Arsenal full-backs must exploit Liverpool's defence

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Arsenal face Liverpool at the Emirates on Saturday evening in a crunch tie which could decide who is top of the Premier League at the end of the weekend.

No doubt Arsene Wenger will have been studying his opponents’ weak spots in the build up to the match, and if he gives his full-backs the freedom to bomb forward and attack the Liverpool defence, then it could make the difference.

While the Gunners have lacked width of late, the Reds have been playing with three central defenders and Glen Johnson has only just returned from injury.

Arsenal have missed the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla through injury over the past few weeks – all of whom can do a job out wide.

Cazorla has now returned, while Serge Gnabry and Tomas Rosicky can also play on the wings.

But Wenger’s determination to accommodate the in-form Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Matheiu Flamini and Mikel Arteta has led to his side playing some very impressive, but also very narrow football.

Flamini is ruled out through injury this weekend, but Arteta will return after he served his one-game suspension for his red card at Crystal Palace in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.

Wenger will no doubt want to include the Spaniard in his starting line-up, and will be reluctant to leave out Ramsey, Ozil or Jack Wilshere.

This could force one of the three out onto the flanks with Cazorla or Rosicky likely to play on the other side.

But if Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers goes with three centre-backs at the Emirates on Saturday then his defence will be extremely difficult for Arsenal to break down.

And Glen Johnson – who seems likely to play at right-back – could be a player who the Gunners can exploit, firstly because he has only played twice since the start of September, and secondly because he has a tendency to leave his post to bomb forward.

Consequently, Kieran Gibbs could certainly have some joy on the left hand side if he is given the freedom to exploit Johnson.

Additionally Bacary Sagna – who provided an assist for Olivier Giroud against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last week – could do a similar job on the right.

If Wenger recognises this early on, then Arsenal will create chances, and with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez in fine form for Liverpool, they will certainly need to do that.

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Bacary Sagna
Kieran Gibbs

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