Forget the summer squall, Liverpool and Arsenal admire each other

The lot at Emirates Stadium, the venue for today's clash of the titans, may have had their choice of smoke questioned by the Merseysiders after a summer-long transfer tug-of-war but deep down these clubs have a mutual respect for the other.

Arsenal and Liverpool may be fighting for Premier League supremacy when the two title rivals compete later today, Saturday, and they may have been involved in a gruesome transfer saga involving a £40m+£1 bid for the Anfield club's main asset, Luis Suarez, but, despite any past animosity, that included Liverpool owner John W Henry asking just what the Emirates lot are smoking on social media, the club's remain not only on good terms, but have an admiration for the other.

Mikel Arteta, whose role in the centre of the park will have an added importance for the North Londoners today in the absence of gatling gunning defensive midfield runner Mathieu Flamini, has a particular soft spot for his manager Arsene Wenger's primary summer transfer target Suarez.

During the brief overlap when both Arteta and Suarez resided in the same city when Mikel was an Evertonian, the two resided near each other. As quoted by The Sun, Arteta said of Suarez that he looks up to the Uruguayan's character, how he reacts to criticism and the standard of his performances following a transfer window replete with speculation.

See also: Wenger: Arsenal not worried about Suarez because we have…

'He has shown a lot of character to get back after getting really criticised and on the front pages a lot. He has gone on to produce some great performances and his goal-scoring record is amazing. It was very difficult for him because he had a lot of people against him and he was under massive pressure.

'Last summer when everyone thought he was leaving, he still came back and put in some great performances. I like players like this. When they are on the floor and everyone is on them they stand up and prove themselves and I admire that.'

See also: Wenger unfazed about Arsenal's gauntlet run: We'll show our strength!

The fondness from Arsenal to Liverpool is certainly not one-way traffic and, even though there was overt censure emanating from Anfield over Wenger's pursuit of Suarez… so much so that Brendan Rodgers claimed his opposite number was 'lacking class', time appears to have had a cooling effect on the Ulsterman who now lauds the Frenchman's arrival in England as a catalyst for the way football is looked at and coached in the country.

'He changed the landscape with his ideas and methods of work,' Rodgers is quoted to have said by the Daily Mail. 'He inherited a talented group of players. And obviously then he changed the identity of the club. Arsenal is very much Arsene Wenger on and off the field. He is one that I respect. He's a man who has been brilliant for English football. He's been trying to win trophies I'm sure he'll see this as a chance to do so.'

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Yes, there is a two-way admiration and respect for the other but, with the rise of both sides, having gone from ambitions of top four finishes to title challenges in the space of a summer, any of the good behaviour in the build-up to today's fixture may defenestrate by the time the opening whistle is sounded.

Both may play down the outcome of the match but if there is a winner rather than a 90 minute parity, that victor will have made a strong statement that their first quarter push for honours is no false dawn but one with a firm air of longevity.

image: © LovelyLeftFoot

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