Emery must leave out Xhaka for Liverpool clash, says Arsenal legend Charlie Nicholas – The SunAugust 24, 2019
UNAI EMERY must leave out Granit Xhaka for their trip to Liverpool, Arsenal legend Charlie Nicholas claimed.
The Gunners travel to Anfield in a top of the table clash this evening with both sides the only teams in the league with maximum points from the opening two games.
Midfielder Xhaka – who captained Arsenal in their first win of the season against Newcastle – was left out of the squad last weekend at home to Burnley.
And ex-Gunners forward Nicholas told Sky Sports the Swiss must again be dropped to make way for Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi as a holding pair with Dani Ceballos in the No10.
He said: “I think Arsenal should play a back four with two protectors in front.
“I don't want Granit Xhaka in the team, I would prefer Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi. They would give Arsenal energy and defensive qualities.
“Then I would want Alexandre Lacazette through the middle and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe to provide pace on the counter and make things happen, with Dani Ceballos just behind them.
“I'd have that line-up to give Arsenal a back six and then a front four that could cause Liverpool problems on the counter-attack.”
Despite Nicholas’ calls for Emery to play a front three of, Aubameyang, Pepe, and Lacazette the pundit believes the latter will be benched – giving Liverpool a clear advantage.
He added: “I think Unai Emery will go a bit more cautious and play Aubameyang with Lacazette on the bench, maybe along with Ceballos. If he does that then Liverpool will win.
“Arsenal have to look at a way to get the first goal and try to hurt Liverpool and put them on the back foot. However, I have a feeling Emery might be a bit more negative.
“Ceballos is very neat and tidy. Against Burnley, he looked a yard sharper than he did on the opening weekend and that's a promising sign. He looks like a good player for Arsenal and I would start him.”
Nicholas went onto predict Liverpool will win the game 3-1, despite the Gunners improving defensively with the £8million signing of David Luiz from Chelsea.
He said: “As a former Arsenal player, I'm dreading this game.
It's been a good start for Arsenal. They haven't played fabulously well but they got a dogged win at Newcastle and then beat Burnley, which was a bit of a grind. But how are they going to defend against Liverpool?
“Arsenal have improved a bit defensively but it will take time. David Luiz could make mistakes or he could have a man-of-the-match performance.
“Sokratis doesn't offer enough for me and they are still vulnerable in the full-back areas.
“Liverpool are strong favourites for me, but there is some intrigue in seeing Arsenal try and take on Liverpool's defence at the moment, especially with Adrian in goal instead of Alisson.”
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