Arsenal vs Liverpool | Five classic Premier League encounters

Mikel Arteta’s young Gunners put their title credentials on the line against Jürgen Klopp’s Reds desperate to get back into the race for Champions League football

Andrey Arshavin Arsenal

Sunday evening sees the 77th time that Arsenal and Liverpool lock horns in the Premier League era since the face of football in England changed in 1992-92 as Mikel Arteta’s league-leading young Gunners welcome Jürgen Klopp’s struggling Reds who are desperate to get back on track and into the conversation for Champions League football.

Arsenal continues to defy pre-season expectations as they have won seven of their eight league clashes under Arteta while sitting top of the league, and will put their title credentials on the line for the second-consecutive weekend after they saw off Antonio Conte’s Tottenham in a 3-1 North London Derby win after many were convinced the club’s youthful exuberance would be their undoing against the know-how of Conte.

As for Liverpool, they are undefeated in their last four league outings (2-2-0) and have only tasted defeat just once in a 2-1 loss to Manchester United, the same side that ironically gifted Arsenal their only league loss on record in 2022-23.

But despite the aforementioned, the Reds already sit eleven points off Arsenal and have managed to accrue just ten points after eight fixtures in a run of matches that lies in stark contrast to what many have come to expect from Klopp’s men, with scrutiny of the German tactician now being levied akin to his final months at Borussia Dortmund.

This has all the storylines to make for a potentially season-defining match, and then some. But how will it stack against some of the greatest clashes between these two giants of English football across the history of the Premier League era? Here are five such matches that have helped define one of the biggest domestic league rivalries in the country. Sunday will have plenty to live up to.

“He has won the FA Cup final for Liverpool all by himself”

Arsenal and Liverpool have been one of the era-defining fixtures in the Premier League since its inception, and by the time the 2001 FA Cup final rolled around, the Reds boasted a 14-4-3 record against the Gunners across all competitions since 1992-93, and they would once again prove to be one of the north London club’s biggest bugbears in a 2-1 comeback win at the Millennium Stadium.

Freddie Ljungberg put Arsenal ahead on 72-minutes but the Gunners should have been two goals to the good at least after spurning a handful of guilt-edged chances while also being denied a penalty after Stephane Henchoz’s clear handball on the line to deny Thierry Henry went unpushed. Then, Michael Owen would step up and bag a five-minute brace late in the second half to seal their trophy celebration.

An Invincibles Comeback Win at Highbury

The Gunners turned a corner against the Reds starting in the fall of 2001 in the immediate aftermath of their FA Cup loss and enjoyed a run of eight matches that saw Arsène Wenger’s men avoid defeat (5-3-0) which ultimately culminated in a season for the history books when Arsenal was not only crowned Premier League champions but Invincibles, after going the entire 2003-04 league campaign without a loss on their CV.

But Liverpool so nearly capitalized on an Arsenal side left reeling after being knocked out of both the Champions League and FA Cup by Chelsea and Manchester United respectively. Highbury was the stage for a season-defining comeback when Liverpool led at halftime by a 2-1 scoreline thanks to goals from Sami Hyypiä and Michael Owen after Thierry Henry had pulled the Gunners level on 31-minutes. But Wenger’s men came out in the second half another beast entirely, one worthy of their honor that still stands to this day, with Henry scoring two more times in the second forty-five to secure his hat-trick while Robert Pires added his name to the scoresheet for good measure. The rest, as they say, is history.

Carling Cup goal-fest at Anfield

There have been some absolute blockbusters between Arsenal and Liverpool over the years since the beginning of the Premier League era, and many of them have featured heavy goal tallies come the end of full-time. Out of 76 meetings between the two since 1992-93, 23 have featured four goals or more on the scoresheet in what has historically been a high-scoring affair by comparison.

There is no better flag-bearer for that reality than Arsenal’s 6-3 Carling Cup quarterfinal win at Anfield which was the perfect way for the Gunners to accentuate a run of four matches against the Reds that saw them come out on top as winners. Brazilian forward Julio Baptiste put in what was his best-ever appearance for Arsenal when he scored four goals - which could have been five if not for having a penalty saved by Jerzy Dudek - while former French prodigy Jérémie Aliadière added a goal and a hat-trick of assists. It would be the last time Arsenal beat Liverpool for two years.

Reds title hopes dented by the Prince that was promised

Two years after Arsenal went rampant at Anfield in their 6-3 Carling Cup win over Liverpool, that total goal tally was nearly matched when these two sides once again featured in a clash with goal-mouth action to entertain neutrals while dishing-out heart palpitations if you were on either side of the aisle in what was a tremendously entertaining 4-4 draw on Merseyside that featured 90-minutes of magic from a little Russian prince named Andrey Arshavin.

Signed just a few months before from Russian outfit Zenit Saint Petersburg during the winter transfer window, Arshavin was billed as a player who could help Arsenal reach another level while being viewed as a top-class player after an excellent outing at Euro 2008. What transpired at Anfield that night went down in Premier League lore and remains one of the most iconic moments in the history of the competition after the diminutive winger bagged four goals in what was his best-ever performance in Arsenal colors. Though Liverpool leveled matters late, it was a match for the ages all the same.

“This was the best we’ve played since I arrived at the club”

Arsenal’s goalscoring exploits have been well documented in our last two choices, so closing with one in Liverpool’s corner seems fair, and their 5-1 demolition job over the Gunners in front of the Kop in 2014 is one of the best examples of the iconic club putting their opposition to the sword in a historically imposing place to play.

Liverpool was under the guidance of now Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers at the time and with the likes of a then superb Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Luis Suárez, and Philippe Coutinho all in the front four with Steven Gerrard still plying his trade at the club so near and dear to his heart, Liverpool reminded Arsenal who called the shots in England on the back of a pair of braces from Martin Skrtel and the aforementioned Sturridge while Sterling also chimed in on the scoresheet. Liverpool was up 5-0 before the Gunners found a paltry consolation prize through now-Arsenal tactician Mikel Arteta, but the damage was already done. Liverpool narrowly missed out on winning the league by just two points but what a day to remember.

Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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