Former Arsenal ace and Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has predicted a defeat for his old club against Liverpool this weekend.
The Gunners have made a positive start to the new Premier League campaign, picking up wins over Newcastle Utd and Burnley to emerge as one of only two sides still with a 100% record.
However, they will face a big test early on with a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool this weekend, and it remains to be seen if they drop points for the first time this season or send a real statement of intent out that they are capable of competing this year.
Nicholas isn’t particularly confident going into the game, as noted in his comments below. However, he has offered some key advice to Unai Emery over six players who he believes must start on Merseyside to give Arsenal their best chance of coming away with something to show for their efforts.
“As a former Arsenal player, I’m dreading this game,” he wrote in his Sky Sports column. “I think Arsenal should play a back four with two protectors in front. I don’t want Granit Xhaka in the team, I would prefer Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi. They would give Arsenal energy and defensive qualities.
“Then I would want Alexandre Lacazette through the middle and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe to provide pace on the counter and make things happen, with Dani Ceballos just behind them.
“I’d have that line-up to give Arsenal a back six and then a front four that could cause Liverpool problems on the counter-attack.”
Nicholas did go on to concede that he believes Emery will adopt a more conservative approach, and while that would perhaps be the sensible idea for most, it could ultimately be playing into Liverpool’s hands.
In turn, it’s hard to disagree with the possible line-up noted by Nicholas, as it would give Arsenal a solid base on which they can try to keep Liverpool’s front three quiet, while also having the pace and direct threat on the counter-attack to cause the Reds problems defensively.
Time will tell what Emery goes with, but perhaps like many Arsenal fans too, Nicholas is anxious ahead of the showdown at Anfield.