x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

'No question' about Nasri's commitment

Arsene Wenger has no problem picking Samir Nasri to start for Arsenal when Liverpool come visiting and says 'I don't question the commitment of Samir Nasri to this club', even as Manchester City close in on a transfer for the midfielder.

Arsene Wenger has no hesitation about playing Samir Nasri, right, who has expressed a desire to leave Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger has no hesitation about playing Samir Nasri, right, who has expressed a desire to leave Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger would have no problem picking contract rebel Samir Nasri against Liverpool Saturday and urged Gunners supporters not to jeer the France international.

Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, yesterday remained hopeful a deal to sign the midfielder could be tied up "very quickly", with discussions between the two clubs believed to have been going on for some time.

However, Wenger maintains that Nasri, 24 - who has yet to sign a new deal and could leave for nothing next summer - is still an Arsenal player and there is no reason to leave him out now that he is fully fit after a bout of illness.

Nasri, though, could be in for a hostile reception from some sections of the home support, with the midfielder using his Twitter account to hit out at the "disrespectful" chants during last weekend's game at Newcastle United.

Nevertheless, Wenger - who this week saw captain Cesc Fabregas sold to Barcelona - said at a news conference: "One thing I don't question is the commitment of Samir Nasri to this club.

"Every day since he has arrived here, every day in pre-season, he has worked with a fantastic spirit in training. The fans will want Arsenal to play well and win the game. They do not make an individual case of each player in each position.

"They want good players and to win the football game."

Liverpool may never have a better time to end their miserable away run against Arsenal, who have been weakened by the loss of Fabregas and several injuries.

Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby and Armand Traore were joined on the injury list by Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou after Arsenal's midweek Champions League victory over Udinese, and new signing Gervinho and Alex Song are suspended.

Liverpool's last victory at Arsenal came in February 2000 and only two of that winning side - Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, the latter currently sidelined by injury - are still at Anfield.

"Maybe we're due for a win," said Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager. "But it is not going to make it any easier for us. It will still be a difficult game.

"Arsenal have been most football fans' second team because they play great football and are entertaining to watch. They are still a team I have the greatest respect for.

"I don't know how they are going to react, it is up to us to know how we are going to react. We can control what we do and we can compete against them. That is all we can do."

ARSENAL v LIVERPOOL: KEY BATTLES, TACTICS AND FACTS

Key battle: Thomas Vermaelen v Luis Suarez

With Cesc Fabregas gone, Vermaelen, the Belgian defender, is expected to become one of Arsenal's leaders. He faces Suarez, who makes the type of runs between full-back and centre-back that could expose Arsenal's defensive weaknesses.

Tactics

The key issues are whether Kenny Dalglish will play a two-man attack, with Suarez and Andy Carroll, and who Wenger will play at left-back, as both Kieran Gibbs and Armand Traore are doubtful.

Previous meetings

While a home draw with Liverpool was one of the games that ruled them out of the title race last season, Arsenal are still unbeaten in 14 home games against them.

Probable line-ups

Arsenal (4-3-3) Szczesny; Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Jenkinson; Ramsey, Arshavin, Nasri; Walcott, Chamakh, Van Persie

Liverpool (4-4-2) Reina; Flanagan, Carragher, Agger, Enrique; Lucas, Henderson, Adam, Downing; Suarez, Carroll

 

Facts

Arsenal conceded over half of their goals from set pieces last season.

A goal for Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt would be his 50th in the Premier League.

Liverpool have scored no more than one goal in seven of their last nine away fixtures.