When I woke up yesterday morning I thought to myself: “don’t bother about City; they smash Southampton (who are terrible), it’ll be all on us for tomorrow, the media narrative will be set, just prepare for it”.

But as much as you can tell yourself that, as much as you know what will happen, there is still a small part of yourself – even if just a smidge – that will say “ahh…but..what….’if’…eh?”

That didn’t last too long yesterday and, in fact given that no game of a so-called rival went ‘our way’, it almost feels like unless we win today the universe is dealing us the most obvious ‘f*ck you’ to Arsenal fans that we’ve ever seen.

Do we deserve that? Are we that terrible as people that Man City, The Scum (who basically sold their souls to the devil to get those thee points against Brighton – ask anybody), Man United AND Liverpool fans should all be happy this weekend? Surely not!?!

Of course all of that is a little tongue in cheek, but having spent the entire week talk about the game today, having gone through all of the different stages of emotions you could imagine, we’re finally here and in a few short hours we’re going to have an idea as to whether it truly feels like “it’s on”, or that the footballing world is collapsing on top of us and those Arsenal players are buckling under the weight of expectation and pressure.

Of course either are just hyperbole. We have nine games remaining and if we win every other game aside from today we will be champions. You get the same points for Liverpool away as you do for Southampton at home, which we play in a few weeks and when that comes around will feel just as important as today.

But the psychological potential of victory today is massive. This Arsenal team has overcome nearly every obstacle it has faced this season:

  • Beat Liverpool
  • Overcome a blip
  • Win away at The Scum
  • Beat Palace away
  • Go on a winning run

I could go on and on but the point I’m trying to make is that this Arsenal team has shown immense character this season and come 4.30pm this afternoon, they are going to have to once again display that character in abundance against the Scousers.

This season Liverpool’s star may be fading, but that is because they struggle on the road, because at home they’ve put nine past Bournemouth, they’ve smashed United for seven, plus beaten City at home. This is a Liverpool side that loves its home comforts and if Arsenal can somehow get a win today it’d be just the second time – behind Brighton – that an away side has picked up all three points on the road.

It is for that reason that, if you offered me a draw right now, I’d bite yer hand off. We’re fighting for a league title and a draw at Anfield is no mean feat; get in there, get a point, get the hell out of there and look ahead to West Ham in a week’s time. Simple as that.

Mikel Arteta and his team can’t have that mindset though; that has to be reserved purely for fans like me, because we need them to arrive in Liverpool with an optimism and positivity about us that will enable us to play the way we have all season, with swagger and control. We will inevitably have to cede some control today, because Liverpool will most likely look to dominate ball and possession on their own turf.

Liverpool under Klopp over the years like to take plenty of shots and they are currently third in the league behind Arsenal and Man City. I couldn’t see the stats but it wouldn’t surprise me to see that most of those shots are at home, because they dominate play in front of their own crowd and put teams under a lot of stress. They’ve also rested players for this game; Klopp was happy to forgo any kind of result away at Chelsea for a statement win against us to show they will be back next season. Man City players and staff will be delighted I’m sure…

Liverpool’s plan today I suspect will be to try to bypass our high press with long diagonals. They have the most number of long passes made in the league and for years they have used that weapon of a ball out from Alisson to Salah as something to trap teams. They will 100% try that today and with Zinchenko vacating that space on the left hand side, there will be plenty of space that Gabriel has to cover. That is where I think our biggest worry has to be and that is where I think Liverpool will know they can get some joy.

But the other question mark that everyone is talking about is that Liverpool midfield. Does Klopp bring Thiago straight back in having missed the last 10 games through injury? Or does he ease him in by bringing him on for 30 minutes in the second half? I think he’ll go for the former and see if he can get a good 70 minutes out of Thiago; if he does then it could be a problem for us, because the Spanish international is a master craftsman with the ball and he’ll be able to distribute and build up attack waves for Liverpool.

Out of possession though, it will be interesting to see how we get on, because I feel like the trio of Partey, Xhaka and Ødegaard have more energy, cover more ground and have the potential to overrun that Liverpool midfield. If Liverpool dominate the ball for most of the game then Thiago will be key to them getting the win, but if our midfield can assert control, then there may be something there for our attackers to feed off.

The team pretty much picks itself to my mind; Ramsdale, White, Holding (unless we get a Saliba miracle), Gabriel, Zinchenko, Partey, Xhaka, Ødegaard, Saka, Jesus Martinelli. Perhaps that is harsh on Trossard, but you can’t not play that front three – they are the best three attackers at the club.

Trossard will get on the pitch and hey, he might even make an impact today (here’s hoping), but you have to start with your strongest and that’s what Arteta will do.

I’m not overly confident on this one, as I’m sure you can tell, but I’ve got everything crossed and I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised after so many years of going up there and getting battered.

Come on Arsenal! Let’s do this!