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Arsenal’s Midfielders & Forwards Have Final Anfield Audition

Here we are. Back again. At Anfield.

Three days on from our most recent Premier League defeat and Arsenal are once again taking to the hallowed Liverpool turf. Leicester was tough, but there is no tougher ground to visit than Anfield.

The circumstances heading into Thursday are chalk and cheese compared to the last meeting, as we’ll likely not be far off seeing 22 different players take to the pitch. There are no points to be won, only minutes to be had for players who aren’t regular first team fixtures and progression into a competition that – we can safely say – is furthest down both managers’ list of priorities.

But as I mentioned last time out, that doesn’t make the Carabao Cup an unwelcome distraction. Arsenal have players in the squad who will play second fiddle for much of the campaign unless they assert themselves in matches such as these. For this competition, this could be their final audition.

Mikel Arteta will be watching on with keen eyes, almost solely focussing on the midfield and forwards. This is different to the King Power Stadium.

It’s painfully clear that the midfield needs reinforcing if we are to compete at the right end of the table. Are Mohamed Elneny or Joe Willock really going to change those plans? No, they’re not. Even if Willock scores a hat-trick and makes Jordan Henderson look Lee Cattermole, Arteta will still look to strengthen.

Yet players such as Willock, Reiss Nelson and Nicolas Pepe need to offer a good account of themselves to ensure this recruitment drive doesn’t follow through for the coming windows. If the players Arteta wants come in this summer arrive, but the rest of the pack aren’t seizing their chance, then who is to say further investment in certain areas can’t be expected down the line.

It should anyway, but perhaps even more so than expected.

From Leicester, Nelson showed his worth, Willock did OK, while Pepe had a decent 30-minute spell. Carabao Cup ties must be grasped firmly by those on the periphery. It may come across as excessive, but with the Arsenal lineup getting closer to being finalised, Arteta needs to see progression.

If we do secure Champions League football, he won’t think twice about dipping his hands in the market again. There are a few players who can’t afford that.

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