Arsenal can virtually guarantee a place in the top four with victory over Liverpool, for whom defeat could leave him with too much of a mountain to climb to qualify for the Champions League.
The gap between the clubs currently stands at six points with only eight games remaining, partly thanks to the Gunner’s sparkling form. That especially applies to Olivier Giroud, who is having his best season in England since arriving in 2012, adding two more to his ever-growing tally in the recent victory at Newcastle United.
The first half on Tyneside looked to be plain sailing, but after the break the North London club has to defend desperately against waves of attack. David Ospina was equal to almost everything that came his way, and the in-form Colombian could also have a big say in this one, as well as Giroud.
Captain Steven Gerrard’s careless red card just seconds into the second half grabbed most of the headlines and took a lot of the attention away from what was a critical defeat to Manchester United, a result that renders this game almost a must-win. Furthermore, the futures of a couple of key players could depend on the outcome.
In order to revive their hopes of competing against Europe’s elite for a second successive season, Brendan Rodgers’ side must play better than they did in that most recent encounter, as they outplayed and outfought for long periods. On the positive note, that was their first league defeat of 2015, so their form is not bad either.
Danny Welbeck is set to miss out for Arsenal after being injured on England duty. Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mathieu Debuchy are definitely unavailable.
Liverpool are without suspended duo Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel, but have Lucas Leiva back as well as Daniel Sturridge and Dejan Lovren.
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