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Arteta hopes Liverpool Cup clash is start of another ‘beautiful journey’

premier league newcastle united v arsenal
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Neither Arsenal nor Liverpool would have preferred to play each other in the third round of the FA Cup but the north London club’s manager Mikel Arteta hopes the “incredible clash” signals the start of another good run in the competition.

Arteta won the FA Cup in his first season with Arsenal in 2019-20, beating Manchester City and Chelsea to lift the trophy and extend the club’s record to 14 titles. Liverpool have won the cup eight times.

The Spaniard said on Friday he expects another humdinger of a match against the Premier League leaders after the two sides played out a thrilling 1-1 draw at Anfield just before Christmas.

“We have a great history in this competition with our two clubs. We have a big opponent to start with and again make another beautiful journey,” Arteta told reporters.

“The draw is the draw. We played two weeks ago in the league (1-1 at Anfield). It was an incredible match and I am sure it will be again.

“We don’t have a choice (on the draw). I am sure both teams would have been expecting or hoping for something different, but we have this incredible clash in the third round and we have to cope with it. We expect a great game and a good run.”

Although Arsenal were top at Christmas, they have dropped to fourth in the table amid a slump in form, with fingers being pointed at the lack of goals from Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard.

Martinelli and Odegaard topped the club’s scoring charts with 15 league goals last season while Saka had 14 goals and 11 assists. However, the goals have dried up this season, with the trio netting a combined 12 goals so far.

“What they did last year is exceptional. To maintain those numbers, we knew it would be hard because it was a one off. Not just for us, but a one off in the league,” Arteta said.

“I think overall execution is in every part of the field. When it comes to those spaces and the timing of the action it becomes trickier to coach and replicate.

“It’s very tricky but it’s something that we have to improve with how we transfer those chances into goals.”

With injuries and players away on international duty, the Arsenal squad is stretched thin, especially at full back with Takehiro Tomiyasu away at the Asian Cup and Oleksandr Zinchenko to be evaluated on Saturday.

However, Arteta said there is a possibility that Arsenal may not sign new recruits this month.

“We are open to the transfer market but the emphasis is on making the most of what we have. We’ll work with the club to see if we have any options,” Arteta said.

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