Premier League • England

Barnes, Redknapp in double takes as their rarely-heard Liverpool claims show ‘how far Arsenal have come’

John Barnes, Jamie Carragher, June 2020

John Barnes and Jamie Redknapp found themselves pointing out the rarity of their claims about Liverpool and Arsenal in signs of their opposing form.

The two sides clash at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday in a defining fixture for both sides. The Gunners, fighting with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, want to prove their credentials against big rivals.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have suffered a slump after finishing two wins from a quadruple of trophies last season. Jurgen Klopp’s side are looking to hit back with a statement win in London.

Liverpool have a fantastic record over Arsenal, who have not beaten the Reds in the league since July 2020 – after Liverpool had wrapped up the Premier League title.

However, former Anfield winger Barnes has admitted that he has become unsure how Liverpool will perform this time around, a concern he has not had for several years.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t said this for a few years, we don’t know which Liverpool are going to turn up,” Barnes told Sky Sports (09/10, 1.05pm).

“They’ve been so consistent, but I’m not looking at the results against Arsenal in the last two, three, four years, because this Arsenal team is now playing with a lot of confidence.

“It’s a growing Arsenal team, they’re still young, but it really depends which Liverpool turns up.”

And Redknapp admitted that the Gunners are his firm favourites to beat Liverpool in the this time around.

“There is a real energy and appetite and I can’t remember the last time I didn’t fancy Liverpool in this fixture,” Redknapp said. “I think that shows you how far Arsenal have come.”

Arsenal need to keep focused – Merson

Paul Merson also weighed in on Arsenal’s recent progress and tackled the question of them potentially fighting for the title.

He urged Mikel Arteta’s side to stay focused on the next game, rather than focus on a winning run. Ultimately, he insisted that Champions League qualification should still be their top aim.

“The way they’ve bought in the last 18 months or so has been absolutely phenomenal and everybody’s together,” Merson said.

“I watch Man City and they’re in a different league, but you’ve just got to keep going on. You get to the end of November and the World Cup starts, you get back and there’s quick games.

“Just keep on taking it a day at a time, a game at a time. At the moment, I give them a 15 per cent chance of winning it. If they’re top of the league at the end of November, I make that a 25 per cent chance.”

Tables could turn on Liverpool in huge clash

Arsenal have a poor record against Liverpool and they have tried unsuccessfully in recent seasons to address that.

Last season, the Amazon documentary covering the Gunners showed how Arteta played ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and stadium noise through training ground speakers to try to prepare his players for a trip to Anfield.

Arsenal lost 4-0 on that occasion. They were better in their 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in March, keeping the visitors at bay for 45 minutes.

However, now is the time for Arsenal to take that next step and give the Liverpool of recent seasons a taste of their own medicine.

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