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Liverpool V Arsenal

With little under four hours to go till kick-off at Anfield, there is none of Rafael Benitez usual talk of not needing a win at this stage in the season. Instead, the pressure is on, and Liverpool know they have to produce a performance unlike any of their recent performances, if they are to beat a seemingly unstoppable Arsenal team. Forget the Liverpool camp’s talk of ‘playing a good game’ against Besiktas. The performance simply wasn’t good enough.
Arsenal are bullish, and rightly so. Fabregas claims he will be ‘very, very angry’ if Arsenal fail to come away from Anfield with the three points on offer. With no new injury problems to contend with, Arsene Wenger and co have plenty of reason to be upbeat against Benitez’ men today. With Gallas back in central defence and the likes of Hleb and Walcott stealing headlines from the mighty Fabregas, things are looking good. That today poses the first real test in the Premiership is irrelevant.
Liverpool will be desperately disappointed to be missing Daniel Agger again today. As Benitez rightly points out, Agger offers plenty to the attacking mentality of his team as well as the defensive side of things. With neither Carragher or Hyypia fond of taking the ball out of their own half, Agger represents the only option at centre-back of a ball-playing defender, someone who is comfortable with the ball at his feet. That van Persie is missing is a bonus for Liverpool. With an ageing Hyypia and Carragher not quite hitting the form of the past few seasons, Liverpool’s defence is far less solid than it has been for the past few seasons. Torres will add more to the attack, and Gallas and co will certainly be warier of moving forward with Torres behind them as opposed to Kuyt or Voronin.
Pennant’s injury may see Gerrard back on the right-wing, although Benitez claims that he is approaching his best form (clearly he’s been watching re-runs of the last few seasons instead of the games he’s been attending this season) so he may prefer to keep him in his favoured position, especially after royally pissing him off by substituting the captain against Everton. Crouch had a great time at Anfield last season, hitting a hat-trick in a 4-1 win (this fixture has produced more Premiership hat-tricks than any other), whether he gets his customary 0-10 minutes or something more, remains to be seen.
A win for Arsenal would leave a 9 point gap between the two teams. A win for Liverpool suggests game-on. We’re gonna go with a draw.

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