It is close to a must-win match for Arsenal, but it is definitely a mustn't-lose one for the Gunners, who host champions Liverpool at the Emirates on Wednesday.
Mikael Arteta's club are on the fringes of the Europa League race, entering this match ninth on 50 points and ahead of Burnley on goal difference. It is possible seventh or even eighth place could provide a path to the Europa League qualifying rounds, but Arsenal (12-14-9) are clearly in danger of missing out on continental play for the first time since 1995-96 -- which was the last full season in north London before Arsene Wenger arrived.
I'm going to keep going and I'm going to try to persuade the boys to keep going, and fight until we have a little bit of hope and until it's mathematically impossible," Arteta told the team's official website. "This is where we are."
The FA Cup semifinalists had a modest four-match unbeaten streak in league play end Sunday with a 2-1 north London derby loss at Tottenham Hotspur. The defeat encapsulated everything about Arsenal over the past few seasons as they look to regain their footing in a climb back to the elite, some captivating offense mixed with slapstick defending.
Alexander Lacazette provided the former with a well-taken right-footed shot from outside the box on 16 minutes for a lead, only to give it back three minutes later. Slack defending on a corner led to Tottenham's winner, with the smaller Kiernan Tierney no match for Toby Alderweireld in an aerial duel to meet Heung-Min Song's corner in the 81st minute.
"We gave them the game again, an individual error and the set-piece that cost us three points again," the Arsenal gaffer stated. "We will improve there and we know how important they are in big matches. We talked about it before the game today that set-pieces in this game are crucial, and today it cost us the three points."
Lacazette, the subject of rumours regarding his future at season's end, has found his shooting boots of late with two goals in his last three matches. The Frenchman has a goal and an assist in five career appearances versus Liverpool, landing on the scoresheet when he was in Arsenal's first XI on two occasions.
The champions' bid to set a European record for points came to an end with three matches remaining following a 1-1 draw at Anfield versus Burnley on Saturday. Liverpool (30-3-2) can still match Juventus' continental standards of 33 wins and 102 points established in 2013-14 if they win out, but their margin of error for joining the 2017-18 Manchester City side as the lone centurions in English football has been substantially reduced.
Also going by the wayside was Liverpool's chance to become the first English football club to run the table at home in the top flight since the 1891-92 Sunderland side won all 13 of their matches. The Reds looked in control early through Andrew Robertson's goal on 34 minutes, but a string of fine saves by Burnley's Nick Pope coupled by an opportunistic equaliser from the Clarets – and a late break for Liverpool when a Burnley shot thumped the crossbar – resulted in a split of the points.
Jurgen Klopp, who cut a frustrated figure similar to his strikers at points during Saturday's match, is optimistic his club will provide a suitable response, aided with an extra day of rest compared to his London counterparts.
"We have one more day. The last seven days now were really incredible, three games in pretty much a week is unbelievable in that moment," the gaffer told Liverpool's official website. "But it is how it is and now we have one day more and then hopefully we can completely recover.
"We will and then we go again against Arsenal, which will be an interesting one."
There has yet to be any word from the FA if Robertson will face any disciplinary measures for a post-match rant at referee David Coote in which he unloaded a series of expletives making his case for a missed penalty call to be reviewed by VAR after being felled by Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
The Scotland international was not the only one agitated by the lack of a call as fellow wide back Trent Alexander-Arnold also dropped a few expletives with some choice words on the decision.
Liverpool are looking to complete the double after a 3-1 romp at Anfield in August. The Reds seized control of the match by scoring all of their goals in an 18-minute span bridging the halves, with Joel Matip providing the lead before halftime and Mo Salah on the double after.
Lucas Torreira provided a consolation strike five minutes from time for Arsenal. The clubs also played to a wild 5-5 draw in the round of 16 in the Carabao Cup in October, with rallying from a pair of two-goal deficits and extending the match to penalties through Divick Origi in stoppage time. The Reds then won the shootout when Caomihin Keller denied Dani Ceballos in the fifth round of kicks.
Liverpool are 5-5-0 in their last 10 in all competitions versus Arsenal since a 4-1 defeat at the Emirates in 2015 and 1-3-0 in their last four visits to the red side of north London.
Updated July 13, 2020