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Jamie Carragher’s Liverpool defence comments prove Arsenal must start Nicolas Pepe at Anfield


Arsenal boss Unai Emery must unleash Nicolas Pepe against Liverpool on Saturday.

Pepe is yet to make the starting XI since joining from Lille due to a lack of match fitness.

He looked sharp in the 2-1 win against Burnley, however, after coming on as a half-time substitute.

The prospect of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Pepe teaming up – coupled with the 100 per cent start to the season – has given Arsenal fans hope that a top-four finish is on the cards.

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Saturday’s trip to Anfield is the first real test of their credentials but they will travel with confidence after wins against Newcastle and Burnley.

Liverpool’s defence is ripe for exploitation after a couple of shaky performances at the back.

Norwich could have scored a hatful on the opening day of the season while Southampton came close to snatching an equaliser last Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp’s team have been playing a high defensive line – and Jamie Carragher believes Arsenal can take advantage thanks to the pace in their attack.

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Nicolas Pepe in action for Arsenal against Burnley

The Liverpool legend said: “What Liverpool have done this season, we’re talking about them playing a high line, I’m not necessarily sure it’s a higher line, but it looks to me as if they’re trying to play offside.

“They caught players offside more than anyone in the Premier League this season.

“I don’t like it and I think they’ve been lucky and fortunate at different times this season to get away with it.”

When asked about Arsenal’s pace, he added: “Well that’s what you think, you think Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe maybe coming on also.

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“When I say Liverpool have got away with it, the quality they’ve played against hasn’t been top class.

“I said after the Norwich game, if they were playing a top team they may not have won. Considering they won 4-1, it’s a big thing to say I suppose, but the quality Arsenal have, if Liverpool get caught in those positions and don’t run back, they’re going to have major problems within that game.

“You think about on the counter-attack as well, Liverpool playing higher up on the pitch on Saturday. And listen of course Liverpool are going to cause big problems the other way, I have no doubt about that, but the chances, the shots on goal that they’re allowing at this moment, better quality teams, better quality strikers, are going to make Liverpool pay.”

Carragher is spot on, Liverpool will play on the front foot against Arsenal so there will be space to exploit on the break.

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Nicolas Pepe signed for Arsenal from Lille for £72m
Nicolas Pepe signed for Arsenal from Lille for £72m

If Emery fields his attacking trident for the first time then the Gunners should have the speed to counter on each flank and through the middle.

Liverpool are also bound to score so Emery needs to find a way to hit the back of the net.

Pepe will be chomping at the bit to prove himself and, because of his goal record at Lille, is worth cramming into the team in place of Reiss Nelson.

Nelson performed well against Newcastle but the half-time switch in the Burnley win that saw him replaced by Pepe resulted in Arsenal going up a gear after the break.

The prospect of marking Andy Robertson, who loves to attack, may be daunting but Emery’s lack of options out wide make Pepe the stand-out choice.

It is time for the club-record signing to be let loose.



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