Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has claimed that he expected Liverpool to be pushing for the Premier League title this season.
Arteta’s Gunners side have been a surprise contender for a first title since 2004, currently sitting top of the table. Their form has slipped in recent weeks though, allowing Manchester City to creep to within touching distance of them.
The two teams meet at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow evening, with City handed the chance to go within a point of Arsenal. And speaking to the press before the game, Arteta suggested that to see City at the top isn’t a surprise, although he had expected Liverpool to be there too.
“We knew from the beginning [of the season] that City was the team to beat, probably with Liverpool, because of what those teams have done in the last six or seven years,” he said. “They’ve fully deserved that credit and to be at the top.
“We were the ones that wanted to be closing that gap as much as we possibly could, and we are toe-to-toe with them [City].”
Liverpool hark back to heady days
As Arsenal and City prepare to go head-to-head tomorrow, Liverpool are gearing up for a big match of their own. But rather than a title being on the line, the Reds are simply battling it out to finish in the top six.
The reasons for Liverpool’s fall from the top of the league table have been poured over all season. As much as they all make relative sense to some degree, it doesn’t make it any less painful.
What we’d give to be in Arsenal’s shoes now. Heading to the Etihad with a very real shot of pulling clear at the top of the league.
Of course, City will be feeling the same. How is it that they always seem to have a date with their closest rivals at home during April? Win tonight and you’d back Pep Guardiola’s side to go all the way yet again.
It will hurt Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool to watch all this unfold without them this year. But they don’t have time to lick their wounds, there’s too much to do to ensure that the Reds are back at the top next season.
If they are, then you’d fancy they’ll be battling City once again rather than Arsenal. Arteta has built the foundations of a very good team, but do they have what it takes to challenge year after year? The jury’s out. As for Liverpool, they certainly have been. They’ll have to prove it again during 2023/24.