Beginning of Difficult Stretch
Though they are two of English football’s most historic clubs, Arsenal and Liverpool meet at the Emirates Stadium in the unique situation of being this season’s surprise packages. Few would have expected this mammoth clash before the season started to be a battle of first versus third in the Premier League.
For Arsenal, their reign at the top of the table will undergo a severe examination in the next two months as they look at a fixture pile-up that will see them take on Liverpool first, then Manchester United, Manchester City, Everton, and Chelsea all before the New Year. Add to this crunch clashes in the Champions League against the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and Marseille and anyone can see that if the Gunners are serious about lifting their first piece of silverware in eight seasons, it is November and December that could be the make-or-break months.
Two home defeats in the span of a week to Dortmund in the Champions League and Chelsea in the League Cup have been a bit of a disappointment heading into this weekend’s match against Liverpool. Arsene Wenger is upbeat about his side’s chances of turning the tide after the Chelsea cup defeat though.
“We will respond against Liverpool, don’t worry. The home form is a concern but not as big as the statistics show it, because I felt in big games against Dortmund and [Chelsea] we gave easy goals away. There are positives and negatives, the negatives are we give the goals away; the positives are that we don’t give many chances away. So we have to keep doing that and focus on the next game”, said the French boss.
Statement of Intent?
Liverpool fans will be buoyed by their club’s spot just two points off the pace in the Premier League. And while observers continue to question whether Liverpool can stay near the top of the table, the team continue to produce good football and more importantly consistent results.
Some believe that Liverpool’s bubble will soon burst, but manager Brendan Rodgers is leading a confident bunch that seem to get stronger week by week. With the Premier League having undergone quite the shake-up at the top due to all the new managers at big clubs, this could be a prime time for Liverpool to be amongst the Champions League places and perhaps higher, especially without the distraction of European football.
In-form midfielder Jordan Henderson has emphasised the importance of the Arsenal match this week, saying: “They’re all tough games in the Premier League and Arsenal have been flying of late. But so have we, so I think it will be a good game to watch and hopefully we can get a good result. It would send out a message to the rest of the teams that we’re here and we mean business. But I think the main focus is going there and playing like we have been.”
One of the biggest early season matches to date, two of this term’s surprise packages clash at the Emirates Stadium aiming to show they are for real. Liverpool were barely being mentioned amongst contenders for the Champions League places, yet now they are near the top of the table about a third of the way through. Meanwhile, the dark clouds of discontent have cleared around Arsenal as a strong start to the campaign has given supporters genuine hope that this could be the year they end their trophy draught and reclaim the Premier League title. Both teams are in superb form and this has the makings of a real classic and possibly a revealing look at where these sides stand when facing a top club. Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool.