Unai Emery watched his Arsenal team struggle to come out from the opening two matches with a positive result, but Liverpool have already started setting the Premier League on fire. Ahead of the titanic clash between the two teams at Anfield in the upcoming weekend, Emery jokingly claimed that he will not want to face the European champions ever again.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said:
“For us we don’t want to play against Liverpool ever. We’d prefer not to play against them.
“We are going to prepare first with the adaptation to them, their gameplan and individual players and after to impose our gameplan and capacity.
“We are going to prepare both defensively and offensively.”
The Gunners manager is still hurting from the 5-1 defeat suffered at the hands of the Reds in the similar fixture last season. The memories of this defeat – suffered just before New Years’ eve – will be fresh in the minds of the Arsenal players. The late foray into the transfer market has certainly helped Arsenal improve their strength, while Liverpool are almost similar in terms of strength from last season.
Roberto Firmino came up with a hat-trick in that huge victory, while they were also goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. The trio will once again be dangerous for Arsenal, who certainly have a new look team. The primary objective will be to keep the front three of Liverpool relatively quiet. It will prove especially difficult at Anfield, while the Reds have a strong record. Furthermore, Liverpool have overcome Norwich and Southampton with comfort. Anfield has also been a fortress for the team with no defeats since April 2017.
Even though both teams have started the new league season with victories from both matches, there is a huge difference between the manner of victories.
Arsenal were able to come within a whisker of the top four place last season. However, the Gunners were a whopping 27 points behind Liverpool and bridging this gap will be the biggest task for Emery this season. After a decent start, the Gunners now enter into a serious run of fixtures that can potentially make or break the domestic campaign. Even though the signings of Nicolas Pepe and David Luiz add valuable quality to the team, the next few weeks will be crucial with the team coming up against opponents like Liverpool, Spurs, and Manchester United within the next five games.
Arsenal were criticised for being very naïve in that heavy defeat. The biggest lesson learnt from such matches could help avoid suffering similar defeats. Previously, Arsenal Wenger’s team struggled to learn from the mistakes and it was a significant factor behind our struggles. If there is one major sign that Arsenal have learned from the mistakes, it is Emery admitting that the club will be undertaking special preparation – both offensively and defensively.
It should be remembered that some of the best defensive displays from Arsenal in the 2018-19 campaign came against their direct competitors in the table. This used to be the Gunners’ Achilles heel under Arsene Wenger. There were also encouraging performances like the 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium back in November. The new-look team will have the first major test this weekend. After managing to scrape through against Newcastle and Burnley, Arsenal will be keen on a statement of intent – even if it is just a stalemate – at Anfield.