Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Managerial decisions are questioned by supporters and pundits all the time but the bizarre choice by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to leave Alexis Sanchez out of the Gunners' starting line-up for a crucial Premier League clash against Liverpool will be lambasted and criticised for years to come.
Wenger explained why he had dropped the Chilean by suggesting that the selection of Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck in attack was because “we will need to be a bit more direct and strong in the air”. It was a decision which came back to bite the Frenchman as Roberto Firmino opened the scoring for Jurgen Klopp’s side in under 10 minutes.
Arsenal haven't won any of their last 11 Premier League away games against the other current top six teams (W0 D5 L6). Such an abysmal record will not only make it difficult to keep someone like Sanchez at the club, but puts a huge amount of pressure on Wenger to announce whether he will be signing a new two-year contract with the north London giants.
Fan outrage has taken centre stage at times this season and looks set to go into overdrive if there is an indication that the club’s longest-serving manager commits at a time when the majority of the fanbase are calling for him to go.
Liverpool’s poor showing against Leicester earlier in the week would have given Wenger and his backroom staff ample time to analyse their opponents' weaknesses. The problems caused by Jamie Vardy due to his tricky running behind the defence were surely another reason why Sanchez would have been the right man to start up front at Anfield.
The Reds' record against top-half teams compared to bottom-half teams this season only adds to the fact that Wenger should have played his best player from the start.
The first Liverpool league double against Arsenal since 1999-2000 was littered with first-half mistakes from the midfield, in particular. Francis Coquelin, will court further criticism for a below-par performance which only adds to those who want him dropped from the starting XI, while £35million man Granit Xhaka continues to look like a player going through the gears - unable to assert his influence on another big game although he was unlucky to pick up a yellow card in a case of mistaken identity.
It’s rare you hear a football manager describe himself as a “specialist in masochism” but that is exactly what Wenger said about himself ahead of this game. He certainly lived up to that masochist billing by leaving out his best player and losing to another top-six rival at a point in the season where defeats such as the one on Saturday can be hugely damaging to squad morale, with Arsenal's hopes of securing another year of Champions League qualification taking a significant hit too.