as we won twice in a row, 2-1 in March 2012 and 2-0 in September 2012 in the next season. Since then we have recorded only two Premier League draws at Anfield in 2014 and 2016, plus League Cup draws in 2019, 2020 and 2022. In total we have made 9 league visits to Anfield since we last won there but, as Gordon Strachan once said, “The longer a record lasts, the closer it comes to its end!” When we went to Anfield in May 1989 needing a 2-goal victory to win the First Division, our previous victory had been in 1974 which was followed by 13 winless league visits. Summoning the spirit of ’89 could well be useful tomorrow.

Liverpool’s season has been poor by their recent Klopp-inspired standards and they currently sit in 8th place with 43 points, 29 points behind the league leaders (who dat?) and 10 points adrift of 4th place with three other clubs between them and that prized spot (did a wise man once say that there should be a ‘fourth place trophy’?). This season they have looked far more porous defensively and their rampaging fullbacks have regularly left their flanks exposed, while VVD has often looked short of the pace with which he once neutralised attackers. Last Saturday’s MotD produced an interesting statistic to support those observations: this season, after 27 games, Liverpool had conceded the second most ‘big chances’ per game, in the Premier League, at 3.0, behind only Fulham at 3.1 and ahead of Leeds at 2.9. That stat will look no better after their midweek performance against the Chavs. Their once imperious midfield has looked short of pace, power and energy and Citeh and Chavski both played through and round them with ease. Nor, apart from two games, have they been scoring goals with the unrestrained abandon of recent seasons. Salah looked off the boil early in the season and there is no doubt that Mane was missed. However, Salah’s form has since improved while Gakpo and Nunez appear to have found their feet recently.

Despite Liverpool’s poor season to date, the league table demonstrates a clear pattern: Liverpool have been poor on the road: 

P15 W3 D7 L5 F18 A24 Pts 16,

but, their home form remains very impressive: 

P13 W9 D3 L1 F34 A9 Pts30.

At home, they have drawn 1-1 with Palace, 3-3 with Brighton (take a bow, hat-trick hero, L. Trossard) and 0-0 with Chavski, lost only once, 1-2 to Dirty Leeds but have dished out 9-0 and 7-0 thrashings to Bournemouth and Manure respectively and beat both Citeh and the Magpies by the odd goal. At Anfield, Liverpool are no soft touch. There are no grounds for complacency based on the teams’ respective league positions.

I watched Liverpool’s televised midweek visit to the Bus-stop to see whether their flaccid display in the second half at the Emptihad last Saturday was repeated. Klopp made six changes from the Citeh game.  He rested Arnold, Robertson, Salah, Gakpo, Elliot while VVD wasn’t in the squad due to ‘illness’ – an exacerbation of his ‘asthma’, perhaps? Carvalho returned to the bench after an absence. Liverpool’s midfield of Henderson, Fabinho and Jones were regularly overrun by the Chav threesome of Kante, Fernandez and Kovacic and the Chav wingbacks were prominent in attack. Up front, Nunez played on the left, Firminho played a ‘false nine’ and Jota started on the right but Liverpool created little threat and Kapa was rarely troubled. On the other hand, the Chavs were able to cut through Liverpool’s midfield and defence with rapid movement of man and ball and had 4 clear-cut chances to score. Only the absence of a clinical finisher in blue allowed Liverpool to leave with a point. Salah and Robertson came on for the last 25 minutes and Milner and Gakpo with 10 minutes left. Notably, in the second half the Liverpool players rather ‘put themselves about’ earning 4 yellow cards – it should have been more. Fabinho was fortunate that his card came in the 74th minute after two previous offences worthy of a first yellow card (ITWGX?). VVD, Thiago and Diaz are apparently available again for selection on Sunday. I expect Klopp to select his strongest eleven, perhaps adding Thiago to the midfield, certainly bringing back VVD, Arnold, Robertson, Salah and Gakpo. They will try to blow us out of the water with Kop-encouraged assaults early in each half and, if the bus stop display is anything to go on, will attempt to neutralise our creative players with barely legal physical challenges. Expect Milner to appear at some point to kick those who have not been immobilised.

