Another game day this evening, this time in the League Cup, but forgive me if I’m not too optimistic about the game tonight. It’s at Anfield, we seem to be on our knees as a club, we’ve got a captain who has gone radio silent and a manager who won’t actually show any leadership and take control of this situation.
Yesterday’s press conference from Unai Emery was pretty pathetic I have to say. I don’t know whether it’s because after that Sheffield United game I ‘turned’ on him and so now every situation that he presided over I automatically have negative thoughts relating to it, but I saw the comments and listened to the presser ahead of tonight’s game and all I could think of is that it’s just another mismanaged situation, from a man who is looking increasingly out of his depth as every day passes.
On the Xhaka stuff, I’m actually not that fussed if he doesn’t apologise, mainly because an apology does little for anyone. Those that have an issue with him won’t suddenly come out all-guns blazing in support, those that support him will wonder why he has had to apologise for getting all that abuse. Me, I just want him to get back to football and start delivering better performances in a better system, probably with a better manager.
What Emery should have done yesterday afternoon is he very clear in which direction we are going. Step one is to say one of:
- “He’s my captain. I back him. He will remain my captain. No more questions.”
- “What he did was wrong. I have spoken to him. He will no longer be one of my 869 captains”.
Not only that, but we’ve got a flip-flopping on Mesut Özil too, who suddenly is ready to be in the team and will probably play tonight. Your guess is as good as mine as to why he’s 180’d after telling us it was a decision with him and the executives to leave him out of the team entirely. Let’s not forget he was not even on the bench in the last two games.
But he’ll play today away at Anfield and so will a host of other rotated players I suspect. Remember when last season we had players playing across both competitions, with people praising Emery because unlike Wenger’s last season, there wasn’t a clear “A Team” and “B Team”. Well I suspect we’ll get some of that tonight which is bizarre, because some of those players who should be in the “A Team” are probably going to play tonight in the “B Team”.
Martinez in goal is to be expected. A back four of Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi and Kolasinac – given Tierney played on Sunday – is what I think he’ll go with. Then we’ve got a midfield that you’d think would have Willock and Torreira in it. Unless of course Xhaka is being taken out of the firing line at the weekend, which I don’t think he will, so I’d expect to see the ‘maybe my captain then and it’ll be Willock and Torreira in the base. Up top I suspect we’ll see Lacazette, then the three behind him will probably be Martinelli, Özil and then Smith-Rowe or Saka. In theory, it’s not the worst team in the world, but in reality this team, this squad, has looked like it’s on its knees mentally for over a month. A trip to Anfield is hardly the place you’d expect us to do anything special.
I guess some will argue it depends on who plays for Liverpool but Klopp won’t completely chuck in all the kids. He’s no mug. He’ll know that with home advantage and players flying high confidence-wise, he could take this Arsenal team, even with a rotated and potentially youthful sprinkle in it. The full backs will probably come out but he’ll drop Milner and Lallana will come in to the midfield, most likely with Origi playing along with the highly rated Brewster. But the rest will most likely have some time rested at first at least, with Klopp more than likely to name a stronger bench if he needs to.
So perhaps there is a ray of hope for us, if we’d have been playing with some momentum, but we look all over the place and all of the jokes about the “B Team” being more enjoyable and free-flowing seem to have evaporated after that Vitoria performance. The hope is that it’s a one-off because whilst I don’t think we’ll get through tonight, I do want to see us play better, more creative and attacking football this evening.
Maybe that is an Özil-inspired one, maybe it isn’t, but right now I just want some positives to talk about tomorrow morning.
Catch you then.