Unai Emery admits the gap that currently exists between Liverpool and Arsenal is a “big” one, but the Spaniard believes his side can show they are ready to start reducing it with a result at Anfield on Saturday.
The Gunners travel to Merseyside having won their opening two games of the Premier League season for the first time in a decade, but they still sit behind Liverpool in the table.
Jurgen Klopp’s side having also won both of their matches so far, but top the standings on goal difference, thanks largely to their convincing 4-1 success against Norwich on the opening weekend.
So, Arsenal have it all to do on Saturday, at a ground where they were beaten 5-1 last season and have conceded 12 goals in their last three appearances.
Emery is aware of the challenge facing his side but has urged his players to show they are ready to start bridging the gap that currently exists between them, Liverpool and champions Manchester City.
“We are in a good spirit and we have good preparation,” said Arsenal’s head coach. “We need more with some players getting fit to help us, but we are ready to get a good performance from the players.
“I feel that we have improved, above all being competitive in the Premier League. We lost at the end [last season] but we also had some very good moments in the season and finished one or two points different from third and fourth in the table.
“Right now, the distance between Manchester City, Liverpool and us continues to be big but we have the opportunity on Saturday, and this season, to reduce that distance.”
Emery added: “Liverpool have a very strong style. Their mentality is very, very strong. They are adding titles and I think we are doing it our way to create a big mentality.
“We also need time. I think they have an advantage on us in this way. But I really appreciate their work a lot. I think their performance is amazing, their spirit and quality also. They are a team that can feel strong.
“I want to create our mentality, our style, and get stronger in our way little by little. And each match is a very big opportunity to show how we are now.
“Saturday against them is a massive match, an amazing opportunity for us to do something important.”
Arsenal’s 5-1 hammering at Anfield last season is still fresh in the mind of Emery.
Despite taking an early lead through Ainsley Maitland-Niles, the Gunners found themselves 4-1 down at half-time - with Liverpool adding a fifth in the second half.
It was a painful defeat for Arsenal, one that Emery hopes his players have learned from.
He said: “We conceded two penalties which is not normal also we were winning 1-0 and we conceded two goals very quickly from mistakes.
“I want us to not have those mistakes this year, but they are going to break and fight against us to provoke us into mistakes.”
In each of Arsenal’s opening two games of the season, Emery has started with three academy products in Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Maitland-Niles.
It could be that that only Maitland-Niles keeps his place at Anfield, with Nicolas Pepe and Granit Xhaka expected to come in - but Emery believes that the young players currently coming through at Arsenal are about to make a major mark on English football.
“They are coming. They are coming in the near future to be very big players,” predicted Emery.
“We need to achieve a big mentality, a big spirit, with some experienced players and some young players, because they are giving us a lot of energy, a lot of power in their wish to achieve and help us.”
He added: “We really need the young players to share their energy and capacity and hunger and we need also the experienced players. We need both. Not only for Saturday but each match.
“For example, Reiss Nelson started against Burnley in the first 11. He struggled more than we wanted that match, but that is one experience for him.
“I am speaking to him and saying: ‘Reiss you are very good one on one, but you also need tactically to improve in how to decide each action on the pitch technically.’
“This is one process for Reiss and Saturday in Liverpool is another step.”