Liverpool and Arsenal both have high expectations for this season and they both have an early opportunity to lay down a marker in a match that neither side can afford to lose when the two clubs meet at the Emirates on Monday night.
Rocked by their surprise loss at home to West Ham on the opening weekend, Arsenal looked more composed and clinical against Palace last week and German defender Per Mertesacker has revealed how clear-the-air talks helped them kick-start their campaign.
“Obviously when everything goes very smooth in pre-season, you avoid those talks. But there was a need for it when we came out of the (West Ham) match,” he said.
“You could already feel something when you are in the relegation zone, and not having produced what everyone expected from you, so it was important to bounce back. Against Palace it was a very encouraging performance from top to bottom.”
Brendan Rodgers’ team have been widely written off as also-rans in this season’s title race after limping to a sixth place finish that saw the Reds trail in 25 points behind champions Chelsea last term. The departure of star forward Raheem Sterling to Manchester City and the continued fitness problems of England striker Daniel Sturridge have also played a role in Liverpool’s low approval rating.
But the Reds have made a quietly encouraging start and head to the Emirates stadium in third place after grinding out 1-0 wins over Stoke and Bournemouth.
Chelsea Look To Rebound
Arsenal’s early inconsistency is nothing in comparison to the dismal start made by Chelsea, who have endured their worst opening for 17 years after a 2-2 draw against Swansea and then a 3-0 thrashing at Manchester City.
Early pace setters Manchester City will look to maintain their 100 per cent record when the leaders travel to Everton on Sunday. Fourth placed Manchester United, who host Newcastle on Saturday, have also won their first two fixtures, as well as defeating Club Brugge in a midweek Champions League play-off first leg tie.
English Premier League fixtures
Crystal Palace v Aston Villa, Leicester v Tottenham, Manchester United v Newcastle, Norwich v Stoke, Sunderland v Swansea, West Ham v Bournemouth
Everton v Manchester City, Watford v Southampton, West Brom v Chelsea
Arsenal v Liverpool