Arsenal face probably their biggest test of the season so far as they host Liverpool in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners have already beaten top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspur and lost away at Manchester United so far this campaign. But for the first time, they are facing one of last season’s title contenders, knowing a victory will take them back to the top of the table following Manchester City’s win over Southampton.
Despite the fact that Jurgen Klopp’s side have not had the best of starts to the campaign, Sunday’s game will not be a straightforward one for Arsenal by any means as manager Mikel Arteta will be all too wary of the threat the Reds pose, especially in attack with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota available for selection.
With that in mind, it’s absolutely essential that the Spaniard gets his team selection for the game spot on. There could be one major decision for the Gunners manager to make, with Oleksandr Zinchenko emerging as a doubt after missing the midweek win over Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League.
Thankfully for Arteta, football.london’s Arsenal writers Kaya Kaynak, Tom Canton, Tashan Deniran-Alleyne and Bailey Keogh, are on hand to offer up some assistance. Below, they take a look at who they think should be starting for the home side in Sunday’s clash against Liverpool.
Kaya Kaynak – Chief Arsenal correspondent
Despite a positive result, there weren’t too many displays that I think threatened the first team in Thursday night’s win over Bodo/Glimt.
Perhaps the one player who could be brought in is Kieran Tierney, given that Oleksandr Zinchenko was absent from the squad altogether against the Norwegian champions and missed training prior. The Ukrainian’s composure on the ball could be essential to combat Liverpool’s high press, though, so if he’s fit. I’d play him.
Thomas Partey will be equally important to Arsenal’s ability to get a result of any kind, and alongside Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard, he will be hopeful of providing the technical quality that can outdo Liverpool’s more functional midfield.
Up front I’d make no changes to the front three, who are yet to be kept quiet by any defence in the Premier League this season. Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka have all been amazing so far, and they’ll need to be at their best yet again if Arsenal are to claim victory on Sunday.
Kaynak’s Arsenal XI vs Liverpool: Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli
Tom Canton – Arsenal writer
Considering when you look at both Arsenal and Liverpool ahead of this fixture less than seven months on, the Gunners might make just two changes to the team that lost 2-0 at the Emirates. William Saliba and Gabriel Jesus are coming in to replace both Cedric Soares and Alexandre Lacazette.
Now, these are two significant swaps, but in the context of numbers, it is inspiring how just a couple of adjustments can make a huge impact. That said, the same can be seen of Liverpool after they introduced Alisson and Virgil van Dijk to the side, taking them to a Champions League victory.
Arsenal enter a match against Liverpool as favourites for some but underdogs still with others. The match will hopefully provide the answer as an in-form Arsenal face the Reds after one of their poorest starts to a season for some time.
The return of Kieran Tierney is key for me. Oleksandr Zinchenko might be injured, which somewhat takes away the decision for Mikel Arteta, although having the more defensively astute Scot to tackle Trent Alexander-Arnold’s runs might perhaps be the better option anyway.
Canton’s Arsenal XI vs Liverpool: Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard; Saka, Martinelli, Jesus
Tashan Deniran-Alleyne – Arsenal Writer
Arsenal’s team for a Premier League fixture pretty much selects itself at this point. And in true fashion, there’s one position up for debate. Unsurprisingly, it’s at left-back where Oleksandr Zinchenko has emerged as a doubt after missing Thursday’s win over Bodo/Glimt.
In Kieran Tierney, the Gunners have the perfect replacement, and Mikel Arteta can even turn to the versatile Takehiro Tomiyasu as an option if the Ukraine international isn’t passed fit. For me, there’s no need to risk Zinchenko, so Tierney should start in the back four alongside William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White.
Although Fabio Vieira was impressive in the Europa League, it will take something even more special to dislodge one of Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey or Granit Xhaka for a fixture of this magnitude. The Ghana international should be well rested after missing the midweek win, and he will be crucial in the midfield battle.
Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli make up the Arsenal front three, and it’s important they are clinical in front of goal if, and when, the opportunity arises, as I feel this is what cost the Gunners in a couple of meetings against Liverpool last season.
Deniran-Alleyne’s Arsenal XI vs Liverpool: Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Odegaard, Xhaka; Saka, G. Jesus, Martinelli
Bailey Keogh – Arsenal writer
Mikel Arteta’s defence picks itself in the Premier League, with the left-back position being the position up for debate. Ben White, William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes are all guaranteed starters. For the match against Liverpool, I would opt for Kieran Tierney instead of Oleksandr Zinchenko to nullify Mohammed Salah’s threat.
Thomas Partey is undoubtedly the first name in this midfield, and he plays alongside Granit Xhaka, who has also performed well this season. Martin Odegaard takes the final midfield spot also due to his excellent performances.
Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus are certainties in the team. Bukayo Saka takes the right-hand side as he has been a crucial presence for the Gunners in the Premier League this season.
Keogh’s Arsenal XI vs Liverpool: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka, Jesus