Three things we learned: Arsenal v. Liverpool

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Arsenal and Liverpool clashed in north London on Saturday with a 1-1 draw enough to see Jurgen Klopp‘s men momentarily go top of the Premier League table as they remain unbeaten this season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Unai Emery‘s side huffed and puffed and gave a good account of themselves against a fellow top six team with Alexandre Lacazette‘s equalizer a thing of beauty. There is still plenty of work for the Spanish coach to do in the weeks and months ahead but this will be another positive step forward.

What did we learn from an end-to-end encounter at the Emirates?


ANOTHER BIG STEP FORWARD FOR ARSENAL

The Gunners deservedly grabbed a point on Saturday and the progression under Emery is clear for all to see when you compare this game against Liverpool to their opening two games of the season against Manchester City and Chelsea. Emery has now made Arsenal more solid defensively and they always carried a threat going forward against Liverpool. Overall there is now a better balance about the team. If you’d said to anyone connected with Arsenal at the start of the season that they would be unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions entering November and in fourth place in the Premier League, just four points off top spot, they would have snapped your hand off. Lucas Torreira epitomizes this new-look Arsenal with the diminutive Uruguayan midfielder shielding the back four, pressing Liverpool’s midfield and always looking to spring attacks with his slick passing. He gives them a solid base to launch their attacks.

Heading into games against Wolves and Bournemouth next up, Arsenal will hope to take care of business before back-to-back games against Manchester United and Tottenham in the space of four days in December. That will be the next big test to see how far Emery’s men have come. Right now, everything is heading in the right direction and their progress is clear.


DIRECT LIVERPOOL TRIED TO BYPASS ARSENAL PRESS

I’m not saying Liverpool are a long ball team every week, I’m just saying that on Saturday that’s how they played. The most joy Liverpool had going forward was when they went direct and got the ball up to Roberto Fimrino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as quickly as possible. A clipped ball over the top found Fimrino who hit the bar in the first half, with Mane finishing off the rebound which was incorrectly given offisde. If there was ever a decision which showcased why VAR most arrive in the Premier League next season, it was this one. Anyway, with the pace of Mane and Salah on the break, the key from Klopp was to bypass the likes of Mesut Ozil and Torreira, especially with Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita out injured and Fabinho looking a little shaky in midfield. It was a composed away display and although Liverpool will be upset to let in a goal late on after taking the lead, Klopp will be happy to leave the Emirates with a point.

Liverpool have now drawn against Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea and won away at Tottenham in their opening 11 games of the Premier League season. They’re top of the table and Klopp’s men look composed, as they have done for much of this season as they’ve contended with injuries and look much better defensively than in previous campaigns. Against Arsenal they hit the post, had a good goal disallowed and Virgil Van Dijk went close on several occasions and although Arsenal did threaten at times, Liverpool who were in second gear for most of the game. Klopp’s record against the rest of the top six has always been good since he arrived in England, with dropped points against the so-called smaller teams causing problems in the pursuit of the Premier League title. Liverpool’s status as one of the Premier League’s title favorites remains intact.


GOALKEEPING BLUNDERS COSTLY

At both ends of the pitch Alisson and Bernd Leno will be disappointed with the goals they conceded. Both came and flapped at crosses during the game which almost saw them concede, but on Liverpool’s goal Leno was caught pushing a harmless cross back into danger when he probably should have stood back and let one of his defenders clear. Instead he knocked it into James Milner‘s path and Liverpool led.

In the first half Alisson did something similar but Henrikh Mkhitaryan didn’t make him pay, while he was then caught out a little on Lacazette’s brilliant equalizer. It’s true that Lacazette finished superbly from a tight angle when everyone expected him to cross, but did Alisson need to rush off his line and try to get to that ball? Probably not. Leno and Alisson are new to the Premier League and they showed that on Saturday.

De Ligt not fazed by price tag after move to Juventus

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If you can’t beat them, buy them. That appears to be Juventus’ philosophy as it continues its quest for the Champions League title.

[ MORE: Pochettino might have left if Spurs won Champions League ]

In 2018, Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Real Madrid against Juventus to eliminate the Serie A champion from Europe’s premier club competition. A few months later Juventus signed him.

This year Matthijs de Ligt scored the goal that eliminated Juventus from the Champions League in April as he captained Ajax to the semifinals. On Thursday, Juventus signed the Netherlands defender.

Juventus is an overwhelming favorite to win a record-extending ninth straight Serie A title but it is desperate to end its long wait for European success.

Since Juventus’ last title in 1996, it has finished runner-up five times in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Conte calls Lukaku an “important” part of his plans at Inter ]

“We want to win them all: this is the mentality of Juventus,” said De Ligt at his first news conference as a Juventus player on Friday. “I’m 19, I can still improve and I want to do that. It’s important to work hard every day and to learn, and I hope to become a better player.”

