The international break seems to have come at a great time for Arsenal.
The Gunners fell off the pace with disastrous performances culminating in a two-game winless run before the international break. However, the majority of their players will be returning from the break in high spirits.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored for Gabon as they sealed qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations. Kieran Tierney was also on an assist spree for Scotland. Meanwhile, Martin Odegaard, Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny were all impressive for their respective national teams.
Arsenal's match against Liverpool on Saturday will be a match they cannot afford to lose. The Merseysiders may be on a poor run of form, but they cannot be underestimated in this fixture.
Battle for a place in Europe
Over the last three years, Liverpool have dominated in the Premier League and in Europe. However, their slump this season could see them fail to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
Arsenal haven’t been any better but are currently just four points behind Liverpool. This makes Saturday’s fixture a potential battle for a place in Europe.
While both teams look unlikely to qualify for the Champions League, sealing a place in the Europa League is very achievable.
A win for Liverpool would see them move seven points clear of Arsenal, bolstering their chances of securing European football, even if it’s the Europa League. However, the Gunners could be kissing goodbye to European football next season if they lose this match.
Arsenal are currently still in the Europa League, where they will face Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals on Thursday. However, they cannot afford to put all their eggs in one basket.
Arsenal’s best chance to beat Liverpool
Liverpool have often had the better of Arsenal in this fixture. The Reds have lost just twice in their last 13 competitive matches against the Gunners.
However, Jurgen Klopp’s men are currently out of form, and it might just be the best chance for Arsenal to finally get the better of them. The Gunners lost 3-1 when the two teams met in the Premier League last September.
Mikel Arteta said ahead of the game (as quoted by Arsenal.com):
“Against these types of teams, with the quality that they have, they are going to punish you for every error that you do. Even when you don't make errors and you do everything perfectly, they are still able to break your lines, to create an individual action and to score a goal.”
“To get the moral right, to get the confidence right, to get some momentum. The more games that we win, the team is going to be in a better state to compete in other competitions. That's why my only focus is on Liverpool now.”
Arsenal have won just two of their last five games while Liverpool have won just four of their last 10 matches.
This is a game between two underwhelming sides, but the Gunners have every reason to be optimistic.