Phil Thompson: Raheem Sterling’s pace will cause Per Mertesacker problems

Raheem Sterling

Phil Thompson claims that Liverpool star Raheem Sterling’s pace will be a problem for Arsenal’s defence in the Premier League clash on Sunday.

Phil Thompson believes that Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling will cause problems for Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker on Sunday.

The Reds will host the Gunners at Anfield in the Premier League and will be looking to build on their victory over Bournemouth away from home on Wednesday.

Liverpool got the better of the Championship outfit 3-1 in the quarter-finals of the League Cup, with Sterling playing as a centre-forward.

The 20-year-old played as a striker against Manchester United last weekend but with little effect, but his performance against the Cherries was hugely impressive.

Liverpool legend Thompson has advised manager Brendan Rodgers to deploy Sterling as a striker against Arsenal, and claims that the England international will be a handful for Arsenal centre-back Mertesacker.

“When someone has blistering pace you back off as a defender and it’s a worry,” the 60-year-old told Sky Sports. “I think Brendan might have fallen upon a solution of how best to play with this team at the moment.

"I’m not saying Rickie or Mario are out of the picture completely, but right now this looks a good option. Sterling against Mertesacker should be some scene.”

Thompson’s advice is perfectly sound, and indeed Sterling should be played as a striker against Arsenal.

The Gunners have started to look more organised and are picking up points, but they remain vulnerable at the back.

One suspects that manager Arsene Wenger will be making sure that his Arsenal defence knows how to cope with Sterling, but in Mertesacker he has a centre-back who is slow and at times clumsy.

Playing at Anfield will also give Liverpool an advantage. If the Reds get an early goal, then they could pick up the three points without much trouble.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch