The importance of the upcoming clash between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC and be overstated given both the teams have made a fairly slow start to their league campaign. This match at Anfield provides both of them with the opportunity to kick start their League campaign.

In this feature, Liverpool fan Aditya Sharma (AS henceforth) and Arsenal supporter Sounak Mukherjee (SM henceforth) discuss the big game as well as the two teams’ prospects for the rest of the season.

AS: Other than the obvious loss of Luis Suarez, what do you think has gone wrong for Liverpool this season?

SM: First of all, it is an impossible task to replace or even try building a replacement for a player like Luis Suarez. He was not only a goal-scorer but also a frontman who decided the fate of games almost on his own, he made Sturridge and Sterling tick, he made Liverpool tick. From whatever I have watched of Liverpool this season, I feel they lack self-belief, the manager after all the work he put in last season, has failed to motivate this team. The injury to Sturridge is another huge loss which has been even more visible because of the poor form of Balotelli and even Sterling lately.

AS: Liverpoolai??i??s defense has been shambolic this season (even more so than last), and Arsenal enter this game on the back of two 4-1 victories. Do you think the London side would try to run riot on the Redsai??i?? goal, or do you expect a more vary approach from the team?

SM: Let us not get so upbeat about the last two wins, it is a great confidence boosting feet but we need to remember what happened here last season. We need to soak some early possession and be careful about going all-out against Liverpool, they might not have the same flair as last season but we know how shambolic even Arsenal can be at the back. So, no, I don’t expect Arsenal to go all bonkers into opposition half and get self-destructed.

AS: Do you expect Arsenal to start with Olivier Giroud or Danny Welbeck leading the line? What does each bring to the table, and who do you feel would be better placed to exploit Liverpoolai??i??s back line?

SM: I am almost certain we will see the trio of Wellbeck, Giroud and Sanchez starting for us. Giroud will be flanked by the England striker and our best player from Chile. Giroud brings in shape and stability to the team, it helps Sanchez and Wellbeck play their natural game instead of being thrown into the middle to play as the frontman.

AS: With Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck and Calum Chambers looking well ingrained in the first team, was this summer Arsenalai??i??s best transfer window in the past half decade?

Sanchez's goal was wasted as Arsenal let a one goal lead slip

SM: Alexis has certainly been our best signing since we tapped Laurent Koscielny from Ligue 2. He has been phenomenal for us, working hard and scoring for us when our strikers were not able to contribute in front of goal. Danny has taken some time to get into the mix but he is also very committed to the cause, he never takes anything for granted. If he work a little bit harder on his finishing, he can become a massive player for the club. Calum won’t play every game for us if the players are fit but he can be a player for the future. He has a problem with his temperment and pace as of now and needs to work on those attributes to become a better player. Honestly he is more suited to Center Back than Right Back.

AS: Do you see Wenger signing anyone in the winter window? If so, at which position?

SM: Oh of course he needs to sign a Central Defender. With Koscienly dealing with a very tricky achilles problem, Arsenal are almost playing with one recognized Central Defender in Per who has played every minute of Premier League and Champions League football for us this season since he started playing. You need to keep in mind that he played the entire World Cup too. I don’t think Arsene will look at any other area this winter.

AS: What might turn out to be Arsenalai??i??s Achillesai??i?? heel in this game? Or to put it another way, what are the possible weaknesses in this Arsenal side that Liverpool could exploit?

SM: It certainly has to be our big-game mentality. We are carrying a very obdurate monkey on our shoulders who doesn’t seem to come down easily. We seem to choke against the big guns every season for the last half a decade. We really need to come out of that zone and bring in a change to the trend. We need to be unpredictable, patient, ruthless and determined right from the word go.

I wish Liverpool all the best, am quite certain it will be a great game of football.

With roles now reversed, Aditya answers a few questions from the Liverpool point of view.

SM: A lot of questions have been raised about Brendan Rodgers this season. Do you believe he is still the man to take this club forward? What would be the minimum expectation off him this season?

