Arsenal, Liverpool vie for Christmas No.1 spot
Liverpool and Arsenal will battle for the Christmas number one spot when they meet on Saturday, each with a golden chance to open up a significant lead over absent champions Manchester City, who are on Club World Cup duty in Saudi Arabia.
If there is not a winner at Anfield, third-placed Aston Villa could be top at Christmas for the first time since 1999 should their phenomenal home form continue against bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United.
A win for the Gunners would be their first in the Premier League at Anfield in 11 years, and coach Mikel Arteta has challenged Arsenal to do so by learning from last year's bitter disappointment of throwing away a 2-0 lead.
The Gunners head to Liverpool on Saturday knowing victory would leave them top of the table at Christmas.
But the visitors would have to end a run of league results stretching back to September 2012 if they are to achieve that -- winning 2-0 when Arteta was in the Arsenal midfield.
"It is always great to be in the highest position in this league and we will try to maintain that, but we have to be intelligent to manage the game," Arteta told reporters on Friday. "Last time we beat them was a while ago and it was a good moment, which is something we can replicate tomorrow..."
The Spaniard toasted four years as Arsenal manager this week and during that time he has overseen wins at Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham, while this season they beat Manchester City at the Emirates.
"We have done it at Old Trafford, we have done it at Stamford Bridge and many other places where we haven't done it for years," Arteta added.
"This is the next challenge -- go there and win. If you want to be at the top you have to go to those places and be dominant. That's what we're going to try to do."
Arsenal took a 2-0 lead at Anfield last year before they were pinned back and had to settle for a draw.
It was the start of a damaging spell of four games without a win that cost the Gunners vital points in their chase for a first Premier League title since 2004 and they were eventually overhauled by Manchester City.
"It's going to be a great atmosphere," said Arteta.
"The two teams are in a really good moment, really good position, really strong position. They are going to be well-placed to win it and to go for it. It's going to be an intense match.
"You have to play better than them. You will silence the crowd if you are dominant and better than them."
Arteta admitted there were aspects of last year's game that could be improved upon.
"The way we allowed them to run especially, that we need to correct and be much better because when they have that momentum and space they are a really dangerous team.
"But we had some big, big situations when we could have killed the game and we didn't -- when you have the opportunity to do that, you have to do it.
"They have experienced that for many years now. For this group of players now this is the third, fourth time that they have been there (Anfield).
"A few years ago, it was the first time for most of them and maybe you have to clarify and explain certain things. I don't think that is necessary now."
Meanwhile, after a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Manchester United last weekend, Jurgen Klopp has called for an electric atmosphere to ensure Arsenal's wait for a win at Anfield since 2012 goes on.
"We need Anfield on their toes from the first second, without me having an argument with the opposition coach," Klopp said after a 5-1 thrashing of West Ham in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
"If it is too much football in December, if you are not in the right shape, give your ticket to somebody else."