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Arsenal pass the Liverpool test

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Unai Emery’s side fight back to earn a point and respect.

Arsenal FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Last week I wrote an article entitled Arsenal can prove critics wrong, as the Gunners prepared to welcome Liverpool to North London. I wrote this in response to a lot of negativity directed at Unai Emery’s side by critics. Despite an impressive unbeaten run, it seemed the non-believers were waiting for Arsenal to fail.

Take for example yesterday’s Metro, which ran a story written by Ewan Roberts entitled, Why Arsenal’s misleading unbeaten run will be ruthlessly exposed by Liverpool. Then there’s Paul Merson who last week proclaimed that Liverpool would “rip Arsenal to shreds.”

It seems many of these naysayers are eating crow (silently, shockingly enough) after the 1-1 draw. The home side not only held its own, it showed a confidence and tenacity that had been missing over the past few seasons.

Arsenal had the bulk of the possession and defended admirably. Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka made numerous tackles and controlled the midfield. At the same time, Rob Holding is quickly establishing himself as a key member of the squad. Even Shkodran Mustafi looked up for the battle.

Afterwards, Arsenal legend Ian Wright assessed his former team’s performance. “Arsenal were under pressure because a lot of people were saying that on this run they hadn’t played anyone of any substance. They proved a lot of people wrong because they came out and had a real go at Liverpool and I thought they deserved something out of it.”

Of course the fans were quick to hit back at the pundits at the final whistle.

It’s early days for Emery at Arsenal, but he and his team are proving that they deserve respect and should not be taken lightly. Let’s hope we can continue to make the critics look bad.