Mikel Arteta claims Arsenal have clear Liverpool likeness and hits back at Saliba, Van Dijk probe

Mikel Arteta, October 2022

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes his side are a work in progress alongside Liverpool, after Jurgen Klopp’s admission about their form.

The two sides clash in a mouthwatering Premier League fixture at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. The Gunners come into the game in impressive form, following four straight wins.

Liverpool, though, have claimed two wins from their previous four matches, losing and drawing the others.

Still, the Reds have an impressive record against Arsenal. Klopp’s side have won five of the past nine meetings in all competitions. And Arsenal’s most recent scalp came in July 2020 – after Liverpool had won the Premier League title.

Amid Liverpool’s poor recent form, Klopp admitted on Friday that his side are a “work in progress”.

Asked if that gives Arsenal a better opportunity, Arteta was keen to reflect how Arsenal are also far from perfect.

“I think every team [is a work in progress],” the Spaniard told his pre-match press conference. “Our team is as well.

“You always want to get better and you always see the weaknesses that you want to improve. What is certain is that they are a magnificent team.”

Asked if he feels surprised at Liverpool’s inconsistent form, Arteta’s response indicated that he was well aware of their recent record against his side.

“I’m not here to judge what Liverpool are, I’m here to talk about what we’ve are,” he said.

“I think what they’ve done in the last five years doesn’t need any presentation, it’s clear that they’ve been up there in every single competition for the last five years, so credit for what they’ve done.”

Arteta rejects Saliba, Van Dijk comparisons

French centre-back William Saliba has proved crucial in Arsenal’s strong start to the season.

The 2019 signing has had to wait for his chance – often in frustration – but has taken that chance when it has arrived.

And that has led Jamie Carragher to compare his impact to that of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool.

However, Arteta was keen to protect Saliba, urging the 21-year-old to express himself and focus on his own game.

Arteta said “the way that he’s established himself and the composure he has on the pitch” are two of the defender’s best attributes.

“He’s done it in a really natural way, without any flashy lights, just being himself, being very quiet and at the same time very confident,” the manager added.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has said that his former side could well be Premier League title challengers alongside Manchester City if they can keep in touch with the current champions.

“It’s great that people who love the club so much and know the club very well have such an opinion about it,” Arteta said.

“Now we have to show that on the pitch. Hopefully he’s right like he has been right in many other occasions.”

Gunners have big win under their belts already

Arsenal’s mixed record against their top-six rivals has been one of their biggest criticisms in recent seasons.

And their record against Liverpool is proof of why this is the next big step in Arteta’s Arsenal progression.

The early-season defeat to Manchester United added to those concerns.

But, last week’s big win over then-unbeaten Tottenham was a big feather in Arsenal’s cap.

And they will be looking to claim another big scalp of Liverpool, which would go a long way to turning their record against the Reds around.