Arsenal vs. Liverpool: Gunners out to silence the doubters

Arsene Wenger wants to see ‘pace and determination’ from his team

Arsene Wenger Arsenal v Liverpool
Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger
(Image credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

The last time Liverpool and Arsenal met in the league it ended in a 4-0 thrashing for the Gunners, a result that devastated the north London team’s league chances just three weeks into the new season.

Arsenal have improved since that dire August day, although their title aspirations vanished a long time ago - as did Liverpool’s, who have flattered to deceive in the months since they put Arsenal to the sword at Anfield.

Only one point and one place separates the two clubs in the Premier League but Liverpool, who have 34 points to Arsenal’s 33, can point to the fact that they’ve been juggling their domestic campaign with the Champions League group stage.

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Arsenal, in contrast, have meandered their way through the thrills and spills of the Europa League. Despite that energy advantage - which Chelsea exploited last season to win the Premier League - the Gunners are still struggling to keep within touching distance of the top four. Lose tonight and the gap between Arsenal and the fourth-placed club will stretch to four points.

It was the pace and adventure of Liverpool that undid Arsenal in August, and worryingly for the Gunners, the defensive frailties have been apparent several times subsequently.

Manchester United ripped open their back four earlier this month, as did Manchester City in November, and the Reds will surely look to repeat their tactics tonight.

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Asked at the pre-match press conference how he planned to counter the cut and thrust of Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ of Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, Arsene Wenger didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

“I will try to see what I do,” said the Arsenal manager of the the quartet, who have scored a total 50 goals in all competitions this season.

“For me, the most important thing is we turn up with a positive performance. We have been strong at home and it is important we continue to dictate our game at home.”

Arsenal’s defence has tightened of late, keeping clean sheets in their last three matches, but the concern now is up front, where they’ve managed just three goals in four matches.

With Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey both out until the new year with hamstring injuries, Wenger will go into tonight’s game minus two of his most creative players.

It will be a test of character for Arsenal, particularly with question marks over Alexis Sanchez’s commitment to the club, but Wenger believes his side will answer the doubters.

“This squad has a good mentality and it is about us, to make sure we are on top of our game,” he told the BBC. “We must play with pace and a determined attitude.”

Asked if August’s 4-0 hammering still played on his mind, the Frenchman replied: “When you have such a long career as I have, you have some defeats unfortunately that hurt you for the rest of your life. I believe what is interesting in football is you always have a time to make up for it.”

How to watch Arsenal vs. Liverpool

The Premier League clash kicks off tonight at 7.45pm on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League.

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