It is not quite Anfield ’89, but still…
Arsenal will put their dwindling title hopes on the line this Sunday when they welcome an in-form Liverpool side to the Emirates Stadium.
After a dismal end to 2023, the Gunners have settled again and won back-to-back games to stay within reach of the Premier League leaders. However, it seems anything less than three points here could spell the end of our domestic challenge.
Arsenal vs Liverpool: 3 key factors for the Gunners to secure a vital Premier League win
This make-or-break dynamic is not ideal as the Reds have claimed four successive league victories and thrived even without Mohamed Salah, while Klopp’s impending exit will only fuel their desire to bring down a title rival.
Mikel Arteta might face an almighty task to out-tactic Liverpool, but here are three key factors in pulling it off.
1. Protect Oleksandr Zinchenko
Where is Takehiro Tomiyasu when you need him?
Given the absence of our Asian Cup resident, Oleksandr Zinchenko will start at left-back and assume responsibility for cutting out the Reds’ cross-field passes - a route which led to their equaliser in the reverse fixture.
Lapses in concentration and suspect defending mean Zinchenko is a huge backline liability, and especially so when up against the division’s top scorers. Therefore, Arteta must enact a gameplan that will protect us from the likely weekend bombardment down his flank, whilst offering the player himself the platform to become a major offensive weapon.
Efforts were made to do just that at Anfield as Gabriel marked Salah once we recovered possession and frequently moved across to save Zinchenko from isolated, one-on-one situations, but one slip up was all the Egyptian needed.
Thankfully, Salah will miss out this time and, judging by post-match events on Tuesday, it looks like Zinchenko has already received the defensive message.
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