Arsenal brace themselves for a difficult test this weekend as they take on Liverpool on Saturday. Although the Gunners have no reason to prioritise the Premier League as they are pretty much only in the running for a Champions League spot by winning the Europa League, they will still be hoping to cause some sort of upset that would boost their confidence during the final stretch of the campaign.
Here, at The 4th Official, we will take a look at three things Mikel Arteta must do to ensure an Arsenal win over Liverpool this weekend.
Play With A High-Risk Build-up
Although Liverpool have shifted their game a little bit in light of the injuries to key defenders like Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, they still retain a relatively high press that seeks to pressurise the opposing centre-backs in possession.
This is where Arsenal could potentially take a gamble by employing a high-risk build-up play that will mainly look to navigate through Liverpool’s first line of press. It essentially means both David Luiz and Gabriel Magalhaes, as well as the goalkeeper Bernd Leno will look to distribute possession among themselves, with the centre-backs, in particular, tasked with the responsibility of finding forward balls.
While it is a risky move considering the quality Liverpool possess going forward, it could create a major numerical superiority for Arsenal if they manage to play through the first wave – effectively giving them a lot of room and space to work with in the final third.
Make Life Difficult For The Liverpool Midfielders
If Arsenal are to salvage anything from this game, they must keep a close eye on Liverpool’s midfield trifecta of Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Thiago Alcantara.
Although Thiago hasn’t had much success since joining Anfield in the summer, he is starting to spread his wings after Jurgen Klopp has shifted Fabinho back into midfield – giving the Spaniard much more freedom in the build-up.
In a game where the Reds are likely to dominate most of the possession, Thiago could become a vital cog in the club’s approach play, so the onus will be on Arsenal’s midfield duo of Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka to neutralise the threat of the former Bayern Munich man as well as two of his midfield partners this weekend.
Use Attackers As Runners
As mentioned earlier, Arsenal’s high-risk build-up play could come with its reward, one of which is the ability to offer a lot of space during attacking phases as the opposition team will likely be on an aggressive stance during the high press.
It could allow Mikel Arteta to utilise the pace of his attacking players like Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, all of whom can be used as effective runners in behind the makeshift Liverpool backline.
Aubameyang and Saka, in particular, boast a lot of quality going forward. However, it will be up to the centre-backs in Luiz and Gabriel, as well as the main playmaker in Martin Odegaard, to offer those balls forward.