Arsenal optimistic entering latest matchup with Liverpool


Arsenal will try to narrow the five-point gap on visiting league leader Liverpool when the teams meet for the third time in six weeks on Sunday.

Liverpool (15-1-6, 51 points) earned a 1-1 draw in league play against Arsenal (14-4-4, 46 points) at home on Dec. 23, and the Reds beat the Gunners 2-0 in the FA Cup third round in London on Jan. 7.

The latter result flattered Liverpool, though. Arsenal created the majority of the game’s chances, only to succumb to an 80th-minute own goal followed by Luis Diaz’s insurance tally deep in second-half stoppage time.

“Will we improve? We will see,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. “What we learn is that we have to be much more dominant in possession. There it was a typical away game. Yes, we had a few problems here and there, that’s true, and it’s a cup game, it’s all about the result, stuff like this. But I think everybody who saw the game knows that Arsenal could have scored before we scored and that could have given the game a completely different direction obviously.”

The January result also came without Liverpool star Mo Salah, who will again miss out on Sunday. The 14-goal scorer has been out most of the last month, leaving to play for Egypt at the African Cup Nations and then picking up a hamstring injury.

The FA Cup win at Arsenal was the Reds’ first game without Salah. Liverpool has adjusted exceptionally well in his absence, winning five and drawing one in all competitions. Diogo Jota has scored three of his eight Premier League goals since Salah has been sidelined.

Third-place Arsenal’s previous two results against Liverpool were the bookends of a four-match winless run in all competitions.

Since then, the Gunners have earned a dominant 5-0 home win over Crystal Palace and a gutty 2-1 victory on Tuesday at Nottingham Forest. Bukayo Saka’s team-leading seventh goal was the eventual game-winner in the latter contest, which Arsenal led 2-0 before Taiwo Awonyi’s late strike for Forest.

Now with a bit of momentum, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes it’s not about changing all that much against Liverpool aside from the end product.

“What we need to do is play the way we played in the last two games against them and be more efficient in the areas that are going to decide the game,” Arteta said. “(I’m) very excited. It’s always great to prepare a game against Liverpool. How good they are, they dominate every aspect of the game. We play at home, and what I sense is a real sense of positivity and enthusiasm around the place.”

–Field Level Media

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