Following victory over Burnley on the weekend, Arsenal manager Unai Emery admitted to reporters that he doesn’t see his side as on par with the Premier League’s best—and that while facing Liverpool next week is a good challenge, ideally, well, he’d rather not.
“For us we don’t want to play against Liverpool ever,” Emery joked. “We’d prefer not to play against them. That is really our challenge, a good test. For the supporters, for all of us. Our target is to reduce the distance to Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea.”
Some will read it as mind games, building up an opponent in the hopes they might take them more lightly as a result. Others will see simple honesty. After all, Liverpool won the Champions League last season and finished a point off Man City—and 25 clear of third.
Arsenal, though, have done a lot to improve this summer, and on paper should at the least be competing with Chelsea for the top four—and maybe even pushing Spurs as current third-favourites in England. Whatever Emery’s intent, Liverpool won’t take them lightly.
“When we play against them it is a big challenge to show how we can be,” he added. “We are going to prepare first the adaptation to them, their gameplan and players, and after to impose our gameplan and capacity. I think first is to be positive and then work hard.
“I know my past is to work hard, the present and future is going to be the same. After that we can win or we can lose, but above all is to be positive and keep moving ahead.”