Saturday Night Takeaway: Wenger's Alexis Sanchez risk backfires

Arsenal lost at Anfield as Liverpool's Top Four chances are boosted

Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez, Liverpool, Premier League

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in the dugout during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool with Alexis Sanchez behind him. Picture by Peter Byrne PA Wire/PA Images

Arsene Wenger has increasingly been accused of being stuck in his ways.

The critics wouldn't be too far off the mark on occasion as the formation and playing style rarely changes at Arsenal regardless of the opposition.

In fairness to the manager, he took a risk at Anfield in the head to head Top Four battle against Liverpool by leaving out key attacking player Alexis Sanchez (Mesut Ozil was missing through illness).

Unfortunately, while Wenger rightly thought fielding the quick and tall Danny Welbeck in the team alongside target man Olivier Giroud was a means of beating the Liverpool pressing on paper, one thing didn't change in the eventual 3-1 defeat.

Arsenal are often poor away from home against the bigger teams, with the recent 3-1 defeat to Chelsea indicative of that.

Also as it turned out, Alexis Sanchez's energy aided their ultimately futile second half fightback and his guile played in Welbeck for the goal that reduced the arrears, which begs the question - with hindsight of course - why a place could not have been found for the Chilean who has cut an increasingly frustrated figure as Arsenal's annual unravelling takes place.

The consolation is Arsenal have a game in hand but with Santi Cazorla also missing from midfield playmaking duties for the remainder of the season, the battle to secure their perennial Top Four spot is looking fraught.

 Liverpool frustrating habit

Yes, Liverpool picked up a big win against Arsenal to boost their hopes of Champions League football. But why is it, that the Reds somehow shine against the Arsenals, Chelseas and Tottenhams of this world, but slip up against teams they are fancied against? It must be frustrating for their fans.

Tactically, Jurgen Klopp's team like to counter-press against sides that are progressive and willing to play a high line. Against teams that like to sit back and counter-attack, Liverpool can get caught out as they have done time and time again.

A rejuvenated Leicester playing in their rapid counter-attacking style from last season on Monday demonstrated that.

Shakespeare writes himself into script 

For the moment, it remains unclear if Craig Shakespeare will be given the Leicester City job permanently until the end of the season.

But the caretaker manager has got the squad playing the way they did when they won the Premier League last season, leading the Foxes to consecutive 3-1 wins at home to Liverpool and Hull City to push the club clearer of relegation troubles.

While Leicester might be keen to put a more experienced manager in place relatively quickly, giving Shakespeare the reins until the end of the season looks like an increasingly astute option.