The news on Saliba is disappointing and Holding will be required to repeat the fine performances he has contributed since being called upon to replace the Frenchman. Capitola Rob (© scruzgooner) doesn’t have Saliba’s pace, silky movement and calming influence but he’s an able back-up and gives 100%. He will need to remain calm in the face of Nunez’s predictable playacting. Our only selection question is up front. Does Mikel play the first-choice threesome or does he pull off a surprise by playing Trossard in one of the front three positions? Saka was rested for an hour against Leeds due to illness and will surely return. Martinelli was on fire against Fulham and Leeds and is frankly undroppable. I think Jesús will also get the call. It is Easter Sunday, after all. So, I expect the following starting eleven and Leo, through no fault of his own (he too was superb against Leeds), to start from the bench:


White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko;

Ødegaard, Partey, Xhaka;

Saka, Jesús, Martinelli.

If the team can play with the verve and skill they showed in the second half against Leeds and avoid the ‘rabbit in headlights’ performances we have seen too often at Anfield, then they can win this game. Have no doubt, it will be hard. Liverpool will do everything they can to beat us and we must not only have every man at the top of his game, we must take the chances we should surely create – think Martinelli vs Arnold! Liverpool will double or even triple team our wide men and this should create spaces for Ødegaard, Xhaka and Jesús to exploit. I would have liked the option of Tomiyasu to stop Salah’s rampaging runs and cutting inside to shoot so Gabriel and Xhaka are going to have to be alive to Salah’s exploitation of the space that the peripatetic Zinchenko leaves on our left flank. Klopp is sure to target that space and KT3 may well be added to the mix as the game winds down.

I expect this game to be very tight but I don’t expect it to be scoreless. As is now usual, my Holic Pound is going to support Ukraine, but for those still helping Bookmakers to buy bigger mansions, Betfair surprisingly have Arsenal favourites to win at 7/5, the draw at a rather long 13/5 and Liverpool to win at 9/5. You can get 9/1 on 2-1 for the Arsenal and 25/1 on 3-2 at Bet 365. Good luck!

The result of this game will not in itself determine the destination of the title but it will certainly have some influence. Much like our visit in ’89, this is a big test for a young Arsenal team and an opportunity for them to show what they are made of. We know that this group can entertain and we love them for that. We know they have huge desire and have shown resilience and determination when called for and we respect them for that. Now, they have to show that they possess the steel required to survive the red-hot cauldron of Anfield and come away with a victory like the men of ’89. If they can do that, I believe that this Arsenal team has a great chance of lifting the Premier League trophy at the end of May.


Enjoy the game, Holics (if you can!) and Happy Easter!

63 Drinks to “Summon the Spirit of ‘89”

  1. 1
    Ollie says:

    Cheers, baff. Great preview, I fear this match but am also getting well up for it.
    Let’s do it. And enjoy the Jesus puns.

  2. 2
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks, baff. pretty much how i see it, the need to show the quality of our steel in the forge of anfield. let us hope the result is a keen blade with which we can scythe our way through the rest of the season.

    one quibble: i think kt3 might start, since our midfield ought to create enough chances without zinny’s roving feet. tomi on salah was one of the keys to the win i was fortunate enough to attend in october. let’s hope whoever is there for us is there for us…


  3. 3
    Trev says:

    Nail struck firmly cephalad, Bath, and thanks for all the research !

    After a week off, Easter Sunday is time for our young team to rise again and roll away the Anfield stone, while the travelling disciples sing the Kloppites off the terraces. No easy task for either bunch but ……..

    Come on you Rreeddsss, yellows, blacks …?😳

  4. 4
    And Lester says:

    Different class Bath, ta. (Did nothing to calm the nerves, mind.) Thingies crossed the boys are on top form too. UTA!

