Liverpool v Arsenal is still one of the biggest games of the season, according to Arsene Wenger.
The Reds and the Gunners were English football's leading lights in the late eighties and early nineties but they are 11th and sixth respectively going into this weekend's Premier League fixtures.
Sunday's Anfield encounter is a far cry from the title-defining matches of the late 20th century but it's still a special occasion for Wenger.
"Even last year we lost against them, the week later against the same team we won 2-0 at home in the FA Cup"
"Yes, of course," he said. "There’s a special atmosphere.
"I have a lot of respect for the crowd at Liverpool because they stand behind their team. I remember one day we were leading 5-1 at Liverpool and they were chanting ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. It’s one of the few grounds in the world where you can see that. There’s a special combination of knowledge of the game at Liverpool and support for their team. I have a huge respect for that."
The other 5-1 scoreline that Wenger was inevitably asked about during his pre-match press conference referred to Arsenal's heavy defeat at Anfield in February.
"Every defeat hurts," said Wenger. "Every defeat is a scar in your heart forever. We also have very good memories at Liverpool. We won many games at Liverpool as well. Even last year we lost against them, the week later against the same team we won 2-0 at home in the FA Cup.
"We want to have continuity. It’s a very important period now. You start the Christmas period now and over the Christmas period you play four Premier League games.
"Can we have a good run over Christmas? I’m sure we will come back strongly in the league and when you get over the hill in January we look towards the end [of the season], so how you come out of the Christmas period is of course very important."
Arsenal go into Sunday's game in better form than Liverpool, but Wenger will not be lulled into a false sense of security.
"Liverpool scored over 100 goals last season in the Premier League and they were very good going forward," he said. "This season they’ve scored 19 I think until now so they are not on the same trend offensively.
"But it’s difficult for me to assess our direct opponent two or three days before [the game]. I expect to play against a very good team. This season they have a heavy schedule as well, like we have. They play Champions League games, they play Premier League games and it’s very demanding."
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