AS: He is the man to take the club forward, I’m certain. The level of improvement shown by the team under him lasts season was incredible; to call that a fluke, or pin it all on Luis Suarez’s excellence would be naive. What we saw in Rodgers’ first two seasons is that, partly because he’s relatively inexperienced at the top levels, he’s someone who takes time to find his best team and approach. He tweaks and tinkers till he finds the right style and right personnel, and then the team prospers. This was always going to be an year of transition, with Suarez’s exit and the dire need for building a squad rather than just having a good first team. Sturridge’s extended absence has made things even more grimmer. He’s got a lot to learn, but I think the best thing is to hang on to him and see how he does next season. I wouldn’t mind it if he hired a defensive coach though.

Minimum expectation? 4th place doesn’t look likely now, and Europa League is more trouble than its worth. Personally, a finish at 7th or above is good enough for him to be given a chance next season.

SM: Liverpool returned to the Champions League after a long absence. Is it one of the reason why Liverpool have struggled in the league so far with the squad being stretched in both the competitions?

AS: I don’t believe so. Last season Liverpool were the underdogs, and the young players could shine without any pressure on them. This time around they were suddenly expected to be the messiahs who will restore Liverpool FC to its old glory days, and I think that’s taken a toll on some of them. Rodgers will need to do some man management, something he has done well in the past. Hopefully he can get the kids going again.

SM: Raheem Sterling has been shifted to a role upfront recently, with Mario Balotelli firing blanks, do you think Sterling could be a long term solution in that role? Is Liverpoolai??i??s lack of goals simply down to Suarezai??i??s departure and Sturridgeai??i??s injury?

AS: Liverpool are used to having pacey forwards up front. Last season, Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling played upfront and the team got used to that. They’ve been replaced by the far slower Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert. It’s a big big shift in approach, one the team haven’t been able to cope with. Shifting Sterling up front with Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho supporting has improved things in that area.

SM: What do you make of Liverpoolai??i??s summer signings so far? Do you feel that the club could have done better with the amount of money they have spent in the last two seasons?

Lovren has been extremely poor at the back.

AS: I think a lot of problems faced have been systemic, rather than being down to individuals. That being said, I do think Dejan Lovren and Mario Balotelli had been brought in for instant impact, something they’ve failed miserably at. Neither should be cast away as a complete dud this soon, but yes, their respective fees have not been justified. Adam Lallana had shown sparks of brilliance, but again, for the amount paid, perhaps fans had a right to expect more. Really my personal biggest regret is the failure to bring in Loic Remy and Alexis Sanchez, both of whom would have been great fits and would have given instant impact.

The other signings were more long term, so I’m reserving my judgment there.

SM: Is the 3-4-2-1/3-4-3 formation something Rodgers has been forced to use due to all the injuries or is it something you can see the club using regularly this season?

AS: Partially because of injury, but mostly it was just an experiment borne out of desperation. More bodies in defence, and Sterling up front and a faster transition from defence to attack is the idea, and so far it does look like an improvement. I don’t think it will continue once Sturridge is back though.

SM: Liverpool have won just two of their last 14 matches against Arsenal in the Premier League, do you expect this to changeAi??on Sunday? What according to you will be the key battle on the pitch which could decide the outcome of this fixture?

AS: I don’t think Liverpool can win this one. Not to be pessimistic, but Rodgers needs a few more games to fine tune the new formation. Arsenal have come a little too early I feel. Wenger on the other hand seems to have figured his best team already, with Giroud, Sanchez , Cazorla and Welbeck giving multiple dimensions to the attack.

The outcome will be decided by the battles out wide I feel. Just look at how United’s Valencia and Young managed to regularly deliver crosses into the box. Arsenal’s Sanchez and Welbeck, assuming both start out wide, will be backed by good full backs in Gibbs and Debuchy. Liverpool’s fate will rest on how they deal with that threat.

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