Arsenal vs Liverpool: The 2020/21 story to commence
By Alfie Cairns Culshaw (Chief Editor)
After one of the most dramatic Arsenal campaigns of all time last year, our new season gets underway this Saturday afternoon, as we take on Liverpool at Wembley in the domestic curtain raiser. If we lose, its a glorified friendly. If we win, its the second piece of silverware for Arteta and Arsenal in this month alone.
Last season was breathless. The drastic change in events, the plot twists, the chaos, the pandemonium and sheer frenetic nature of the 2019/20 campaign will make it live long in the memory for all gooners. There were so many different side narratives which contributed to the overall narrative arc that encapsulated Arsenal Football Club that Quentin Tarantino would be proud. From tomorrow, we start all over again, after just four weeks of rest. If it is anywhere near as dramatic as last season, we're in for one hell of a ride.
Unfortunately, it does feel like it'll be the least competitive Community Shield for some time. In a normal year, this fixture would be placed towards the end of the pre-season calendars, a week before the league season kicks off. Both sides would have had several friendlies to prepare for this encounter, on top of an extended summer off. These factors would then normally culminate in a relatively competitive game, feeling close to the intensity of a league game, in front of 80,000 plus fans in the national stadium. Not quite a friendly, but also not quite a fully competitive game. 6 subs instead of unlimited. Players at almost full capacity in terms of fitness. But 2020 is not a normal year.
Whilst Klopp has had his title winning crop back for a week or so more than Arteta, both managers have been working with a sparse amount of time ahead of tomorrow's showdown. Liverpool have now played two friendlies in their minimised pre-season, whilst Arsenal have been limited to just Tuesday night's 4-1 win over MK Dons, in which very few senior players were involved. In fact, Arteta's squad looks very thin coming into this game, and has been thrown into disarray by the reports circulating that a group of the senior squad are currently quarantining after either testing positive or being around individuals who displayed symptoms. The likes of David Luiz, Emi Martinez, Hector Bellerin, Lucas Torreira, Nicolas Pepe, Willian and Alex Lacazette were all notable absentees from the squad on Tuesday that travelled to Milton Keynes. Whether the reason for these exclusions was for the issue stated above, for fitness issues or due to uncertainty over their respective future's, we'll have to wait and see.
It'll be interesting to see how Arteta adapts his squad to these very impractical circumstances in which we find ourselves in. So much uncertainty around so many players futures, as well as our incoming transfer business becoming increasingly allusive, all contributing to this being a far from ideal preparation for the 2020/21 season. The first chapter in the new campaign's narrative is set.
Predicted Line-Up (based off pure speculation): Leno, Saliba, Luiz, Tierney, Bellerin, Xhaka, Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Saka, Nketiah, Aubameyang.
Score Prediciton: Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal