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Arsenal “galvanised” & the 3 Gunners who could ruin Liverpool’s weekend

An in-form Arsenal head to Liverpool full of confidence this weekend, with Gunners supporters dreaming of a rare win at Anfield.

Liverpool return to Premier League action still licking their wounds after their 3-2 defeat to West Ham, on what was a sobering afternoon.

A big response is needed on Saturday evening, with a vibrant young Arsenal side jumping to fifth in the table and just two points behind the Reds.

It is a massive 90 minutes for Jurgen Klopp‘s men and more dropped points after only one point in the last two games would be another huge setback in the title challenge.

Ahead of the game, we spoke to Arsenal fan and award-winning illustrator/author Matty Long (@Matty_Long) to get his thoughts on both teams and Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated clash.

 

How happy are you with Arsenal’s start to the season?

Liverpool's Rhys Williams (left) and Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah battle for the ball during the Carabao Cup fourth round match at Anfield, Liverpool.

The response to those disastrous opening three games has been terrific.

We are currently in the mixer for a European place and I’m not sure you can realistically ask for more given where this squad of players – and indeed the manager – is in their development.

I’ve not enjoyed watching and supporting Arsenal this much in a long while – the club feels galvanised, at least for now.

 

Do you have faith in Arteta or is there still work to do?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 3, 2021: Arsenal's manager Mikel Arteta during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There’s still plenty of work to do, but progress has been made in getting the attack to click.

We start games better now when we used to shuffle around aimlessly for the first 45 minutes before sometimes giving it a go in the second half.

I’m aware that our resurgence is based on a pretty small sample size of performances, so Mikel Arteta’s next task is building continuity and making sure this team can respond in the right way to the inevitable bumps in the road to come.

 

Who are Arsenal’s three most important players?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 3, 2021: Arsenal's Thomas Partey (R) and Liverpool's Sadio Mané (L) during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

You could easily make a case for nine or 10 of our starting XI, but I think we have a spine that will serve us well for years to come, all going well.

Gabriel has had a superb start to the season and might be quietly maturing into one of the best centre-backs in the league, after an iffy start to his Arsenal career.

Thomas Partey is instrumental to us moving the ball through midfield yet still gives the impression there is more to come from him.

Finally, Emile Smith Rowe has more stamina and end product than I thought I’d be seeing from him this early in the season.

 

What are your realistic aspirations for the season?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 3, 2021: Arsenal's Martin Ødegaard during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Is top-four on? Maybe, if a certain Manchester club continue to baffle us all with their ineptitude at every level.

Realistically, though, over the course of a season, I think we would do very well for this young squad to get fifth or sixth.

That should still be the aim and anything better would be incredible.

 

How are you assessing Liverpool’s title chances?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 7, 2021: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool are one of three potential winners.

They still play the most entertaining football, but I wonder if injuries and squad depth might scupper their chances in the end.

 

Which Reds player would you most like to see in an Arsenal shirt?

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the fourth goal, the eighth consecutive game he's scored in, during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Haha, seriously? We’ll take super Mo Salah thank you very much.

He’s just one of those players that gets on the ball and you’re off your seat. Players like that don’t come around too often.

Alexis Sanchez was the last one for us. Everything seems possible when they’re on the ball and there is nothing more exciting.

 

Where do you see the key battles taking place on Saturday?

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 12, 2021: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I know Liverpool have marauders on the wings but I’m quite confident in our own full-backs to keep them under control, so I think the game will be won and lost through the middle.

You are battling injuries in midfield and we’re waiting to see if Partey has recovered from the illness that kept him out of international duty.

We are already missing Granit Xhaka, too.

We will need a massive performance from our centre-back duo of Gabriel and Ben White to have any hope of leaving with something.

 

Finally, what’s your prediction?

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reacts during the Premier League match at the London Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday November 7, 2021.

It’s hard to shake the feeling we’ll get slapped as usual, but West Ham and Brighton have shown you can get at Liverpool this season.

Can we? Not sure.

I will go with 2-0 to you guys.

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