By Nick Teale
Last season a 4-4 draw with Arsenal at Anfield was viewed as the end of Liverpool's title tilt.
This term their challenge appears to be over before it had even begun. The underperforming Reds have already dropped 21 points this campaign and crashed out of the Champions League on Matchday Five.
Encouraging victories over Manchester United and Everton could have triggered a revival for Rafael Benitez' side but the Merseysiders failed to capitalise on those results.
Liverpool's injury concerns have been alleviated recently and, in stark contrast with Arsenal, they now have a clean bill of health.
The bookies make Benitez' side favourites for the game on Sunday but are the Reds playing well enough to cause the Gunners' major problems at Anfield? Arsenal.com spoke to the Liverpool Echo's Dominic King to find out.
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
"If the only game you'd seen Liverpool play was [the 2-0 win] against Manchester United you'd think they were title contenders. They also did very well [to win 2-0] in a difficult game away at Everton but the consistency has been lacking. The Fiorentina game in midweek was a dead rubber but it was important to get Alberto Aquilani on the pitch at last and to see Fernando Torres come back after a month out was another huge lift."
"I don't know if Aquilani will start on Sunday but he could not have done any more to show that he deserves a start and if there was a game they were thinking of playing him in it would probably be Arsenal given the way that they play. Aquilani is very clever with his passing. What struck me against Fiorentina was that whenever he got the ball the first thing he did was look forward."
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
"It's been a very, very difficult season, there's no way to disguise it. It has not gone anywhere near as well as anyone would have envisaged and the results in the last few months have been terrible. Benitez is working overtime to turn it around. Having players fit again after injury is massive and any club would have suffered with the amount of injuries Liverpool have had but there are no excuses."
IMPRESSIONS OF ARSENAL
"It's going to be a very difficult game for Liverpool on Sunday. It would be nice to think both sides can attack in the manner they did last season; the 4-4 draw was a spectacular game. I'm not sure it was one for those who favour defensive football but it will be a very, very difficult game this weekend."
THE MAN IN CHARGE
"Sometimes it seems like Benitez is an easy target for the press. There's no escaping he's a very driven man but I do think he gets a lot of unfair flack. But his critics will say that whatever has come his way this season has been deserved because results have not been good. But I think Liverpool are just experiencing the sort of form all clubs experience once in a while."