  5. 5
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks Bath,
    Repeating myself from the previous drinks, it is imperative that we remain unbeaten before the Citeh game, starting with this one. Thus I would reluctantly take a draw but still expect a 2-1 win for us.

  6. 6
    Trev says:

    The Rev AL turns up at Easter – when else ?! *waves*

  7. 7
    bt8 says:

    Fab preview Bath. Many Thanks and COYG!!

    Liked the scruz forge analogy too.

  8. 8
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Wonderful preview Bath! I feel that Arsenal team only needs to focus primarily on themselves while preparing for the opposition like any other match, play to their strengths, and not give much attention to the location or the history. It’s a very young team, dancing to their own drumbeats, and carry neither the weight of unreasonable expectations nor the burden of history. As long as they play with the clarity of purpose and the unity of spirit that have characterized our performances this season the results will come.

    Each match continues to be a self-contained universe of its own.

    I agree with your team. Even though Trossard had a hat-trick in his last outing at Anfield he would likely provide strength from the bench.
    Mikel made some cryptic remarks about one of the previously injured players may becoming available. I realized that it makes me hope for a particular interpretation of that remark. He might be just bluffing. 🙂

    Come on Arsenal!

  9. 9
    Rev AL says:

    Peace upon you bruvvah Trev. (I said “peace”.)

  10. 10
    Rev AL says:

    Oops “be” … altho …

  11. 11
    Trev says:

    AL, despite the ambiguity of your message, it’s good to see urine again 😉

  12. 12
    Rev AL says:

    Testing times AHoy! Wee gottah stick together. (Apologies to everyone else – especially Bath.)

  13. 13
    Trev says:

    A smelly wee from that pun gent fella.

  14. 14
    Lonestar Gooner says:

    Cheers, Baff! Another fine preview. ‘89 is indeed the defiant speerit needed. There are times to worry about your weaknesses, and there are times to make your opponents worry about THEIRS. If the lads stay calm and focused and hungry, the rewards will be had.

    On another note, I see the puns are already out. Good sign!😉


  15. 15
    Bathgooner says:

    Thanks fellas – the background reading was ‘ground footing’. Or should that be ‘foot grounding’?

    Great to see you in the bar again, Rev AL. A sip of Madeira for Easter, sir. Do drop in more often – we can always carry you out! 😉

  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    Nothing to add, Bath. You said it all.

    And great to see the Rev. Al in.

  19. 19
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Bath, an excellent preview. I predicted 3-2 in the reverse fixture and can’t see any reason to change now.
    Great chance for us to tomorrow and looking forward to the game, COYGs!

  20. 20
    OsakaMatt says:

    Just watching Spuds vs Brighton, both managers sent off and spuds being basically completely outplayed in their own toilet bowl. One of our best performances this season was to win so well at Brighton.

  21. 21
    OsakaMatt says:

    Oh, I jinxed Brighton, sorry seagulls

  22. 22
    Ollie says:

    Or someone paid the referee, Matt.

  23. 23
    Potsticker says:

    OM@20 Spuds have a manager? Who knew?

  24. 24
    OsakaMatt says:

    The result was certainly a travesty of justice.

    Let’s hope the Saints go marching on in the next game.
    Though I must admit the chances of that happening appear
    waffer thin

  25. 25
    OsakaMatt says:

    Conte knew, Potsticker, that’s why he had to go

  26. 26
    TTG says:

    All this tension and nine games to go ! Terrific preview Bath with some fascinating stats . I’m very unsure about this one . If I dream we might win I reproach myself for unwarranted optimism. But looking at the current Liverpool, we could take them down.
    Don’t write off Saliba from starting but I think Bath has the side spot on.
    Reluctantly I think it may end 2-2 but if we do win it creates huge pressure for the corrupt Oil FC who are likely to have to eventually hand the trophy to us anyway .
    COYG !

  27. 27
    BtM says:

    Excellent preview. Left me even jumpier than I was before I read it though.

