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Mikel Arteta’s complete overhaul to last Arsenal team that beat Liverpool

Arsenal haven’t beaten Liverpool in the Premier League for more than two full years, but Mikel Arteta’s team sit above their rivals going into Sunday’s game at the Emirates Stadium.


Arsenal haven’t had the best recent record against Liverpool, but Mikel Arteta’s side have made significant progress since the last time they beat the Merseyside club.


Arteta will lead his team out on Sunday with the Gunners sitting 11 points clear of Jurgen Klopp’s men after last weekend’s north London derby win, having played one game more. Seven wins from the first eight matches were enough for the hosts to go into the weekend sitting top of the table, but the visit of the Reds represents a real test.


Arsenal have lost their last four Premier League games against Liverpool, scoring just once in the process. They were also eliminated from last season’s Carabao Cup by Klopp’s team, losing 2-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals, and their last victory over the 2019-20 champions feels a lifetime ago.


That win came at the end of Liverpool’s title-winning season, and helped deny Klopp’s team a Premier League points record. There have been a lot of changes since then, though – for both teams, but for Arsenal in particular – and Mirror Football has taken a look at the differences between that July 2020 team and the XI we are likely to see line up this weekend.


Goalkeeper and centre-backs

The end of the 2019-20 season saw Emi Martinez stake his claim for a regular starting spot in north London. The Argentine was deputising for the injured Bernd Leno, and helped Arsenal win the FA Cup, but his appearance against Liverpool in the Community Shield a few weeks later was his last before a £20m move to Aston Villa.Kieran Tierney was used as a centre-back the last time Arsenal beat Liverpool

Kieran Tierney was used as a centre-back the last time Arsenal beat Liverpool.

Leno returned the following season, but has since been usurped by Aaron Ramsdale. In front of him, two of the three centre-backs from that game are still in north London, with David Luiz the exception, but the formation is no longer Arteta’s preference.

Rob Holding is now down the pecking order, while Kieran Tierney, the left-sided centre-back that day, is now competing with Oleksandr Zinchenko for a starting spot at left-back. Arteta could realistically name a back four only containing players not involved that day, if Zinchenko returns to full fitness in time, with William Saliba on loan at Saint-Etienne in 2019-20 and Gabriel – as well as right-back options Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu – not yet at the club in July 2020.

Wing-backs and midfieldBukayo Saka is one of a number of survivors from the July 2020 team

Bukayo Saka is one of a number of survivors from the July 2020 team.

While Gareth Southgate played Bukayo Saka at left wing-back as recently as September, that hasn’t been the England international’s Arsenal role for some time. It still was for the victory over Liverpool, though, with Cedric Soares – now a depth player on the right – starting on the opposite flank having joined on an initial loan earlier that season.

In the centre of midfield, meanwhile, we have two players whose paths have gone in very different directions since that victory over Liverpool. Remarkably, just two and a bit years on, Granit Xhaka could realistically be the only member of the XI playing in the same role he did in that last victory over Liverpool, with his partner that day, Lucas Torreira, now at Galatasaray having started just one more Arsenal game in the interim.


As for those entering the fold, neither Thomas Partey nor Martin Odegaard was at the club before the 2020-21 season, but both have been regulars for Arteta’s table-toppers. Arteta also introduced five substitutes during that victory over Liverpool, all entering the field with the hosts already 2-1 ahead, and four of those have already left permanently with the fifth, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, now out on loan.Reiss Nelson scored Arsenal's last winning goal against Liverpool

Reiss Nelson scored Arsenal’s last winning goal against Liverpool


Arsenal’s two goals against Liverpool came from members of that game’s front three, but it would be a surprise to see any of the trio feature this time around. Match-winner Reiss Nelson is the only one of the three in with any chance of being involved, but his involvement this season has amounted to just eight minutes from the bench in Thursday’s Europa League victory over Bodo/Glimt.


Alexandre Lacazette was also on the scoresheet that day, but the Frenchman left north London over the summer to return to former club Lyon. The third starter, Nicolas Pepe, is on loan at Nice after falling out of favour under Arteta with Saka thriving on the right of the front three this term.


While Gabriel Jesus’ impact has been well-documented, the development of Gabriel Martinelli into a starter has also been key. The Brazilian missed out through injury in that 2020 victory, having scored twice in a 10-goal cup thriller against Liverpool earlier that season, but will now expect to feature as Arsenal look to keep their momentum going on Sunday.


So that’s two or three starters from July 2020 likely to be involved from the beginning this weekend, and only one in the same role. Arteta has been backed to make some big changes since taking over midway through the 2019-20 season, and it’s hard to argue with what he has done.



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