De Ligt became the most expensive defender in Serie A history when he completed an $85-million transfer from Ajax.

But the teen is not fazed at the price tag.

“Of course, when a club buys you for a big amount of money, there’s a lot of pressure, but pressure is normal in football,” De Ligt said. “I think pressure is the most important thing and if you want to be a good player, you have to deal with it.

“It’s not a big deal for me. I’ll just play my game, work hard and show it on the pitch. In the end, everyone will see how I deal with it, but it’s not going to be a problem.”

[ MORE: Report: Barcelona logs bid for Neymar ]

A photo emerged during the week of De Ligt wearing a Juventus shirt as a child and he admitted he grew up idolizing Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro, who captained Italy to World Cup success in 2006.

“The photo of me in a Juventus shirt was taken when I was about six or seven, at that time Fabio Cannavaro was a defender that I admired,” he said. “I always had a good feeling about Juventus and I’ve always been a fan.”

Another reason De Ligt chose Juventus was because of new coach Maurizio Sarri, who replaced Massimiliano Allegri at the end of the season.

“I spoke to Sarri on the phone before coming, just to get to know each other,” De Ligt said. “He was one of the reasons that I wanted to join here, I’ve heard a lot of good things about him and I like his footballing philosophy and how he prepares his defense.”

Pulisic makes Chelsea debut, but Blues lose in Japan

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While much of the country was still asleep, well before 8 a.m. on the east coast of America, Christian Pulisic made his Chelsea debut in the Blues’ preseason friendly against Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale in Yokohama, Japan.

[ MORE: Pochettino might have left if Spurs won Champions League ]

Pulisic came on as a 65th-minute sub and didn’t have a huge impact on the game. Chelsea lost the game 1-0 on an 88th-minute header from former wonderkid Leandro Damiao. The Blues have won just one of their three preseason fixtures thus far.

Chelsea weren’t without chances in the game, though, but various combinations of Pulisic, Michy Batshuayi, Pedro and Olivier Giroud proved to lack the finishing touch required on a number of occasions. Despite the result and his side’s poor finishing, manager Frank Lampard insisted he was happy with the overall performance.

David Luiz was named Man of the Match and handed a very peculiar award from shirt sponsor and tire company Yokohama.

Conte calls Lukaku an “important” part of his plans at Inter

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So much for diplomacy. Antonio Conte is downright recruiting Romelu Lukaku to join him at Inter Milan, and he’s doing it through the press for all to hear.

[ MORE: Pochettino might have left if Spurs won Champions League ]

The rumors linking Lukaku with a move away from Manchester United have been swirling all summer, but as of yet the two clubs haven’t been past the “bid(s) made and rejected” portion of proceedings. As such, Conte is prepared to go a step further in courting the 26-year-old Belgian, stating his longstanding admiration and calling him “an important players for us” — quotes from the BBC:

“You know I like this player. In the past, when I was Chelsea’s coach, I tried to bring him to Chelsea.

“As I said before, I like this player and consider him an important player for us to have a good improvement but at the same there is a transfer market.

“We know very well which is our situation at the moment and we will see what happens but for now Lukaku is a United player.”

Man United paid $96 million for Lukaku just two years ago, so it would be unwise to expect them to let him leave for anything short of $80 million, if Inter are lucky.

Pochettino: I might have left if Spurs won Champions League

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Mauricio Pochettino admits that might have left Tottenham Hotspur had the north London club found a way to beat Liverpool in last month’s UEFA Champions League final.

[ MORE: Harry Winks says trophies for Spurs are “round the corner” ]

In Pochettino’s mind, reaching the pinnacle would have caused everyone at the club — from the players, to the rest of the coaching staff, and even himself — to “behave differently.” If/when Pochettino wins his first major trophy as a manager, he won’t be one to rest on his laurels for more than a day or two — quotes from the BBC:

“When you touch the glory, you behave differently, the players behave differently, the challenge becomes different.

“If the result had been different, maybe you can think it is a moment to step out of the club and give it a possibility for a real new chapter with a new coaching staff.

“But, to finish like this? I am not a person who won’t face problems or avoids difficult situations.”

Fortunately for the long-term viability of the club, Pochettino is set to begin his fifth season as Tottenham manager. Still, though, Spurs’ best shot at a trophy remains in the cup competitions, with Manchester City and Liverpool seemingly set to lead the Premier League for the foreseeable future.

One player who might not be around long enough to enjoy any of Spurs’ future successes is Danny Rose. While the entire first team is in Singapore for preseason, Rose is back in London after being granted time “to explore prospective opportunities with other clubs.”

Pochettino says Rose has 10 days to sort out a transfer for himself — with PSG and Schalke both reportedly interested abroad — otherwise “he will be normal with the team” once they return to north London.