The third match into the 2017/2018 season, and it feels like a defeat at Anfield will send all and sundry into full crisis mode. While I am scratching my head at some of our on field and off field choices thus far, I am not ready to push the detonator, blow up any hope for this season and give up. There are too many variables to consider from now until at least the transfer window closes on September 1st.
That said, there can be no escaping the fact that a second defeat in three Premier League matches would be a huge hammer blow to the club, players and manager.
We have our issues no doubt but it's hard to shake off the feeling that perceptions may have been very different if we were dealt Manchester United's cards. Imagine if we had thrashed a poor West Ham United at home, a struggling Swansea City away and a Leicester City that we have already beaten at the Emirates this season. I imagine the mood around the fan base would be significantly better at this moment in time but that's a game of if's and but's, a game that every Premier League club supporter can play I guess.
The truth of the matter is that we have central defensive queries, we look to have structural midfield issues and we are squeezing in a player who has yet to commit to the club in favour of a more balanced team.
It is what it is and we have to do all we can to take something from Anfield this afternoon.
It is great that Laurent Koscielny is back in the squad, not only because of his importance individually but at present it seems as if Koscielny is the only natural centre back who Arsene has unequivocal faith in right now. I am very intrigued to see who else plays in that back three. If Mustafi comes out then it may give us some answers to the recent speculation linking him away from the club. If Mustafi keeps his place in the side, would you be surprised of Kolašinac was demoted to the bench in favour of either Bellerin or Oxlade-Chamberlain at left wing back? It's not something I would like to see but I can certainly see that happening.
Alexis Sanchez is back in the squad and I must say, I thought he might start the game on the bench but I don't think so now. The game is too important and if the player is fully fit, I think Arsene will want his end product available from the start.
If Arsène didn't want to take the gamble on Alexis from the start, I'd quite like to see a slight tweak to our team. Instead of playing two players behind Lacazette, I would like to see another midfielder brought in alongside Xhaka and Ramsey and allow Özil to be the one player floating behind our new signing. So the shape would be more of a 3511, giving us more protection in the middle of the pitch as well as another passing option for the centre backs to escape what will likely be a very energetic Liverpool press. Ox given a chance in midfield?
Now I think about it, I can imagine so many different line ups. Can see Welbeck starting up top instead of Lacazette in a bid to add physicality and power. Can see Giroud leading the line in a bid to play longer to avoid the press. Basically, anything is possible.
What I'd like to see though is pretty much what everyone has been waiting for. Lacazette darting around with Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez buzzing, creating behind him.
Mean Lean's Hopeful Line Up:
Mustafi Koscielny Monreal
Bellerin Ramsey Xhaka Kolašinac
I'm not particularly confident that we will see that line up neither am I confident of an Arsenal win. What I really, really don't want to see is Arsenal attempt to be patient and casually try to pass around our back line and give the ball away constantly, inviting pressure on us before we give up a goal from a silly mistake in the first 10 minutes. We've seen that too many times away from home in these big games.
But I'm hoping everyone writing us off will see us pull off something special. A little like the FA Cup final win against Chelsea with so many defenders out and pretty much nobody giving us a chance. Wishful thinking? maybe, maybe not.
Either way, I am going to be biting my nails until the final whistle. Let's hope we can do the business today and get something to build on.