Charlie Nicholas wonders if Arsenal will change approach at Liverpool

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Charlie Nicholas is getting 'excited' about Arsenal but feels they may need to make tactical changes in Premier League clash at Liverpool.

Arsenal have won four of their last five Premier League fixtures to close to within two points of the Champions League places.

Their top-four credentials will face another stern examination on Sunday, though, when they travel to Liverpool.

The Reds have been blighted by inconsistencies this season, but remain a formidable proposition on their day.

It could be that an epic encounter lies in store at Anfield, with both sides impressive going forward but less so at the back.

Former Arsenal forward Charlie Nicholas is forecasting an open contest, but has also picked out areas Arsene Wenger may be looking to tweak tactically as he endeavours to pile pressure on opposite number Brendan Rodgers.

He told Sky Sports News: “On their day, if Liverpool start well, then Arsenal have a problem, because they haven’t tended to start well. Arsenal need to try and start on the front foot and try to squeeze Liverpool.

“I think it’s a fascinating game. There are two teams with great qualities going forward, but they are similar in the presence of a lack of quality defensively and this could end up 4-4 quite easily. I think we will have a classic encounter.

“It could, on the other hand, be very tense. Liverpool are nervous at home and won’t want to go behind early and leave themselves open to being picked off on the counter-attack. With (Raheem) Sterling, they will be looking to release him onto the ball as often as possible and running at people like (Per) Mertesacker, who lacks pace and doesn’t like that quick guy coming at him. It’s hard to pick it. I can’t see how both these teams can’t score.”

How, then, do Arsenal keep Liverpool out?

Nicholas added: “We know about the personnel at the back, (Mathieu) Debuchy is back, but Arsenal need to start a relatively cautious game, maybe even going with two holding midfield players and letting the wide areas take care of themselves, with (Alexis) Sanchez in particular.

“But with (Olivier) Giroud back, they have got a big out ball there, very good at turning defenders and is brilliant at taking the ball in and linking the midfield and the wider areas. I’m actually getting a bit more excited about Arsenal now. The defensive frailties are still there but going forward we have seen recently that they are starting to score a lot of goals and I feel last week, in the Newcastle game, that they could have scored seven or eight. If Arsenal can score first, I think Arsenal will win comfortably.”

Arsenal were hammered 5-1 on Merseyside last season, but that was their first defeat in seven Premier League outings at Anfield.

They will be hoping that it proves to be a happy hunting ground this weekend but, as Nicholas points out, they are sweating on the fitness of a number of key men.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil are all nursing knocks and will be dripped back into action over the festive period.

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