Saturday 18 November 2017

Dalglish eyes perfect chance to end Reds' Emirates hoodoo

Carl Markham

Liverpool may never have a better time to end their miserable away run against Arsenal, but manager Kenny Dalglish insists his team will not underestimate Arsene Wenger's side.

The sale of captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona earlier this week and the impending departure of Samir Nasri to Manchester City have added to the Gunners' mounting problems.

Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby and Armand Traore were joined on the injury list by Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou after the midweek Champions League victory over Udinese. And with new signing Gervinho and Alex Song also suspended for today's match everything is pointing towards the Reds ending a stretch of 14 away matches to Arsenal without a win.

Liverpool's last victory came in February 2000 and only two of that winning side -- Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, currently sidelined by injury -- are still at Anfield.

"Maybe we're due for a win," said Dalglish. "But it is not going to make it any easier for us because they have lost Fabregas, Nasri is unlikely to be playing and they have a couple of suspensions.

"It will still be a difficult game for us. Arsenal have been most football fans' second team because they play great football and are entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, they have not won anything for six years and that is the monkey they would love to have off their back.

"But they are still a team I have the greatest respect for. And so we go in there and hopefully we can make it as difficult for them as they will for us.

"I don't know how they are going to react, it is up to us to know how we are going to react. We can control what we do and we can compete against them -- that is all we can do."

Having begun their season positively with an excellent first half at home to Sunderland, Dalglish's side faded after the interval and were held to a 1-1 draw. The Scot insists, however, that fitness was not an issue, pointing to the fact that he fielded four debutants and two players who had been involved at the Copa America.

"The boys that played with the emotions and the magnitude of the task in front of them, for different reasons, it was understandable that the second half was maybe not as good as the first," he said.

"But we have no problem at all in terms of their fitness.

"We were disappointed with the performance because we can play better than that, but we have a lot more positives to take out of it."

One of those debutants last weekend was Jose Enrique, who was thrust into the action just over 24 hours after completing his £6m move from Newcastle.

The Spaniard believes he has joined a team who can regain their top-four slot and even win the Champions League again.

Enrique may only have been at Anfield for a week but it has not taken him long to spot the differences between his former and current employers. Since January, the Magpies have sold him, Andy Carroll (to Liverpool) and Kevin Nolan, three of their biggest names.

In comparison, Dalglish has spent more than £100m in transforming the squad during the same period.

"We have a good squad. They (Liverpool) had an amazing team before and they signed good players this summer -- me too," he joked.

"It is a different mentality and they want to have an amazing team again like the Liverpool before.

"That is why I am here. I am really happy because it is a dream just to be here.

"Both teams fight for different things. In Newcastle, there is a different mentality now, they don't want to spend a lot of money, but here they want to spend and be big again."

Arsenal v Liverpool

Live, Sky Sports 2, 12.45

Irish Independent

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