Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes it is an accumulation of issues that have derailed Liverpool’s Premier League season.
Mikel Arteta said: “I don’t know, I’m not the one to analyse what has gone wrong for them. I can talk about what they’ve done. I’ve seen a lot of games and what they’re still producing and the stats will support that. They are, if not the best, the second best team in every department that we coaches have to analyse. But then this is football, the ball has to be in that net and the final action has to provide a moment to win a football match. And then you have some individuals that dictate the quality of your team. Sometimes you cannot predict those things, so I think it’s a lot of things. 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. Obviously, it is a team where nothing has to be given to them. I prefer to look at ourselves. What they have done in recent years has been incredible. Obviously the competition that they were facing with Manchester City made both teams better and I think they’ve been pushing each other to a different level, one that we probably haven’t seen in the Premier League. That’s the level that we have to reach to compete with them. This season is so different, in particular they have had a lot of issues internally with big injuries. But they’re still amazing with what they’ve done.”
Gunners great Paul Merson claimed on Thursday afternoon that his old club could rest a number of key players for Saturday’s game due to their upcoming Europa League tie. Arsenal face Slavia Prague in the first-leg of their quarter-final tie on Thursday night, but Arteta claimed his side’s priority is solely on Liverpool.
Mikel Arteta added: “The immediate priority is Liverpool. We know that if we want to climb the table and have a chance to be in Europe next season through the Premier League, we need some consistency now in the last nine games. We need to get on a run of winning matches and the only way to do it is to start against Liverpool. We don’t have any margin and we have to win that game.”
The Reds came into the campaign looking to defend their title, but head to the Emirates this weekend 25 points behind current-leaders Manchester City. So far this season, Liverpool have been without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip and Diogo Jota for significant parts of the campaign. But despite their mounting injury list, the Reds still have a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid to come following their trip to the capital. And although the Reds’ top-four hopes are currently hanging by a thread due to their poor domestic form, Arteta is still expecting a tough game this weekend.
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