By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
Liverpool v Arsenal
Sunday 1.30pm – Sky Sports 1
Even though it’s actually Liverpool who go into this game one point behind Arsenal, the media seem to have nominated the Gunners as the crisis club of the moment. It’s a difficult tag to shake off. The combination of selling Robin van Persie to Manchester United and the subsequent missing a barn door with a banjo from his replacements has created an atmosphere of doom and gloom, but – shock horror -the situation may not be as bleak as the tabloids are telling us.
Liverpool can take heart from a good performance against the champions. Sadly they can only take one point away from it and for all the positives, they still gifted City two goals. However, despite the points haul, there is justification for the unwarranted levels of optimism that are seemingly mandatory if you’re a Liverpool fan. Brendan Rodgers is clearly instilling a style and system into his players and although there are likely to be bumps along the way, there is evidence of a coherent long-term strategy that was lacking under Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish. Even if it doesn’t involve the use of a £35 million striker.
Arsenal’s goalscoring drought isn’t as big a deal as is being suggested. It has happened before and they have some proven goalscorers who will start finding the net. Eventually. They may not be as sublimely talented as RVP, but they probably won’t be as injury-prone as old glasslegs, so maybe the overall difference isn’t as great as you’d think. Cazorla has taken well to life in the Premier League and even come out of a game with Stoke with his legs intact.
This has the potential to inspire one of those classic ‘everything is alright’ knee-jerk reactions from the media should Arsenal manage to win it. It was notable that Hearts had a fair bit of joy in the part of the pitch normally patrolled by Lucas and if Cazorla gets similar space, he will do damage. It’s hard to fancy Arsenal too strongly, but the 5/2 for an away win is tempting. Liverpool are moving forward, but they still look vulnerable at the back and are wasteful in front of goal.
The ‘I don’t like giving predictions’ prediction: Draw – Arsenal @ 7/1 Half Time/Full Time Betting