So now we have it. A face-off between two of the best academies in the country in the Fourth round of the FA Youth Cup. Arsenal came so close to meeting Liverpool in last season’s competiton but were denied by a late Manchester United goal in the semi-final at Old Trafford. Now they finally go head to head at Anfield tonight.
Liverpool’s youth squad is very different to the side that has won the last two competitions back to back. There are lots of younger lads in their academy now, but they are no less talented. The likes of striker David Amoo for example, cannot be ignored. And then there is the fact that Liverpool have home advantage and there’s sure to be a few of their supporters in the ground cheering them on. Even at this level, the prospect of playing at Anfield is very daunting indeed.
On the Arsenal side of things, it seems we are without Henri Lansbury, who has a glandular problem. Also Rui Fonte is out for three weeks with a broken nose, and Jack Wilshere is out too. On the plus side, we should see Nacer Barazite back, but the absence of Lansbury is key. Not only did he score a hat-trick in the last round but many of our passing moves flow through him and he is difficult to close down.
Paul Rodgers says the entire squad wanted to draw Liverpool, which says something about the immense self-belief and determination of the lads.
On the transfer front, rumours persist about Edin Dzeko, whilst it also appears that we are considering the option of QPR youth ‘keeper Liam O’Brien, who played for the u-18s on Saturday. Luke Freeman and Sam Byles also made their debuts in that game.
So, with kick-off nearing all we can do is hope for a result and it’s hard to predict an Arsenal win, but anything is possible in football.