With Liverpool set to face off against Arsenal in the FA Cup at the Emirates tomorrow, we caught up with the Executive Editor of The Sport Review and Arsenal fan Martin Caparrotta to get his thoughts on the fixture.
First off, you probably don’t want to be reminded about last Saturday, but what sort of impact does it have on Arsenal going into this game?
I think that result had a big impact on Wednesday, when Arsenal were very cagey and clearly nervous against Manchester United. Defensive stability has been key to Arsenal's title bid so far this season so shipping four goals in 20 minutes was obviously a shock to the system. I expect Arsenal to be much tighter at the back on Sunday, as they were against United and in the games following their 6-3 loss at City before Christmas.
Arsenal have to handle a very crowded fixture list which has included Liverpool and Manchester United, with a clash with Bayern Munich following closely after the fixture on Sunday. Will Arsene Wenger look to use the depth in his squad n Sunday?
I'd expect so. Serge Gnabry could get a run-out. Personally, I'd also give Olivier Giroud a rest as he is clearly tired and maybe throw Lukas Podolski up front.
There’s been some questions raised about Mesut Ozil’s form as of recent. Do you think it’s simply a blip in form or something more serious?
I think it's just a blip. True, he had a brilliant start and has faded in recent months, but let's not forget it's his first campaign in England. I think we won't see the best of him until next season.
Speaking of which, who do you see as Arsenal’s key players going into the game, the ones which are going to give Liverpool the most to worry about?
I expect Podolski to play and he's offers a direct threat whenever he's deployed. Gnabry's pace can be hard to contain, too, if he gets a run-out. Ozil had a good game against United and will have a point to prove after a poor showing at Anfield, where he was caught in possession at least twice in the build-up to Liverpool goals.
And which players in the Liverpool squad are you most worried about coming up against?
Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have been brilliant this season and the fact that they have a combined 39 league goals between them tells you all you need to know really. I've been impressed by Sturridge's finishing, and Suarez can create magic at any moment. That absurd turn and shot that hit the post against Arsenal on Saturday is a perfect example!
He may not have managed a goal against Arsenal in either of the Reds Premier League fixtures, but given Luis Suarez’s form, are you upset you missed out on him in the summer?
I think it's not unrealistic to say that with Suarez, Arsenal would be well on course to wrapping up the Premier League title this season. So from that perspective, yes. Any team would be improved by his presence and he looks to have got his head down and steered clear of controversy this season, too.
The Gunners may not have put in the best performances against Liverpool and United, but you must still be happy with the way the season is going so far? Do you think you have enough to win the title?
Absolutely. Most Arsenal fans will feel disappointed by the recent results, but when you look at the bigger picture, it's clear progress has been made from last season. As supporters, that's what you want to see. Sometimes you need to take a step back to realise you've taken a step forwards. That said, nine years without a trophy doesn't sound great.
What do you think of Liverpool’s season so far? Are they title contenders or just battling to get a top four place?
It's in their own hands. They're four points off the top of the table with 12 games to go and are competing with teams who will now also have to contend with the Champions League. They also have the advantage of welcoming City and Chelsea to Anfield, so in my opinion they're right in the mix. Whether they can show the consistency needed to actually get themselves over the line remains to be seen, but you can't say they don't have a chance.
Finally, can we have a score prediction?
3-1 to Arsenal.