Over the last ten league visits to Anfield the Gunners record reads W3, D2, L5. Over the last four league visits the games have produced a total of 20 goals, that’s an average of 5 goals per game – entertaining stuff eh!! Unfortunately, we only scored 7 of them while conceding 13.

Arsenal’s recent record at Anfield has included some of their worst performances in recent years. The 5-1 horror show from 2014 included a brace from Martin Skrtel inside the first ten minutes. Sterling and Suarez did the rest of the damage against an overly gung-ho Gunners.

Last season Arsenal didn’t turn up at all, losing 3-1 in a dire performance that occurred in the middle of that terrible run. The 2015-16 Anfield contest was one of the most frustrating, and typically Arsenal, draws in recent memory. Leading 3-2 with a few minutes to go, instead of closing out the game they conceded a silly equaliser, to Joe Allen of all people, to finish 3-3.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Anfield you will need no reminding can be an extremely happy hunting ground for the Gunners. The ground is the scene of Arsenal’s most famous, and unlikely, win to clinch the league in 1989 on goals scored in the final minute of the last game of the season.

One of my favourite performances at Anfield was back in December 2001, when a ten-man Arsenal triumphed 1-2. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst received two yellow cards in the first half, the second for a disputed dive. Ray Parlour was a colossus in central midfield from the first minute to the last in one of his best games for the Gunners. After the sending off Wenger didn’t make any personnel changes but pushed Kanu back alongside Parlour, leaving Henry up front on his own. Kanu was fantastic, his mesmeric close control, strength, and ability to carry the ball alleviated any pressure. Steven Gerrard couldn’t make any influence on the game and Arsenal controlled it from the first to last kick despite being a man down.

Current Form

Having just been Stoked by the Orcs, many fans might understandably be feeling somewhat pessimistic about the team’s chances. Arsenal are not playing badly so far this season but there are important issues that I feel must be addressed if this team is to fulfil its potential.

Firstly, trying to shoehorn two right wing-backs into the team in Bellerin and The Ox to keep them happy must stop. Chamberlain is refusing to sign a contract so Wenger is trying to keep him happy by finding a place for him in the team. Playing politics with the team to keep the Ox happy is costing us points and it’s absurd in the extreme.

The squad has Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal and the yet to depart Kieran Gibbs available and better suited to the left side than the Ox. The team looks unbalanced and this needs to be resolved. If Wenger truly believes the Ox should start then, drop Bellerin and play him down the right or play him in the middle. This half-arsed attempt to appease a player and squeeze him into a role that doesn’t suit is costing Arsenal. By all accounts he doesn’t want to play down the left so if that isn’t going to make him happy why bother when it weakens the team.

Secondly, the back three did not make sense against stoke. We had two left backs in the back three including one of them, Monreal, in the centre.

A back three of Kolasinac, Monreal and Mustafi makes no sense when you have Mertesacker and Holding available. I can’t really fathom what Wenger was thinking with this selection given what was available. Mertesacker’s biggest strengths are his reading of the game, organisation, distribution and his telescopic tackling. Away to Stoke is the perfect game for his skill-set so decision making on this was a little baffling to say the least.

For the goal Jese ran off Monreal’s right shoulder. The defender paused briefly before going after him but by then it was too late. If Mertesacker was in that situation I get the feeling he wouldn’t have hesitated as Monreal did but it’s easy to say all this with hindsight.

Mustafi has come in for some criticism for his performance but it was his first game back and he missed most of pre-season. I think alongside either Koscielny or Mertesacker we would’ve seen a better performance from him.

The third issue was in midfield where Xhaka and Ramsey individually did some good stuff but collectively it’s a partnership that wasn’t cohesive enough on the day. The distances between them were huge against Stoke in transition phases when we lost the ball, leaving our defence exposed.

The front three of Welbeck, Ozil and Lacazette are combining well so far. Lacazette both comes to the ball and plays off the shoulder of the last man well. His movement looks sharp and the ‘offside’ goal was a great finish. Ozil and Ramsey are swapping well with Ozil dropping back into midfield when Ramsey breaks forward.

With the ball and going forward Arsenal were good against Stoke just as they were against Leicester. There was a thirty-minute period of the game when we were almost unplayable but just couldn’t finish things off.

The Opposition

Liverpool have looked very good going forward this season. They press high and hard, break at speed, and have good finishers. They demonstrated this again in the week against Hoffenheim in their Champions League qualifier second leg. Liverpool won 4-2 on the night and ran out 6-3 victors on aggregate.

What this also demonstrated is that Liverpool are weak defensively. They look very susceptible on crosses, the full-backs don’t look convincing and central midfield doesn’t have the ability to control the tempo of a game. Having said all this, the attack is very effective and can easily score enough goals to overcome any defensive shortcomings.

If Arsenal are loose with the ball in midfield against Klopps pressing style then we will get screwed. Mane, Firminio and Salah, the likely front three, will have a field day if we don’t get it right.

Arsenal need to be smart how they work the ball out of their own half and in to Liverpool’s. If the Gunners can do this then they will be well in this game. If Arsenal are convincing going forward then they will get plenty of chances at Anfield.

Against Liverpool the Gunners must have the threat of speed or they will be pushed back into small spaces and play quick passes around. Lacazette and one of Alexis (fitness permitting) or Welbeck will push them back and stretch the play.

Decision Time

Wenger must be decisive in how he sets up the team and no more half-arsed attempts to appease players and upset the balance. At Anfield, he must pick a balanced team, with the right type of player down the left and an experienced ball playing defence comfortable getting pressed. Arsene needs to pick speed up front, and resist the temptation to let Giroud loose on their suspect defence. In midfield, I suspect he will instruct Ramsey to stay a bit closer to Xhaka and be more circumspect with his runs for the first 70 minutes. He tends to do this in big games and let his superhuman stamina do the damage further forward late in the game when the opposition is tiring. We saw this work to great effect at Wembley in May.

With a stronger defence, a bit more discipline and the return of Alexis it could be Arsenals day. They are due a win at Anfield.

My team: Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsay, Kolasinac; Ozil, Alexis; Lacazette

Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal