Leeds United have shown Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal how to expose Liverpool’s weakness


Tonight sees Arsenal begin a daunting run of fixtures that could have a major impact on their ambitions even at this early stage of the season.

After starting the new Premier League campaign with two wins out of two, Mikel Arteta’s side travel to Anfield to face champions Liverpool in the first of a quickfire double-bill against the Reds, with the second being Thursday night’s Carabao Cup encounter.

The Gunners then face Sheffield United, Manchester City, Leicester City and Manchester United between now and October 31 during an intense early-season run for the North Londoners.

But for now, Arsenal have their sights trained on securing a positive result against Liverpool.

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Arsenal’s league record at Anfield during Jurgen Klopp’s reign as Liverpool boss is less than stellar, the Merseysiders having won four out of five including 3-1 and 5-1 successes in the last two.

But Arsenal have turned a page since their last visit to Anfield 13 months ago, and with confidence coursing through their veins, football.london takes a look at what they must do to beat Liverpool tonight.

Target Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold has blossomed into one of Europe’s finest young full-backs.

The 21-year-old was instrumental in Liverpool’s title win last season, scoring four goals and registering 13 assists en route to being named the PFA Young Player of the Year.

However, as deadly as he can be going forward, the right-back has at times looked like Liverpool’s weak link at the back.

That much was evident during the Reds’ thrilling 4-3 opening weekend win over Leeds United.

Alexander-Arnold struggled in the face of Leeds’ intense pressing style, misplacing 11 of his 34 passes and losing seven of his eight duels, per Opta .

And while the England international was spared a stiffer examination by Chelsea after Andreas Christensen’s red card blunted the Blues as an attacking force, Arsenal must look to create down the left flank at Anfield.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang likely to be deployed on the left of Arteta’s front three, there is a strong possibility that Arsenal will find joy down that side.

Keep their organisation

Of course, Arteta is targeting a third win on the bounce against Klopp, having bested the German in July’s league clash at the Emirates and the Community Shield at the end of August, the latter being decided on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Wembley.

In those two games, Liverpool dominated possession, with 68.9 and 59.7 per cent at the Emirates and Wembley respectively.

In the league meeting, the Gunners turned the game on its head after Sadio Mane’s opener, with Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson both capitalising on Liverpool defensive errors to put Arteta’s men 2-1 up at the break.

Then, in the second half, Arsenal camped inside their own half, protecting their lead with a resilience and diligence that has often been absent for the Gunners in big games down the years.

Under pressure from the visitors, Arteta made a triple-change on the hour to introduce fresh legs that helped the Gunners maintain their press and frustrate Liverpool with a rigid defensive shape (again not something that has always been synonymous with Arsenal).

At that stage, since Arteta’s first game in charge, Arsenal had dropped more points (15) from winning positions than any other Premier League side, but they refused to relinquish their lead on that occasion in what was a hugely significant scalp for Arteta before the end of his first half-season in management.

Mikel Arteta will have to nail his game-plan to perfection.

And that newfound defensive stability helped the Spaniard secure his first piece of silverware, surviving a Manchester City onslaught in the FA Cup semi-final before coming from behind to beat Chelsea in the final. In both of those games, Arsenal prevailed after allowing the opposition to dominate the ball, relying on their organisation to see them through.

Trying to outplay and outpass Liverpool is often a fool’s errand – adopting a similar approach to recent games seems the best way forward for Arteta.

Efficient counter-attacks

As discussed above, Arsenal will almost certainly sit back and absorb Liverpool’s pressure before looking to hit the champions on the break.

Arteta will most likely set up in a 3-4-3 formation which will resemble a 5-4-1 in defensive situations, a useful formation for counter-attacks with the wing-backs and inverted forwards.

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And Arsenal possess a tremendous threat on the break. In Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, they have two of the quickest wing-backs in the league, while Aubameyang, Lacazette and Willian pack a considerable goalscoring punch.

For Arsenal, making the right decisions on the break could prove crucial to their chances. If they time and execute their passes correctly, their front three should have enough to trouble Liverpool’s defence, but a lack of conviction is likely to be punished given Liverpool’s prowess when pouring forward, especially now that Klopp has added pass-master Thiago Alcantara to his midfield.

Arteta has reason to be confident in his defensive plan, but his players must back that up by punishing Liverpool once the Reds lose the ball.





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