  28. 28
    OsakaMatt says:

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    It was more about the message as to be honest I’ve never liked the song 😂😂

    Off to the opera today and then some Neapolitan fare to warm-up for the big
    occasion. I’ll have to remember about the fat lady singing.

  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    Osaka has opera and Neapolitan fare? Who knew?

  31. 31
    OsakaMatt says:

    And decent Italian wine to quaff while you
    listen to the opera too! Life is 👍

  32. 32
    Bathgooner says:

    Let’s do this, Gunners.

  33. 33
    Bathgooner says:

    Matt @31. How very civilised! Enjoy.

  34. 34
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks Bath for another great preview.
    Trips to Anfield always make me apprehensive. However the scousers have been pretty woeful this year but……Jota & Firmino are now fit and they do love a goal or two when playing us. Our boys are fearless though and should be capable of getting an overdue win there though draw will be an ok result in reality.

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    Top of the table Arsenal are 29 points higher than Liverpool so let’s see a demonstration of that clear superiority. 👍🏼

  36. 36
    Sancho Panza says:

    A great review and I have to admit some colly wobbles this morning.

    Here’s hoping we impose ourselves early on and play with confidence, speed and accuracy.

    The referee needs to remember that he is a bit part and not centre stage. And not ruin the game for either team’s benefit.

    Here is hoping. Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal like the old days.

  37. 37
    Las says:

    Cheets bath! Excellent preview again. I can’t wait for the kick-off. Though my nerve also kicked off :).
    Any win will do but I fancy a 3-2 win with a Saka double and a Jesus winning goal.
    C’mon Arsenal! COYG

  38. 38
    bt8 says:

    I like the sound of that game Las. 👍🏼👍🏼


  39. 39
    bt8 says:

    Not sure it’s worth my or the dogs’ time to watch Leeds v. Palace unless it’s to see how long Woy’s jowls have become. Off for a pregame walk.

  40. 40
    Esso says:

    Cheers Baff!

  41. 41
    Gooner_KS says:

    Ref is a real POS, but then again, as most of them when we play
    Keep calm Gunners, we’ve got this

  42. 42
    bt8 says:

    What KS said. We are the better team so let’s keep our heads.

  43. 43
    Esso says:

    Come on you Arsenal! Finish these cunts off.

  44. 44
    Sancho Panza says:

    It is so typical. The referee is biased full stop.

  45. 45
    Cynic says:

    Why, when you’re winning a game easily and have no need to get involved in anything daft, do you suddenly start winding the crowd up with next level shithousery?

  46. 46
    Las says:

    This is ridiculous. The referee just melted. It is utter madness.

  47. 47
    Cynic says:

    The penalty decision was rubbish, it was a foul on Holding if anything. Jota stepped across him and initiated the contact. But Paul Tierney is not a good ref, to put it mildly.

  48. 48
    Cynic says:

    Fucking bollocks. Threw that away.

  49. 49
    Cynic says:

    Rubbish, that. Great first half an hour then got involved in things we didn’t need to. I hate shithousery whoever does it and all this going down “injured” crap needs to stop, as does the niggly shit that got them all fired up.

    They didn’t “beat” us (ie take two points away) we beat ourselves. Annoying.


  50. 50
    North Bank Ned says:

    That was not good for the nerves. A point at Anfield is never to be sniffed at but having been 2-0 up, we should have taken all three.

  51. 51
    Sancho Panza says:

    Indeed we shouldn’t let them back in at 2 nil. Hope we learn from it.

