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.
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."