Arsenal welcome Liverpool to the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
Mikel Arteta’s fast starters go into the contest 11 points ahead of Liverpool. It’s the largest advantage Arsenal have had over the Reds since finishing the 2015/16 campaign ahead of them by the same margin – Arteta was still a player for the Gunners that year.
Here’s the XI Arteta may deploy to widen the chasm between the clubs even further.
GK: Aaron Ramsdale – Despite facing Liverpool more often than any other club in his senior career (eight times), Ramsdale is yet to earn a victory against the Reds (D1 L7).
RB: Ben White – After coming out on the wrong end of a tight match which Liverpool’s razor-sharp front-three decided last March, White was open-mouthed in the dressing room post-game: “Any slight opportunity they get… f*** me. They’re so clinical.”
CB: William Saliba – The outrageous and inflammatory nutmeg Saliba dished out in last weekend’s north London derby underlined the confidence coursing through the talented 21-year-old.
CB: Gabriel – Arsenal’s rugged Brazilian is the only player to have started every match for the club across all competitions this season.
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko – “He can play in several positions, never complains, doesn’t make mistakes, always listens, always focused, always concentrates.” Having worked with Zinchenko at Manchester City, Arteta would have known that Pep Guardiola’s glowing assessment of the fullback wasn’t like the hollow praise he affords beaten opponents.
CM: Martin Odegaard – Jurgen Klopp was one of many admiring managers that spoke to Odegaard when he was shining in the Norwegian top flight at 15. However, the prodigy opted for Real Madrid despite growing up as a Liverpool fan.
CM: Thomas Partey – A matter of hours after landing in London on his return from AFCON in January, Partey came off the bench to get a red card against Liverpool. His preparations for Sunday’s fixture have been a little less hectic.
CM: Granit Xhaka – The newly buccaneering midfielder goes into the weekend with more touches in the opposition box than Kevin De Bruyne.
RW: Bukayo Saka – Klopp liberally dished out praise for Arsenal’s frontline in the buildup to the contest but was lost for words when he came to the number seven. “Saka…ooof,” was his offering – which said plenty.
ST: Gabriel Jesus – The former Manchester City man has contributed to a goal in each of his last five appearances against Liverpool (two goals, three assists).
LW: Gabriel Martinelli – Back in 2019, Klopp dubbed the Brazilian a “talent of the century”. Three years on, Martinelli isn’t doing much to contradict the Liverpool manager.