Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to avenge Anfield thrashing as Liverpool visit Emirates

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Arsene Wenger has called on his Arsenal players to avenge their Anfield thrashing at the hands of Liverpool at the start of the season.

The Gunners were thoroughly outclassed as Jurgen Klopp’s side won 4-0 when the pair clashed in August’s Premier League meeting.

With the summer transfer window coming to a close, Wenger opted to field Liverpool-bound Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and put his two new recruits – Sead Kolasinac and club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette – on the bench.

Liverpool were rampant as Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Daniel Sturridge all got on the scoresheet for the hosts.

Arsenal had already lost at Stoke the previous weekend but this was a shock to the system in what was just the third league game of the campaign.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech recently described the loss as “one of the worst experiences” of his career and now Wenger wants his team to turn the tables when Liverpool visit the Emirates Stadium on Friday.

Arsenal players react during the game against Liverpool at Anfield.

Arsenal players react during the game against Liverpool at Anfield.

“When you have such a long career as I have, you have some defeats unfortunately that hurt you for the rest of your life,” he said.

“I believe what is interesting in football is you always have a time to make up for it. When you can put things right, do it.

“So let’s focus on what is in front of us and turn up on Friday night with a completely different performance.

“The motivation is there. This squad has a good mentality and it is about us, to make sure we are on top of our game. We must play with pace and a determined attitude.”

Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Wenger included Oxlade-Chamberlain in his team despite the fact reports continued to link him with a move away.

The England international eventually left for Anfield on transfer deadline day and, while Wenger stopped short of admitting he should not have played the 24-year-old in the game, he did concede mistakes had been made.

“It would be not fair to put the defeat at Liverpool, where the whole team had a bad performance, on one player,” he said when asked if he regretted selecting Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 1

“After that, on the other side, you analyse ‘did you make mistakes or not?’ You cannot go home and say everything was perfect when you lose like we did.

“I rate Alex highly and he knows that. After that, you want all the players to be respected who have played for us.”

Wenger is likely to welcome defender Shkodran Mustafi back into his side on Friday night following the Germany international’s recovery from a thigh problem.

He will be without both Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey as the pair are stricken with hamstring injuries.

It remains to be seen if Wenger will stick with the back-four he has adopted in recent games or revert back to his now-familiar three-man defence to ward off Liverpool’s potent attacking threat.

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Tomas Rosicky and four other quality Arsenal midfielders plagued by injury

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Rosicky is one of a handful of modern Arsenal midfielders with bad injury luck.

Former Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky announced his retirement on Wednesday, having struggled to make an impact at boyhood club Sparta Prague during his return.

His Arsenal career was somewhat similar, as the moments of brilliance he was capable of and showed on occasion were sporadic due to his terrible luck with injuries.

That’s been somewhat of a theme with Arsenal midfielders in recent years, as the Gunners have struggled to find long-term solutions in the position because players would constantly be missing time due to injury.

Here’s a look at Rosicky and four other midfielders whose Arsenal career was blighted by fitness issues.

TOMAS ROSICKY

Rosciky joined Arsenal in 2006 and left in 2016. In those ten years, he made only 170 Premier League appearances, in a total of 246 total appearances for the club.

When fit and in form, Rosicky was a delight to watch. He could glide through midfield, finding pockets of space to receive the ball and move it on, having an eye for a killer pass. The Czech Republic international could also strike the ball powerfully with either foot and scored some excellent goals for Arsene Wenger’s side.

Unfortunately, he never completely fulfilled the promise he showed at Arsenal due to his injuries. His first season at the club was the only one where he was close to full fitness, and he never hit the 30 mark for league appearances in a season. He lost two entire campaigns to injury, meaning his undoubted class was seen only fleetingly in the Arsenal midfield.

Injuries prevented Rosicky from truly leaving his stamp on the Premier League.

Injuries prevented Rosicky from truly leaving his stamp on the Premier League.

SANTI CAZORLA

It might be a harsh moniker, but Santi Cazorla could easily be called the new Rosicky. The Spaniard is only four years younger than his former teammate, but the two players’ brittleness is remarkably similar.

It’s a shame, because like Rosicky, Cazorla can claim to be one of the best midfielders of his time in the Premier League. When he has been fit, Cazorla has oozed class. Louis Van Gaal made Cazorla the focus of his Manchester United team’s strategy to beat Arsenal two years ago, having Bastian Schweinsteiger man-mark the Spaniard, to disastrous results as Arsenal won 3-0 – but it was a testament to the fear factor Cazorla added.

He was also responsible for Arsenal’s best result this decade, the 2-0 away win against Manchester City in 2015, when he scored one goal and created the other, while generally running the show in a superlative performance. Alas, such displays have been few and far between since then, as he has suffered setback after setback while dealing with injuries. He hasn’t kicked a ball in anger in over a year, after suffering his latest injury in Arsenal’s Champions League win over Ludogorets last season.

Cazorla has missed the better part of the last three seasons.

Cazorla has missed the better part of the last three seasons.

ABOU DIABY

When it comes to injuries and Arsenal midfielders, no player has borne the brunt of jokes as much as Abou Diaby. He made just over 100 appearances in 10 seasons with the London club, and the remarkable thing about that statistic is that most people would be surprised to know that he even got to 100.

