Arsenal can leapfrog rivals Liverpool in the Premier League table on Saturday afternoon with three points at Anfield, climbing into the Champions League places
Right now, it’s difficult to know exactly what Arsenal can achieve this season.
The Gunners started their campaign with three consecutive Premier League defeats but have since gone ten games unbeaten in all competitions.
Those early-season losses were a result of injuries and Covid, with Ben White, Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and others missing games.
Since then, manager Mikel Arteta has shown what he can do with a full squad at his disposal – but not against any of the title contenders.
Most critics would agree there are three teams capable of winning the title this season: Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.
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The Gunners have already played the latter two – losing comfortably (and embarrassingly) – but that was during their injury crisis.
Arsenal’s game against Liverpool on Saturday will be the perfect chance to find out how far they’ve come since last season – and how much work they’ve still got to do.
Although Liverpool lost their last Premier League outing 3-2 to West Ham and are suffering a minor injury crisis of their own, they’re still a formidable team.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have scored a record 31 league goals this term, with forward Mohamed Salah contributing ten and assisting seven.
In comparison, Arsenal have found the back of the net just 13 times. The goal difference between the two teams is a whopping 20.
Despite this, the Gunners are just two points behind Liverpool and can leapfrog them – as well as make a huge statement of intent – with a win at Anfield.
And Arteta is looking forward to the challenge. “It is a fascinating stadium to play football in,” he said on Friday.
“You have to be at your best, and raise the level to your maximum standards, emotionally, physically, tactically, because if you don’t you will be exposed.
“Going to Anfield is always a test, but if you are able to do that, there are not many grounds as good as there to feel that you are a proper footballer…
“You have to believe that you go there and that you can beat them, that’s the first thing. If somebody is not with that mindset, they should not put the shirt on.”
Even a draw or narrow defeat would still be a positive result for Arsenal. Simply challenging Klopp’s relentless team would be a sign of progress.
One of the most frustrating aspects of being a Gunners fan at the moment is their capitulations against fellow “Big Six” members. After all, it’s never easy watching your team lose heavily.
A comfortable defeat against Liverpool, however, would suggest Arteta’s blossoming team aren’t ready for Champions League football just yet.
One of the sternest examinations the Premier League has to offer awaits Arsenal on Saturday – but it’s one they’re capable of passing.
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