Unai Emery believes Arsenal are closer to Liverpool than last season

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Unai Emery believes Arsenal are closer to Liverpool than last season despite another chastening experience at Anfield.

Having lost 5-1 last December, the Gunners were beaten 3-1 this time but were under pressure for the vast majority of the game and faced 25 shots.

It took Liverpool until just before half-time to make the breakthrough, Joel Matip heading in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner. Mohamed Salah’s double early in the second half threatened to make it another battering but Arsenal rallied and substitute Lucas Torreira scored a consolation.

Emery said: “It was not all we wanted to do in the match because we wanted to keep the ball more, but their pressing was very strong. The second half the key was the penalty. I think (it was) very soft, I think usually it is not enough.

“But we continued our way, we opened more and they gave us more space to keep the ball. In the transition they are very strong and they scored the third goal.

“It was the moment we needed to show something different – not frustration, not (heads) going down. I think we showed character, also the impact with Lucas Torreira, with (Alexandre) Lacazatte and Mhiki (Henrikh Mkhitarayan) was good.

“Some players today made one step ahead, like (Joe) Willock, I think also it was a good match for (Nicolas) Pepe and Matteo (Guendouzi). (Dani) Ceballos struggled more than last week but it is one experience more for him.

“We need to be optimistic. I think we reduced the distance with Liverpool. At the moment it’s not enough but I think we can be, in some issues, positive.”

Emery admitted full-back Nacho Monreal, who played the full game, could leave the club before the closure of the European transfer window having been heavily linked with a move to Real Sociedad.

“With Nacho, one possibility is open and we are going to speak about that,” said the Gunners boss.

On the continued absence from the squad of Mesut Ozil, he added: “Today they are here the players who we think they were the best physically and to play today.”

Liverpool are now the only Premier League side with a 100 per cent record this season and extended their winning run to 12 league matches.

Jurgen Klopp felt this performance represented a step up, saying: “I was really happy with a lot of parts of the game. I think everything we did well in the first four games we did tonight longer, more precise and better attuned.

“And I loved the desire, the passion, the power, the energy we put into this game that made us really uncomfortable to play against. We have a lot to improve but it was a big step tonight and I’m really happy.”

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Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City can surpass their 2018-19 title-winning campaign

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

Pep Guardiola claimed last weekend’s draw against Tottenham proved his Manchester City side could go even better than last season.

City piled up 100 Premier League points in the 2017-18 season and 98 points last campaign in claiming back-to-back titles, and both times Guardiola said they could achieve more.

Though last weekend’s 2-2 draw ended in frustration – as Gabriel Jesus’ potential late winner was ruled out by VAR for the slightest of handballs from Aymeric Laporte in the build-up – Guardiola was left purring by his side’s attacking football as they had 30 attempts at goal to Tottenham’s three.

“The way we played against Tottenham showed we can do better than last season,” said Guardiola, who takes his side to Bournemouth on Sunday.

“So few games last season (were that good), even Chelsea when we won 6-0, the Tottenham game was better than Chelsea.

“Last year we arrived in front of goal and in the first five times we scored four. In football, in all sports, it is like this, but we played better.”

The challenge for City – aside from converting more of their chances – is being able to produce such displays more regularly.

“I think it is impossible to sustain every three days playing the way we played against Tottenham,” Guardiola said.

“The emotion of the first game at home, the finalists of the Champions League, the emotion of the players, they were incredibly focused.

PeCity

“The problem when you play every three days, you have to lift them. ‘Come on, let’s go guys, it is another one and another one’, but the level was so good. It was incredible, the way we play, so we try to keep going and build up from here.”

Guardiola is trying to lead City to three consecutive titles, something not seen in English football for a decade since Manchester United’s titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Guardiola has already achieved the feat twice with both Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and believes this City side are capable too.

“I am not a guy who thinks because we have done it with Barcelona and Bayern Munich we are going to do it – those are statistics I don’t believe,” he said.

“I believe in the spirit, in the smell, in the way we played and I think we can do it.

“Of course we want to win but I didn’t feel bad against Tottenham afterwards. With the VAR again, again, again it is a little bit (frustrating) but after you sleep, you say: ‘It is OK’.”

VAR could have been irrelevant a week ago if City had simply converted their chances, but Guardiola said goals were not a problem in a City side that scored 95 in the league last season and 106 in the campaign before.

“When you look at all the goals we’ve scored in the last two seasons I don’t think you can say there are any doubts about us being able to score goals,” he said.

“We don’t have two incredible players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who score 50 or 60 goals a season but, despite that, we scored incredible amount of goals in the last two seasons.

“You don’t lose that capacity and we will continue to score.”

Provided by Press Association Sports

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Liverpool still a step ahead and other talking points from win over Arsenal

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Liverpool maintained their perfect start to the Premier League season with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal at Anfield.

Joel Matip scored the opener in the first half before a Mohamed Salah double in the second. Substitute Lucas Torreira grabbed a late consolation for the Gunners.

Here, PA picks out five things we learned from the clash.

Liverpool still a step ahead

Arsenal look to have recruited well and returning to the top four should be their target for the season but, on this showing, anything more looks unlikely.

Anfield has been a venue of horrors for the Gunners in recent seasons and they were completely outplayed again here.

Salah the sorcerer

Sadio Mane has been the main man for goals for Liverpool so far this season but here Salah stole the show. His penalty was struck with supreme confidence while his second goal was the best of the Egyptian, running past defenders and never looking for a moment like he was about to miss.

Liverpool need Alisson

Adrian may have been the Super Cup hero but Liverpool fans will be counting down the days until Alisson Becker is fit again.

After presenting Southampton with a goal last weekend, the Spaniard was shaky here in his handling and kicking and was fortunate not to cost his team again.

Pepe a handful

Arsenal gave club record signing Nicolas Pepe his full debut and it was impossible to miss the 24-year-old in his shocking pink boots.

He caught the eye with his skill, too, giving Virgil Van Dijk one of his more uncomfortable afternoons despite Liverpool’s dominance.

All that was missing from Pepe was precision in front of goal. He was prolific at Lille so Arsenal will hope that will come.

The good and the bad of David Luiz

Chelsea fans knew to expect a mixed bag from Luiz and, if this display is anything to go by, the same will be true for Arsenal supporters.

He was one of the best players on the pitch in the first half, repelling attack after attack, but a blatant pull on Salah’s shirt gave away a penalty and he was then comprehensively beaten by the Egyptian for the third.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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