Arsenal retain top position after Liverpool win


Paul Merson has found similarities between the tactics of Mikel Arteta and of Pep Guardiola amid Arsenal’s clash with Liverpool. The Gunners have retained their position at the top of the Premier League with a 3-2 win over the Merseyside club.

Gabriel Martinelli opened the scoring for the north Londoners inside a minute before Darwin Nunez levelled proceedings for Jurgen Klopp’s side soon after. Bukayo Saka doubled Arsenal’s tally for the tie, sending the home side ahead into the half-time break.

Roberto Firmino pulled one back to give Liverpool a lifeline but the aforementioned Hale End graduate reclaimed the north London side’s lead with a neatly-taken penalty. In what was a dramatic five-goal thriller, it was Saka’s first which saw Merson draw comparison with Guardiola’s tactics.

Martinelli found Saka at the back post, just as Raheem Sterling once did for the Manchester City boss. Speaking on Sky Sports, the former Arsenal midfielder dissected the goal which doubled the Gunners’ lead and the role the Brazil international played.

“I think Trent Alexander-Arnold’s in a good position, wait, wait, and he takes a chance, guesses what Martinelli’s going to do and you can’t guess at this level of football,” Merson said. “It’s perfect positioning and Trent’s going to cut out the pass in the middle but takes a chance.

“Great play by Martinelli but that’s made his mind up, because Trent Alexander’s made that run to go and cut him. He’s got to cut back, great goal by Saka. I’ve seen it for years, Raheem Sterling on the far post tapping in, ‘that’s easy’… no one else was there.”

Arteta spent three years working alongside Guardiola at the Etihad stadium as his assistant. The City boss is said to have often the now-Arsenal boss for advice on tactics.

An extract from ‘Pep’s City: The Making of a Superteam’ book, written by Lu Martín and Pol Ballus, reads: “Arteta and Guardiola always kept in touch, and Arteta lived in the same neighbourhood as Pep’s brother, Pere, when he was based in London.

“When Barca drew Chelsea in the Champions League [in 2012], Pep picked up the phone to pick his old friend’s brain about their upcoming opponent. Impressed by Arteta’s critical analysis, Pep made a mental note to seek his advice more often.”