Everything you need to know ahead of the Premier League clash at Anfield on Sunday
“He works very hard, is focused and gives absolutely everything. He loves to play so much that it is sometimes difficult to stop him but he looks absolutely ready. He has not played for a long time so I will have to decide what I do with him but he looks ready to play.”
The words of Arsene Wenger will be music to the ears of Arsenal fans. Alexis Sanchez was directly involved in 45 goals in 51 appearances for the Gunners last season (30 goals, 15 assists) and his return to the squad against Liverpool on Sunday is a welcome boost at just the right time.
The defeat at Stoke City once again exposed Arsenal’s problems in defence and while Alexis is unable to resolve those issues, his prolificacy in attack makes him the biggest threat for Wenger’s men at Anfield.
Sanchez wants to leave the club and has made it clear that he won’t be signing a new contract, but Wenger’s decision to keep him until the end of his deal means he will now be staying at Emirates Stadium for one more season at least.
Alexis and Laurent Koscielny return to the Arsenal squad for the visit of Liverpool on Sunday.
The Chilean had been ruled out with an abdominal strain for the first two league games of the season while Koscielny is now available following his three-match suspension which carried into the new season.
“The early team news is that Koscielny is back available for selection and Alexis has worked very hard to be back again and he is available as well,” said Wenger in his pre-match press conference.
Santi Cazorla is still several weeks away from returning to first-team action while wantaway striker Lucas Perez is unlikely to be involved as he closes in on a departure from north London.
Laurent Koscielny is now available for selection after serving a three-match suspension.
ARSENAL POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
Wenger could decide to start Alexis following his return from injury which would be the first time he’s played a competitive match alongside club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette.
The unorthodox selections against Stoke are unlikely to feature again at Anfield and Koscielny is expected to start in defence with Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal.
Sead Kolasinac could revert to his favoured left wing-back position ahead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey will partner eachother in central midfield.
LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS
Liverpool’s wantaway star Philippe Coutinho looks set to miss out on Sunday’s game after Jurgen Klopp revealed that he’s battling illness.
The Brazilian attacker recently handed in a transfer request following an approach from Barcelona but the Reds have so far stood firm and refused to engage in negotiations.
“It will take time because he has not trained for a long time. I’ve no idea at this moment [when he will return], we would have to check when he is back,” revealed Klopp.
Coming off the back of qualifying for the Champions League group stages, Liverpool boast an exciting front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino summer signing Mohamed Salah, all of whom are likely to prove troublesome to a vulnerable Arsenal defence.
Mane has had a hand in five goals in his five previous league starts against Arsenal (three goals, two assists) while Firmino has scored three goals in four league games against the Gunners.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
Liverpool won both of their Premier League meetings with Arsenal in 2016-17 – they haven’t won three in a row versus the Gunners since May 1998 (four in a row).
Games between these two clubs in the Premier League have produced 17 goals in the 90th minute or later; more than any other fixture.
Arsenal won the fewest points in matches between the top six sides in 2016-17 (9) and lost half of their 10 matches against fellow top six opposition.
The Gunners last won a Premier League away game against a side that finished in the top six last season back in January 2015 (2-0 at Man City) – they’ve since lost seven and drawn five of their matches on the road against these clubs.
Alexandre Lacazette has netted seven goals in his last six competitive appearances, although just one of those has come in an Arsenal shirt (six for Lyon).
TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME
The match is being televised live on Sky Sports in the UK and kicks off at 4pm