(Reuters) - Arsenal head to Anfield on Sunday seeking to improve their poor recent record against other ‘Big Six’ teams amid growing uncertainty surrounding their most creative players, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsene Wenger’s side have not won at Anfield since 2012, since when they have played 50 matches against their major rivals, only winning 11, drawing 19 and losing 20. Away from home, they have just won two of 24 games at Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and United.
Anfield also was the scene for one of their greatest humiliations when a vibrant Liverpool side thrashed them 5-1 in 2014, ripping them apart with four goals in the first 20 minutes.
The contrast between their recent failures and that last victory in September 2012, when two of their summer signings, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, scored the goals, could not be more stark with Wenger again this week bemoaning the state of the transfer market as he seeks to add to his summer business.
Wenger needs to sell before he can buy long-term target Monaco winger Thomas Lemar and has described his 33-man squad as “unmanageable”. But, in a familiar refrain, he this week lamented the market difficulties experienced by English clubs.
“There is no transfer market anymore because the price depends only on the identity of the buyer and when you are English, you have straight away 50 per cent [extra] on the price of a player and that makes it difficult to act,” said Wenger.
His failure to offload any underperformers, given the disappointment of last season when Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League, has surprised respected Irish commentator Johnnie Giles, the former Leeds United midfielder.
“I’ve always been a great fan of Wenger and I think he has done a great job with Arsenal over the years - I think everybody agrees with that,” said Giles on Eamon Dunphy’s The Stand podcast.
“But when you have Ozil in the team, again, and Chamberlain in the team, again, Walcott still there, Xhaka — these are proven failures, and why they are there, I don’t know. I think it will be the end of Wenger.
“I thought they would be out, start from scratch, good players in, or better than he has. These are proven failures and why he is sticking with them, I do not know.”
Not everyone agrees with that assessment, particularly of Oxlade-Chamberlain, who Wenger insists is not for sale despite interest from Chelsea and Liverpool.
With Sanchez also linked with a move to Manchester City, there could be several ins and outs ahead of next week’s transfer deadline.
Before then, Wenger will be desperate for some reward at Anfield, his favourite English stadium, on Sunday after last week’s defeat at Stoke City.
Laurent Koscielny is free to return after missing the first two games through suspension. His presence should bolster a defence that has conceded four goals in two games.
Sanchez is also expected to be in contention after missing the opening games with an abdominal strain.
Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Christian Radnedge