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Mikel Arteta facing attacking dilemma ahead of Liverpool clash

Premier League pacesetters Arsenal will put their title credentials on the line on Sunday when they meet downtrodden Liverpool at Anfield.

Eight points clear of second-placed Manchester City, who have a game in hand, the Gunners head to Merseyside on the back of seven straight league victories.

However, Anfield hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Mikel Arteta’s side down the years by any stretch of the imagination, considering they’ve lost their last six top-flight games there.

Arsenal’s porous backline often fell victim to Liverpool’s scoring prowess during that spell, conceding at least three goals on all six occasions, pinpointing the size of the task at hand.

While a 3-2 win in the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium set the London outfit up for a first league double over Jurgen Klopp’s side since 2009/10, they’ll still have to overcome their ‘Anfield jinx’ to get it over the line.

Gabriel Jesus wasn’t on the scoresheet that time, yet he had his share in the victory, chipping in with an assist before drawing a match-winning penalty for his team.

The Brazilian returned to the starting line-up in a 4-1 demolition of Leeds United last weekend following a long-term knee injury and had an immediate impact, scoring twice to fire Arsenal to a clear-cut triumph.

But with Jesus back in full force, Arteta has a choice to make, and it won’t be a pleasant task, as he needs to cut out one of his other three high-performing forwards to make room for the ex-Man City man.

According to the Telegraph journalist Sam Dean, winter arrival Leandro Trossard, who has been hugely impressive since joining from Brighton & Hove Albion, could be the one to make way.

The versatile Belgian winger has been an attacking menace since completing his switch from the Amex Stadium in January, developing into a leading assist-maker at the Emirates.

While operating as a left-winger or a ‘false nine’ depending on the occasion, the 28-year-old has delivered seven assists in only 11 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, at least three more than any other player in that timeframe.

Trossard’s sublime technique and space awareness have helped him slot in Arteta’s tactics seamlessly and fill the vacancy left by Jesus’ lengthy spell in the treatment room.

Unfortunately for the diminutive forward, the Brazilian’s return to the fold may compromise his first-team status when the Gunners take on Liverpool.

Alongside Oleksandr Zinchenko, Jesus has been a catalyst to inspire Arsenal’s title charge in the Premier League after moving to London as a serial winner with Man City.

Besides his impressive scoring exploits, the 26-year-old seems to have established himself as one of the influential characters in the dressing room, stretching his significance to the team beyond on-field contribution.

And since Jesus’ place in Arteta’s starting XI looks all but cemented, it leaves Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka as the only candidates able to accommodate Trossard’s inclusion.

However, both players have been paramount to the Gunners’ outstanding season, and it’s hard to imagine the Spaniard leaving either one out of his line-up on Sunday.

Martinelli’s pace and ability to ease past his markers have been off the charts in the Premier League this term, and with Liverpool deploying a high defensive line, his services will be in high demand.

Klopp’s men were on the receiving end of the Brazilian’s blistering pace in the reverse fixture as he breezed past Trent Alexander-Arnold to break the deadlock in the first minute.

As for Saka, he’s been one of Arteta’s most trusted allies in the past two seasons and arguably one of the best-performing wingers in the Premier League this term.

He wasn’t part of Arsenal’s starting line-up against Leeds last weekend after missing training through illness, which was the first Premier League match he had not started since December 2021.

As the club’s joint-leading goalscorer with 13 goals in all competitions, Saka has nailed down his place in the first team as his own, so good luck Trossard.

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