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Josh Barker: Why Liverpool resurgence is good for Arsenal


This past weekend saw Manchester City and Liverpool meet at the Etihad in a top-of-the-table clash.

A win for either side would have seen them go top of the division. But when all was said and done, the points were shared.

This was great news for Arsenal who beat Brentford later in the day to overtake both sides to reach the Premier League summit. This is the second time in Premier League history the top two have met but neither has finished the day top of the table, after 28th November 2015 (Leicester 1-1 Man Utd, Man City ended day top).

After securing the win over Brentford to take top spot, Bukayo Saka was asked whether he and his teammates were able to watch the Man City game, and admitted that the result changed the team talk before the Gunners’ match.

“Yeah, and what a game by the way,” he said. “I watched that game, really high quality, and of course, the draw was a good result for us.

“All of us knew, the boys said it in the team talk, this was a chance to go top of the league and we took that. So we’re happy.”

Arsenal’s win on Saturday was excellent for a number of reasons. Obviously, they went top of the Premier League, but the manner in which they won was impressive.

Kai Havertz came off the bench to net the only goal of the game in the 89th minute. Arsenal have now had 10 goals scored by substitutes in all competitions this season, the joint most of any Premier League side.

After Havertz’s winner, Mikel Arteta was asked if the late wins are creating a narrative around Arsenal like Manchester United had with Fergie time, to which he responded: “I prefer to score three in the first half. We created some big chances to score and we had the disallowed goal. But if you don’t the team needs to have that resilience. It shows as well the impact and the importance of the finishers. Today they were crucial again.”

While Arteta would prefer to get his games over and done with early, Arsenal should still be pleased with how they are winning this term. The true sign of a champion is picking up wins even when not at your best, and the north Londoners have done that several times this season.

It shows a maturity and resilience Arsenal perhaps did not have last campaign when they bottled the title in April.

Another key difference between 2023/24 and 2022/23 is Arsenal are no longer the only side breathing down Man City’s neck, as Liverpool are back to their best following a rather spectacular collapse last time out.

Liverpool’s resurgence is of great benefit to Arteta’s side because, given the history between City and Liverpool, a lot of the media attention is being focused on their battle for the Premier League crown.

This was not the case in 2022/23, with Arsenal instead under a lot of pressure to win their first title since 2004. Arsenal still have, despite big summer spending, one of the youngest squads and youngest manager in the Premier League.

And though there were other factors involved, such as the injury to William Saliba, this lack of experience under huge pressure led to the Gunners’ rather embarrassing collapse.

But with the majority of the focus now back on Manchester City and Liverpool, this should allow Arsenal to quietly go about their business without too much pressure and potentially secure the Premier League crown.

Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.