Arsenal’s last Premier League meeting with Liverpool was an incredibly humbling experience. Amid the backdrop of uncertainty over the futures of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – who would go on to join the Reds shortly after – Arsene Wenger’s side put in an abject display at Anfield and returned to north London coming to terms with a 4-0 defeat.
That’s very much the crux of the challenge Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool pose; if you don’t match them for commitment and intensity, you’ll struggle to beat them. On top of that, the Reds boast so many attacking talents in good form right now – it speaks volumes that Sadio Mane isn’t an automatic starter this season – the whole team must be organised and prepared to defend as a cohesive unit.
With the January transfer window looming, those requirements will surely play on Wenger’s mind. Sanchez remains Arsenal’s most formidable attacking asset on paper but the Chile international just hasn’t been himself this season and particularly over his last five appearances, which have produced no goals and just one assist.
While even the top talents in world football go off the boil sometimes, Sanchez’s expiring contract inevitably leads to questions over his commitment. And when we recently asked Arsenal fans whether it’s time to drop the South American, the response was a resounding yes.
There’s perhaps still a fear of leaving out Arsenal’s top talent when welcoming a big six rival at the Emirates Stadium, but last night’s League Cup clash with West Ham did give Wenger the chance to at least consider the alternatives – the most obvious being Danny Welbeck.
In a cagey affair against the Hammers, it was the 36-cap England international’s strike that made the difference, poking home a Mathieu Debuchy knock-down from close range. That capped off a fairly productive afternoon from the winger-forward, who also produced three dribbles, created one chance and completed 97% of his passes as his athleticism and industry once again stood out.
So, Arsenal fans, ahead of a fixture that could well decide which slot in the top six the Gunners take come the end of the season, who would you start against Liverpool on Friday night? Let us know by voting below…