Gary Neville has urged Unai Emery to take some of his young Arsenal stars out of the starting XI for Saturday afternoon’s trip to face Liverpool at Anfield.
The two clubs are the only sides in the Premier League who have made 100% starts to the new season, with a quartet of youngsters – Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, Matteo Guendouzi and Reiss Nelson – all starting in both matches for the Gunners.
But Neville says the atmosphere at Anfield, coupled with Arsenal’s recent struggles there, will require more experienced heads and believes the young players need to be taken out of the firing line.
Speaking on Sky Sports, he explained: ‘I think for me it’s all about Arsenal. I think we always know what Liverpool are like at Anfield, their record there over the last 12-18 months has been outstanding.
‘Arsenal have got a poor record and every time I’ve watched them in the last few years it feels a bit to me like they lack competitiveness at times, they melt. I worry about them when they go to Anfield, I always feel like it’s a difficult place to play but there’s a lack of adaptation.
‘I’m not for them changing their whole style of play, but just for them respecting where they’re going to play and learning. They haven’t got a player in their squad that’s won a league game at Anfield and that really is a problem for them. And I’m not quite sure how they can change that.
‘They’ve got four Under-21s in that team: Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Willock and Nelson. This is not a kindergarten place, Anfield, you need to go with a little bit of experience and I think some of the players on the bench [last week] and maybe Xhaka need to come in.’
He continued: ‘When we were going to Anfield in the sort of early days when we were young lads coming through into the team, that was the one ground where we were left out, at Anfield. As 19 or 20 year olds, maybe one of us might play but three or four of us weren’t thrown in.
‘It was just too much, it’s intense, it’s hostile, it’s fast, it’s furious. Liverpool have a great record and now actually have a team to match as well. Surely you can’t go there with four players under the age of 21, particularly those two [Willock and Guendouzi] in midfield.’
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