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Unai Emery accepts that Arsenal won’t be able to impose their style for the entire 90 minutes when Jurgen Klopp’s high-flying Liverpool visit the Emirates tomorrow night.
Up against the speed and trickery of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Xherdan Shaqiri, he has called on his players to deliver big performances and to win their one-on-one duels.
With doubts lingering over the fitness of full-backs on both sides of the pitch, it’s going to be a tall order for the home side, even though Emery backs the quality of his squad.
“It’s a very big test because it’s against Liverpool, they are a very good team, an intense team and they require a lot of work for us to battle them but I believe in our team and our players,” the Spaniard said in his pre-game press conference.
“We are also doing our way. Historically, they say there are a lot of goals in matches between Arsenal and Liverpool and the most important thing for us is that every supporter can enjoy this match. But we want to enjoy winning.”
He added: “We want to not allow them to have or to do, in the 90 minutes, their jobs. They have quality with individual players and also their collective and tactical capacity also.
“One is their transitions, two is also that they are developing a lot with the goalkeeper because they build up on this work with Alisson and the centre-backs and the midfield players.
“They can progress on the pitch with a lot of quality, starting with Alisson. And also, when they are playing in the transition and attacking moments with very quick players like Mane, like Firmino and like Salah.
“We need also to do a big match in individual duels against them and also tactically, I think we need to be together and play with our capacity, identity and style and we need to impose on them.
“It’s very difficult and not possible for 90 minutes to impose our style in every moment but in moments in the game, we need to impose our style and ideas and our quality with our players and this is the duel for the 90 minutes.”
It’s sure to be an entertaining encounter at the Emirates. As Emery alluded to, it is indeed a fixture that revels in goals. There have been 147 goals in 52 clashes since the Premier League started in 1992, an average of 2.82 per game. The last five league meetings alone have produced 27 goals, an average of 5.4 per match.
It’s also a very difficult fixture. We’ve not beaten the Reds in six meetings, our longest run since a 12-game winless run between 1994 and 2000.