When Arsenal take on Liverpool on Saturday evening, it will be on the back of a long barren run at Anfield.
The last time they snatched a league win in front of the Kop was a little over nine years ago in September 2012, when goals from new signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla and a standout performance from Abou Diaby gave them a 2-0 win. Mikel Arteta started in midfield that day, which gives a sense of just how far the two clubs have moved on in the interim.
While Arteta has presided over three wins against Liverpool as Arsenal manager – including one victory at Anfield in the last 16 of the League Cup, which was decided on penalties – his side’s last Premier League visit ended in a 3-1 defeat. It’s a cause for concern ahead of the weekend, even if Arsenal are coming into the game on the back of a three-match winning streak in the league and a 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
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“It is always a test, it is a fascinating stadium to play football in,” Arteta said when asked about the difficulties of playing Liverpool away from home. “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 really feel as a footballer you are in a place where you really have to give your best and, when you do, it’s an incredible feeling, because you have overcome a really difficult and challenging situation.”
Arteta and Jurgen Klopp following Arsenal's 3-1 defeat at Anfield last September
Image credit: Getty Images
Asked about Arsenal’s poor record at Anfield, Arteta did his best to explain why it’s been so long since they last beat Liverpool on Merseyside. “I don’t know [why we haven’t won there more], obviously the quality of the opponent has a big say,” he said.
“It’s not a coincidence that last year as well before we went to Old Trafford [we hadn’t won for a long time], it was I don’t know how many years before we won at Stamford Bridge the same, but first of all 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 and go to Anfield tomorrow and then, as I said, you have to raise individually your game to your best, emotionally, physically, technically and tactically.
“You have to be able to suffer in the right moments, because there are going to be moments where you’re going to have to do that and then as a team you have to have very clear ideas of what you’re going to do on that pitch to beat that side.”
Arsenal’s hopes of ending their winless streak at Anfield may depend on the fitness of Thomas Partey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, both of whom require late assessments before a final decision is made on their involvement.
“We have a lot of players who have been through some different games, issues, little injuries, so today we have to test everybody and see how we are to play tomorrow,” Arteta added.
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Liverpool will be without Roberto Firmino, Joe Gomez, Naby Keita and James Milner, though Jordan Henderson, Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane could all still feature as the Reds look to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to West Ham just before the international break.
“Robbo was lucky, we can probably say… he was smart enough to [make] the right decision, he went off early, which he usually is not doing, but in this case it was absolutely right, and so there’s a good chance that he can be involved at the weekend,” Jurgen Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com on Thursday.
“Hendo, a little bit more [injured] than Robbo but a chance for the weekend. So we are working on that. It’s not a serious injury, but in this short period of time we have to see if he is ready for Saturday. But after that, 100 per cent, and possibly for Arsenal as well.
“Sadio is fine – painful but fine. Everybody who [has] had a rib bruise knows it’s an annoying thing. But Sad trained here with us now in all sessions.
“We took him out a little bit earlier here and there when we knew now it will be full contact, stuff like this, just to give it a bit more time to settle. But he looks fine.”
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