The Hard Tackle lists three players who can make a positive impact when Arsenal and Liverpool clash at the Emirates on Sunday.
Sunday will bring us four Premier League games as Gameweek 23 of the 2023/24 season continues. The marquee fixture of the day will round up the action, with Arsenal and Liverpool locking horns at the Emirates.
Arsenal slipped up in the last few weeks, going from the top of the table before Christmas to fourth. While the Gunners have climbed to third with back-to-back wins within a four-day span, their form has been the subject of concern for fans. But the two results before Sunday’s game should provide some much-needed confidence boost.
As for Liverpool, the Reds were just behind Arsenal when the Gunners were sitting atop the Premier League table. But they have run away with the lead since then, capitalising on Arsenal’s slippage and Manchester City being away for the FIFA Club World Cup. And they are five points clear of Pep Guardiola’s men heading into Gameweek 23.
Sunday’s match will be the third meeting between Arsenal and Liverpool in six weeks. The Gunners are yet to clinch a victory over the Reds this season and will be eager to bounce back. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle picks three players who can singlehandedly swing the scales in their team’s favour.
With Mohamed Salah unavailable, the onus will be on the other attackers to step up and leave their mark on the game. Diogo Jota was thus a candidate for the opening spot on our list. But we have gone ahead with Darwin Nunez, who faces much ridicule but has still delivered the goods.
The Uruguayan international is infamous for being one of the worst finishers in the Premier League. But he tends to hit the woodwork more times than outright missing the target, which makes him more unfortunate than profligate.
However, the 24-year-old has a solid tally of 11 goals and 11 assists in 34 appearances across all competitions thus far this term. Nunez is the first player in the top-five leagues to get into double figures for goals and assists.
So, while he is the subject of incredible ridicule, Nunez has given a good account of himself this term. So, he will fancy his chances of rising to the occasion on Sunday, which will help him prove his naysayers wrong, particularly the critique of not stepping up in big games.
Continuing the trend of players who have supposedly flattered to deceive this season, we continue our list with the Arsenal skipper. We are talking about Martin Odegaard, who has blown hot and cold this term.
Fans and pundits have often accused the Norwegian international of going missing when the situation gets sticky. The former Real Madrid playmaker was an exceptional performer last term as Arsenal returned to the UEFA Champions League.
But the 25-year-old has not been as consistent this season, with his output also falling. However, Odegaard has still managed a decent tally of seven goals and four assists in 28 appearances.
That said, the alleged tendency to go AWOL in sticky situations has some weight. So, Arsenal will need Odegaard to step up and deliver the goods on Sunday. As the old adage goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
We continue the trending theme of this feature with another player who has been eager to prove his naysayers wrong this season. We are talking about Trent Alexander-Arnold, the constant butt of jokes on social media.
The English international rarely goes a game without finding himself as the subject of ridicule due to a defensive mishap. The trolling amplifies whenever the Reds end up on the wrong side of the result. But he has persevered to step up and hit back at his critics.
Alexander-Arnold has come into his own since Jurgen Klopp modified his role. Now more of a midfielder, even though he starts as a right-back on paper, Alexander-Arnold has found a way to be more involved in the proceedings. That has brought the best out of the Liverpool attackers.
So, it is no wonder that the 25-year-old has become the priority summer target for Real Madrid. But a move to Real Madrid will unlikely see the light of day, considering Alexander-Arnold is the next Liverpool captain. As for Sunday’s game, he will be the away side’s creator-in-chief. And Arsenal might be in trouble if he rises to the occasion.