  52. 52
    Gooner_KS says:

    2 points dropped today but we will come good at the game against Shitty
    F… the ref, utter sh…

  53. 53
    OsakaMatt says:

    Could have been worse, could of been better.
    Shitteh lost there so a point gained from that
    point of view but it hurt from 2-0 up. I won’t know
    really until the next game

  54. 54
    Bathgooner says:

    An absolutely enervating experience. We were SO good and in total command until Xhaka woke the crowd up with that crass stupidity. When Arnold banged him in the back he should have pulled a ‘Harry Kane’ not squared up to him. Total brain fart. Barring a couple of moments when with a bit more luck or a better pass we could have scored the third, Liverpool sugrfed the wave of crowd noise back into the game and but for the brilliance of Ramsdale would have won this game. Point won. On to the next game. Match Citeh’s results in the run in and match them at the Emptihad and its job done. COYG

  55. 55
    OsakaMatt says:

    Several good points and true Bath, but he wouldn’t be Xhaka if he’d done that, for better and for worse of course. Let’s take it out on West sham next up.

  56. 56
    Esso says:

    From 2 nil and cruising well pissed off not to take all 3 points. Will not hear a word said againstGranit. |Absolute top fucking boy. Want him in any trench I’m fighting in.

  57. 57
    Las says:

    I don’t know. Before the game, I would sign up for a draw like this. But even after all that happened, we could have nicked it. We had a promising contra when the ball was too long for Saka and that was an easy ball but we lost our mojo up then.
    And unfortunately, Zinchenko was not up to this task as he had a ‘hand’ on both goals.
    We were better with Tierny at the back.
    But hey, this was the best performance in ages, it is all up to the next one.
    Win the next match!

  58. 58
    Cynic says:

    Zinchenko is a funny one for me. I didn’t want us to sign him, as I thought he was dead average, but he has something in him that adds a lot to the side. But he’s still not our best left back (I know he does more than operate there).

    As for Xhaka, yeah he wound them up but so did all the play acting. The worst of it is, he woke up one of the most over rated players in the league, who up to that point had been the worst player on the pitch.

    I don’t know why we get involved in all this play acting and time wasting. As The Neviller said during the game, if you go at this Liverpool side at tempo you scare the life out of them, so quite why were trying to slow the game down when we were totally in command is beyond me. Think we’re trying to be a bit too clever sometimes. Just play the game. You’re walking it, so keep going.

  59. 59
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ramsdale was superb today. Not for the first time this season, he prevented us from falling behind more than once.

    I thought that when Arteta made the double sub of Jesus and Ødegaard that it was a mistake to take off two senior players whose nous and ability to hold the ball would be needed to see out the final 10-15 mins of the game. I can understand that Jesus might not have 90 minutes in him yet, but in that case, I would have left Ødegaard on, and shored up the defence with Tierney for Zinchenko (I know, hindsight!). When Kiwior came on, I thought to myself, if only it was Capitola Rob who was coming on to make a back three to see out the final 10 minutes in front of the baying Kop and not someone with just four PL minutes under his belt. That said, apart from his initial horrible missed tackle, I thought Kiwior did OK.

    Given the paucity of points we have taken from Anfield in the Klopp years (one to be precise), the fact that we are talking about this game as two points dropped shows how much Arteta has done with this team.

  60. 60
    Bathgooner says:

    Excellent points Ned. Agree 100%.

  61. 61
    TTG says:

    I’m violently agreeing with a number of posters.
    As is reasonably well known I have been critical of Xhaka in the past but I wouldn’t criticise him today. It was an inflammatory atmosphere and they would have got revved up by anything. Xhaka is a leader and a driver . We lean on him and while his judgment is often faulty I’m with Esso..
    I agree with Cynic about the penalty. Jota made that happen, he is an annoying little turd. Ramsdale was brilliant and I agree with Ned about the double substitutions . We needed Odegaard to stay on .

  62. 62
    Ollie says:

    I am violently agreeing with TTG…
    Yeah, the Kiwior for Ode sub baffled me, especially that early and at a time when I feel we were weathering the storm Ok and confidence was growing back (though Firmino coming on was what worried me first).
    Good points on that on today’s arseblog.
    Seeing that still of the late late possible chance is also painful. Would have been a perfect scenario after those saves. Still top of the league, I am left confused by yesterday, slightly down but not entirely hopeless.

  63. 63
    scruzgooner says: