Can Arsenal end Liverpool’s top four hopes?
A superb run of six consecutive victories, combined with nine in the last ten Premier League fixtures, have put Arsenal in a wonderful position to reach the Champions League for the 18th consecutive year under Arsene Wenger. Although the manager has come under heavy scrutiny from certain sections of fans at numerous points of the season, there can be no doubt that he has reignited the spark back into the team who have now hit top form.
The international break may have come at the wrong time for the Gunners who were building up ahead of steam to the extent that Arsenal are not only in a strong position to finish in the top four, but also potentially finish ahead of Manchester City in second and even give leaders Chelsea a late run for their money. A seventh straight victory would be a big step in the right direction, but the Gunners face a potential make-or-break clash against Liverpool who themselves are chasing a Champions League spot. Arsenal’s superb home form may see them included on a number of football specials, but the team will have to be firing on all cylinders to secure another win of front of their fans.
Strong performance required
Arsenal have rediscovered the wonderfully fluid, one-touch passing style of play which makes them a joy to watch, with the likes of Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez hitting top form at the perfect time. Six goals in five games illustrates the purple patch that Giroud is currently enjoying in front of goal, and it was his brace that secured all three points in the 2-1 victory at Newcastle. Wenger may use the second half performance as a reminder to his team that they must get the job done when on top and avoid becoming complacent, particularly against Liverpool who are likely to seize upon any weaknesses in Arsenal’s game. It will require a strong performances from all areas of the pitch, particularly in midfield where gaining control of the game could be crucial in deciding who comes out on top. The news that Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy have returned to training will be a major boost for Wenger, with the international break allowing all three to prove their fitness and put themselves forward for a start against Liverpool.
Like Arsenal, Liverpool have also enjoyed a superb run of form which has put them in contention for a consecutive top four finish, but the 2-1 defeat against Manchester United has left them wondering where it went wrong throughout the two-week break. Brendan Rodgers’ side were below their best as Manchester United took full control and extended the gap between the two clubs to five points, and with just eight league games remaining, the result could prove to be the end of Liverpool’s Champions League hopes. Their hopes of bouncing back at the Emirates have suffered a big blow as not only Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge picked up injuries at Anfield, but Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel will begin three-game suspensions for their respective misdemeanours.
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