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Souness: Angry Liverpool have a point to prove vs Arsenal

An "angry Liverpool" will show up at Anfield determined to make up for their first defeat of the season when they play Arsenal on Saturday evening, says Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were beaten 3-2 at West Ham before the international break, a result which ended a 25-game undefeated streak stretching back into last season.Mikel Arteta’s in-form Arsenal will head to Merseyside optimistic of also securing a victory over Liverpool, given their own 10-game unbeaten run, but Souness – speaking on the Essential Football Podcast – reckons the Liverpool players’ desperation to make amends this weekend will prove too much.”I think Liverpool will be the angry team, having lost last time out and not really got up to their normal standards,” he said.

“I expect a full-throttle Liverpool against an Arsenal team who will be turning up with a bit of confidence but I’d be cautious of that, given the teams they’ve been playing of late and beating. They’ve not exactly been top-of-the-table teams.”An average Leicester, a draw with Brighton, wins over Watford, Norwich and beating a very poor Spurs. Arsenal have garnered some confidence from winning games and they’re sitting in a very healthy position in the league but the hard part of their season is ahead.

“They got thumped by Manchester City earlier in the season, which must have been a bit of a punch in the nose for them. They seem to be scoring a few goals and defending better and have more creativity in midfield. If you’re an Arsenal fan, I suppose you’ll be quite chuffed with it.”But this is an acid test for them at the weekend, going to Anfield and playing against a Liverpool team who normally are on fire at home.

“What big teams do is normally respond to the loss. They don’t like that taste in their mouth. I think you’ll see a full-throttle Liverpool this weekend. And that will give Arsenal supporters an idea of where they are.

“If you’re a big player and you’re playing at a big team, the Liverpool players will not enjoy this international break with two weeks of having the taste of losing last time out.

They will be coming back with angry heads on and the crowd will be up for it, as they always are at Anfield.”Liverpool’s defeat to West Ham followed a draw at home to Brighton but Souness insists that, despite those two blips, this is a side among the top three favourites for the Premier League title, along with Man City and Chelsea.

Klopp is currently having to contend with a large number of injuries and while Souness expects his former club to find a way to win regardless this weekend, he says the fitness of key players over the course of the season could be the deciding factor in a tight title race between those three sides.

“Prior to the Brighton game, Liverpool were on fire and everyone was talking about how good they were doing,” he said.”We’re asked to comment on a week-by-week basis, so right now, people are saying ‘Liverpool aren’t very good’.

But they’re a fantastic team with fantastic players and I still make them favourites along with City and Chelsea.”The league will be decided by who has the worst injury run because all three teams have fabulous players. City arguably have the biggest, healthiest squad in terms of quality and numbers, but you imagine Chelsea getting a long-term injury to Romelu Lukaku, what would that do to them? Liverpool last term had a long-term injury to Virgil van Dijk, look what it did to them. For City’s sake, say Kevin De Bruyne went out for a period time or lost their goalkeeper. I think the league will be decided on who gets the fewest injuries to key players.

“It will be a really exciting end to the season this year, I don’t see anyone running away with it.”So it’s Liverpool’s turn this week to be tested [with injuries]. Next week it might be someone else’s.

“Maybe Arsenal think it’s a good time to go to Liverpool and play them without their obvious strongest starting XI being available. But Liverpool have a very healthy group of players and it doesn’t matter what team they field, they’re playing at Anfield, the crowd will be behind them, the belief the crowd have in this group of players, it still makes it arguably the most difficult place to go and get a result, even if a few of their players are missing.

“I see an angry Liverpool having too much. Whatever team that plays, whatever the selection is, I only see one outcome. They’ll have a point to prove at the weekend.

“Arsenal need patience – but Smith Rowe will be a star.Souness: Angry Liverpool have a point to prove vs Arsenal 2As for Arsenal, Souness says patience will be key in north London if Arteta’s young Gunners are to eventually get up to the level of Liverpool, City and Chelsea.

“Arsenal may be a few years off where they want to be, which is challenging for the big trophies. The people that make the decisions seem to have a great deal of faith in Arteta and I’d say right now they’d be very pleased with where they are, given the start of the season.

“I still believe the Champions League is beyond them this year.”However, Souness did have praise for Emile Smith Rowe, the 21-year-old Arsenal midfielder who won his first England caps and scored his first goal for his country during the international break.

“When you see him play, he seems to be extremely energetic. Everything is done with pace and aggression with the way he runs, the way he carries the ball. Everything is done with a real passion – and the boy has got real quality,” said Souness.

“I always say this about young men, two things: get lucky to avoid injuries, and turn up every day wanting to learn something new.

“As long as he keeps doing that he’s destined to be a star.”

Nana Kay

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