Arsenal and Liverpool are set to face each other for the fourth time this season when they take to the pitch at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening, in what will be match No. 27 for the Gunners and No. 29 for the Reds. Needless to say, the fact that they’ve met three times already puts a bit of added edge on the fixture, on top of the points on offer being of vital importance for both sides.
It’s fair to say that Arsenal are on the rise at the moment. They’ve come a long way indeed since the three consecutive defeats at the start of the season which had them briefly in the relegation zone and with three teams spending most of the season eyeing the title, the Gunners are now odds-on to take that fourth spot which warrants a place in next season’s Champions League.
Sitting currently fourth with 51 points, they have three games in hand on Manchester United (fifth, 50 points), West Ham (sixth, 48) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (seventh, 46), and one game in hand on arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur (eighth, 45). With a bit of luck, they even might challenge Chelsea, who have 59 points with two games played more, for the third place.
Ironically, the last defeat Arsenal suffered in any competition was the work of Liverpool at the Emirates, when the Merseysiders brushed them aside on their way to win the Carabao Cup back on January 20th. Since then, they played a goalless draw at home against Burnley, followed by five consecutive wins. They beat Wolves twice (0-1 away and 2-1 at home) in two thrilling contests with a 2-1 home win over Brentford squeezed in between, and after that, they beat Watford at the Vicarage by 2-3 and Leicester City 2-0 at the Emirates.
Having already secured silverware for this season by beating Chelsea on penalties in the Carabao Cup final, Liverpool would’ve been expected to feel under less pressure from that point on if there weren’t for the slight aspect of still being very much in with a chance to win the Premier League title, the FA Cup and the Champions League, where they’ve secured a place in the quarterfinals.
As for the title race, it got much more interesting on Monday evening when Manchester City played a goalless draw away to Crystal Palace. The defending champions still lead the way with 70 points, but Liverpool are now only four points behind with a game in hand. It obviously means that the Merseysiders see the Emirates trip as the perfect opportunity to get even closer, and they’re yet to play City next month.
The problem that’s currently bugging Jurgen Klopp and his team the most is surely the uncertainty around the future of Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian has been integral to their successes since joining the club in 2017, but the talks between the club and the player’s representative are apparently at a standoff at the moment. His current contract expires in 2023 and if no breakthrough is found between now and the end of the season, Liverpool might be tempted to consider offers for his services this summer already.
Despite various claims about Salah’s professionalism and the situation not affecting his form, the fact remains that he scored his last Premier League goal (not counting penalties) on February 19th, almost a month ago.
Speaking of form, Liverpool’s last-six run in all competitions consists of a 6-0 thrashing of Leeds United at home, the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea which they won on penalties after 120 goalless minutes, a 2-1 win over Norwich City in the FA Cup, a 1-0 triumph at home over West Ham, a 0-1 defeat at home at the hands of Inter Milan in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 (they had won the first leg in Milan by 0-2), and a 0-2 win away to Brighton and Hove Albion.