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.
“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. “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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