London - However many blips and bumps Arsenal endures through the season one outcome is a constant: finishing in the Premier League's top four.
Arsenal has spent 17 consecutive seasons among the elite, ensuring itself of a place in the Champions League year after year. Fans might be frustrated by the shortage of silverware, but it's a level of predictable consistency Liverpool would accept now.
When Brendan Rodgers steered Liverpool back into the Champions League in May after a five-year absence, the club hoped it would be the start of a revival. Instead the surprise runner-up finish in the Premier League seems increasingly just that — a surprise. And probably a one-off, for now.
Preparing to host Arsenal on Sunday, Liverpool is 11th in the standings, already 18 points behind leader Chelsea after losing 3-0 at Manchester United last weekend. Arsenal is only sixth, but the London club is five points in front of Liverpool and just two from fourth place.
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For two clubs with aspirations above their current status, Arsenal appears to be only one equipped to achieve much this season. Rodgers, though, is putting a brave face on Liverpool's struggles.
"Despite the result at Old Trafford, I saw moments in our game that I thought were good," Rodgers said. "We created a lot of chances, so I can certainly see signs of us getting back to where we were. We know there's a way to go.
"I think slowly we're getting there ... there are a lot of players adapting."
And there are players out injured still — including striker Daniel Sturridge — which is adding to the loss felt by Luis Suarez joining Barcelona in July.
Arsenal forward Theo Walcott could return, though, at Anfield on Sunday. The 25-year-old Walcott, who has made only two appearances this season following a long-term knee injury, is set to resume full training from a groin problem.
"He is back in training today (Thursday), but only today," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
"I might take him (to Liverpool), I don't know yet until he is back to full training. Let's see."