Arsenal ‘don’t ever want to play Liverpool’, jokes Unai Emery ahead of Anfield shootout between unbeaten sides

Unai Emery joked Arsenal “don’t ever want to play against Liverpool” ahead of this Saturday’s Premier League clash, but he is prepared to unleash his full-strength attack on Jurgen Klopp’s side in an effort to prove they have closed the gap to the top two.

Nicolas Pepe is yet to make his first start for Arsenal since becoming their club-record signing with his £72m summer arrival, but the prospect of the right winger lining up alongside Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang appears to be edging closer.

Only Arsenal can rival Liverpool for maintaining their 100 per cent records through the opening two rounds of fixtures – though Manchester United can join them if they beat Wolves on Monday night – but that will have to change when they meet at Anfield on Saturday evening, and it is not a task that Emery is looking forward to.

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With memories of last season’s 5-1 humbling at Liverpool still very fresh in the memory, Arsenal have been tasked by their manager to show that they are not the same team that rolled over so easily last December.

“For us, we don’t ever want to play against Liverpool – but it’s really a challenge, a good test,” Emery said.


Arsenal vs Burnley player ratings





1/23 Arsenal vs Burnley player ratings

2/23 Bernd Leno – 6 out of 10

3/23 Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 6

4/23 Sokratis Papastathopoulos – 6

5/23 David Luiz – 7

6/23 Nacho Monreal – 6

7/23 Matteo Guendouzi – 6

8/23 Dani Ceballos – 8

9/23 Joe Willock – 7

10/23 Reiss Nelson – 6

11/23 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 8

12/23 Alexandre Lacazette – 7

13/23 Nick Pope – 6

14/23 Matt Lowton – 7

15/23 Ben Mee – 6

16/23 James Tarkowski – 7

17/23 Erik Pieters – 6

18/23 Johann Berg Gudmundsson – 6

19/23 Ashley Westwood – 6

20/23 Jack Cork – 6

21/23 Dwight McNeil – 7

22/23 Chris Wood – 6

23/23 Ashley Barnes – 7

1/23 Arsenal vs Burnley player ratings

2/23 Bernd Leno – 6 out of 10

3/23 Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 6

4/23 Sokratis Papastathopoulos – 6

5/23 David Luiz – 7

6/23 Nacho Monreal – 6

7/23 Matteo Guendouzi – 6

8/23 Dani Ceballos – 8

9/23 Joe Willock – 7

10/23 Reiss Nelson – 6

11/23 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 8

12/23 Alexandre Lacazette – 7

13/23 Nick Pope – 6

14/23 Matt Lowton – 7

15/23 Ben Mee – 6

16/23 James Tarkowski – 7

17/23 Erik Pieters – 6

18/23 Johann Berg Gudmundsson – 6

19/23 Ashley Westwood – 6

20/23 Jack Cork – 6

21/23 Dwight McNeil – 7

22/23 Chris Wood – 6

23/23 Ashley Barnes – 7

“Really our target is to reduce the distance [between us] and Manchester City and Liverpool last season, and when we go to play against them it’s a big moment to show how [much stronger] we can be.”

But part of his optimism stems from having the possibility of deploying Pepe from kick-off for the first time, which would give Arsenal a similar attacking-trio approach to what Liverpool deploy in Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane – albeit who have a proven track record.

“Last week you asked me if we are better now than last year – I don’t know. It’s the same if you ask if we are going to be stronger with those three players up front,” Emery added.

“We need all the players to show how we are going to make a big difference to last year with the points.

“But I really think we have the spirit in the dressing room and I am very happy because I am seeing the team involved in this process now.

“We are going there (to Anfield) with six points from two games. Next week is a very good match for every supporter of Arsenal.”

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