Diaby was signed in the 2005-06 season and immediately evoked comparisons with Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira. Wenger placed immense faith in the Frenchman, believing that Diaby had the talent and drive to live up to the lofty comparison. Unfortunately, he suffered a severe ankle injury in his first season, being on the receiving end of a horrendous tackle against Sunderland, and he was never the same player after that.

Every time he made a comeback, Diaby would suffer a fresh setback, and while Wenger kept his faith in the midfielder, even offering Diaby a contract despite the amount of time the Frenchman kept missing, but Arsenal finally let him go in 2015. He joined Marseille that summer but made only four appearances that season, and then suffered a fresh injury last October. The nightmare continues.

Injuries derailed Diaby's career before it could take off.

Injuries derailed Diaby’s career before it could take off.

JACK WILSHERE

Jack Wilshere became a first-team regular in the 2010-11 season as a precocious teenager, and an impressive performance in the Champions League against Barcelona that season led him to being spoken of as an heir to Paul Scholes in the line of gifted English midfielders, and an equal to the star-studded Barcelona midfield he outplayed that night.

Whenever he’s had a run of fixtures, it’s fair to say Wilshere has justified the hype. However, he’s been injured far too often, to the extent that Wenger was happy to let him go on loan to Bournemouth last season in order to get regular first-team football. Unsurprisingly, he would suffer injuries with the Cherries as well, never getting the chance to maximise the opportunity afforded him.

At least now it looks like Wilshere is on the verge of breaking through again, impressing in the Europa League and Carabao Cup this season and thus earning a Premier League start. Considering his age, there’s still plenty of time for the Englishman to turn his career around, although it may not be at Arsenal given his contract expires at the end of this season.

Wilshere is still only 25, so if he can maintain fitness he could have a long career.

Wilshere is still only 25, so if he can maintain fitness he could have a long career.

CESC FABREGAS

The Cesc Fabregas-Arsenal narrative has been poisoned by his acrimonious transfer to Barcelona and his decision to join bitter rivals Chelsea after that, so it’s easy to forget what he represented at Arsenal.

Fabregas was at one point in time the best youngster to come out of the Arsenal set-up, and then a brilliant midfielder. His first few seasons at the club saw him become an instant star, and a representation of all the hope that came with Arsenal’s proposed youth revolution.

But his later Arsenal years were pockmarked by fitness issues, as he failed to hit 30 league appearances in any of his final three seasons before leaving. Each season saw him suffer an injury and then be out for longer than expected as he struggled to return to full fitness.

Since then, Fabregas has rounded into one of Europe’s best midfielders, and has largely been injury-free, but his move away from the Emirates Stadium isn’t the only reason his Arsenal career is a case of what might have been.

Fabregas' later years at Arsenal were marred by injuries.

Fabregas’ later years at Arsenal were marred by injuries.

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How Man City compare to Man United's '99 treble winners

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City have been tipped to emulate Manchester United's 1999 side.

Pep Guardiola‘s Manchester City have been tipped to match or even surpass Manchester United‘s treble-winning season of 1998/99.

Although there is a long way to go, City could yet win an unprecedented quadruple of Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at how City’s side match up to Sir Alex Ferguson’s legendary team.

Goalkeeper

Ederson has been one of the big improvements to City’s side this season. The 24-year-old Brazilian has settled seamlessly into Premier League life and has impressed with his all-round qualities. But Ederson still has a long way to go to be considered in the same class as Peter Schmeichel, one of the all-time greats.

Ederson has a long way to go to catch up with the great Dane.

Ederson has a long way to go to catch up with the great Dane.

Defence

If City do have a weakness against the very best, then it is probably at the back. They are much improved from last season, when they conceded 39 goals in the Premier League. Nicolas Otamendi and, in particular, John Stones have made big strides while Kyle Walker is a strong right-back. But Vincent Kompany’s fitness problems are long-standing while, as well as he has played, Fabian Delph is not a specialist left-back.

Gary Neville, Jaap Stam, Ronny Johnsen and Denis Irwin were the regular back four for United during their treble-winning season. While arguably not the strongest ever Ferguson defence, it was packed full of experience and featured possibly the best two full-backs in United’s history.

Jaap Stam and Dennis Irwin were part of an experienced United defence.

Stam and Irwin were part of an experienced United defence.

Midfield

The two outstanding players for City this season – and there is stiff competition – have been David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. Between them they have scored and directly assisted 27 goals, and been involved in many more. Speed of passing and movement is the hallmark of Guardiola’s teams and, with Fernandinho providing cover to the defence, it has been a formula other teams have been powerless to resist.

As good as City’s midfield is, the United midfield of David Beckham, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs was surely the greatest of the Premier League era and one of the greatest ever. United’s Champions League success came despite Keane and Scholes both missing the final through suspension.

Silva and De Bruyne form a formidable partnership in midfield.

Silva and De Bruyne form a formidable partnership in midfield.

Forwards

City’s fluid line-up sees wide men Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling often the furthest men forwards and both have been outstanding this season. Sterling is the club’s leading scorer while Sane has provided as many assists as De Bruyne and Silva. Sergio Aguero has not been on top form but already has 13 goals while Gabriel Jesus is a support act of the highest class.

Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke were in their pomp in 1998/99 and scored more than 50 goals between them, forming one of the Premier League’s most potent partnerships. And just as crucially – especially in the Champions League final, of course – they had excellent back-up in Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Yorker and Cole were a highly productive striking pair.

Yorker and Cole were a highly productive striking pair.

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