Arsene Wenger has fanned the flames under Arsenal’s failed attempt to buy Luis Suarez from Liverpool during the summer ahead of his team’s home Premier League tie with Brendan Rodgers’ Reds.
Wenger’s refusal to rule out a January bid for Suarez and praise of the player’s ability is sure to further rile the Anfield boss ahead of this crucial fixture, which is live on Sky Sports 1.
The league-leaders are 11/10 favourites to win the match, with the visitors priced up at 23/10 for victory and the draw 12/5.
Recent reports suggest that Suarez will try to leave Anfield in January.
The Mirror newspaper claimed just a few weeks ago that Suarez will again attempt to force through a move away from Merseyside when the transfer window opens in the new year.
Real Madrid is thought to be the Uruguayan’s preferred destination, but the tabloid believes Arsenal will bid up to £50m for the 26-year-old’s services.
With Liverpool devoid of European commitments this season Suarez would be free to play in the latter stages of the Champions League if he were to join a club still competing in this season’s renewal of Europe’s elite club competition, which makes his signature even more valuable to potential employers.
Nicklas Bendtner’s dreadful display against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup highlighted the dearth of striking options available to Wenger.
The Dane is currently the de facto second-choice striker at Arsenal, but his woeful performance against the Blues has led many football watchers to believe Bendtner has played his last game for the Gunners.
Wenger’s desperation to land Suarez in the summer showed that he knew there was a problem in his attacking ranks and the reappearance of forgotten forward Park Chu-Young off the bench against Chelsea only served to highlight that fact.
The Frenchman’s comments infer that Suarez and Olivier Giroud could form a potent double act in north London.
Wenger described Giroud as a ‘real centre-forward’ and it is hard to disagree as the 6ft 4in former Montpellier man has led the line admirably on his own for Arsenal in the Premier League this term.
Suarez, on the other hand, is described by the Emirates chief as ‘a player who goes on the flanks, who drops into midfield and . . . is really a dribbler’.
The Arsenal squad is blessed with top midfield talent, but they lack a player who can cut into the box off the left wing and Suarez clearly fits that bill as he has performed with aplomb across the forward line since arriving in England nearly three years ago.