Who should you be watching closely?
Thomas Vermaelen v Daniel Sturridge
Thomas Vermaelen seems to be back in a central defensive position which will please most Arsenal fans. As Daniel Sturridge has taken over the central attacking role from Luis Suarez, it’s highly likely he’ll be up against the Arsenal captain in a direct battle. If Vermaelen can retain his composure and shape, he’ll give himself a good chance against Sturridge’s pace.
Per Mertesacker v Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez is likely to start in a slightly wider position for this game but he will regularly cut inside and try to be involved centrally. Per Mertesacker has to do two things; impose himself physically and read Suarez’s central runs. If he can read his runs then he can get into position to cut the ball out or generally give himself more time against the Uruguayan.
Jack Wilshere v Raheem Sterling
This is not an obvious battle due to the different positions that each player plays. However, Jack Wilshere is one of the few Arsenal players who isn’t afraid to stick his foot in. When he’s not on the ball in a central position, expect to see him covering the side of the pitch that Sterling is occupying. Also expect to see Wilshere possibly pick up an early booking if he puts in a couple of heavy tackles early doors.
Santi Cazorla v Lucas
Santi Cazorla is the main man in terms of an attacking force for Arsenal. Everything goes through him and he sets up the majority of forward moves. Lucas is very experienced in terms of containing a player like Cazorla and it wouldn’t be a surprise of he sticks to him like glue. Lucas’ discipline will be tested as this is a battle which will go on throughout the 90 minutes.
Olivier Giroud v Daniel Agger
Olivier Giroud should get the nod to start for Arsenal following his heroics in the last Premier League match against West Ham United. He has the ability to dominate Daniel Agger physically. Expect to see Giroud drift onto Agger as opposed to matching up in a direct battle against Martin Skrtel. If he can do this relatively unnoticed then he could have some success.
What do you see as the key battles for this match?
image: © Matt and Kim Rudge