Gary Neville has advised Arsenal boss Unai Emery to go with experience over youth when they face Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday evening.
The Gunners and Merseyside giants are the only two sides with a 100% record after two games of the Premier League season, but one of them will drop points for the first time this weekend.
Arsenal have impressed thus far with wins over Newcastle Utd and Burnley, and Emery has shown his faith in young players such as Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock to help them get those results.
However, Neville has warned the Spaniard that he can’t afford to face Liverpool with the same side, and has urged him to make changes to bring his more senior players in to offer that bit of experience and calmness to help them leave Anfield with something to show for their efforts.
“Arsenal have got a poor record and every time I’ve watched them in the last few years it feels a bit to me like they lack competitiveness at times, they melt,” Neville said, as quoted by the Mirror. “They’ve got four Under-21s in that team: (Ainsley) Maitland-Niles, (Matteo) Guendouzi, Willock and Nelson.
“This is not a kindergarten place, Anfield, you need to go with a little bit of experience and I think some of the players on the bench [last week] and maybe Xhaka need to come in.
“It was just too much, it’s intense, it’s hostile, it’s fast, it’s furious. Liverpool have a great record and now actually have a team to match as well. Surely you can’t go there with four players under the age of 21, particularly those two [Willock and Guendouzi] in midfield.”
On one hand, Neville makes a valid point. The atmosphere, intensity and general threat of Liverpool could be a lot for the younger players in particular to handle and so it would seem sensible to go with experience.
However, if Emery does make those changes, it could knock the confidence of the young players in question while they have to gain that experience eventually somehow.
In turn, it’s a difficult one for the Arsenal boss, as he may well decide against changing a winning formula, albeit with the likes of Lucas Torreira and Nicolas Pepe on the bench last weekend, he has great options to come in.