Club Focus – Liverpool – Reds have nothing to lose against Arsenal

Liverpool are still in the hunt for a top-five finish in the Premier League, but in order to stand any real chance of catching Tottenham Hotspur the Reds will almost certainly have to beat Spurs’ north London rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this Sunday. Arsene Wenger’s title-chasing Gunners are not in table-topping form and have won just once in their last four Premier League outings; however the Carling Cup finalists are unbeaten in their last 14 league games therefore a win for the visitors could be a tough ask.

But while a defeat for Arsenal would end their slim chances of winning the title, Liverpool simply have nothing to lose. Kenny Dalglish’s side are four points ahead of their bitter local-rivals Everton and can afford a defeat at the hands of Arsenal. With the pressure off Liverpool ahead of this clash, the Merseysiders can enjoy their football at the Emirates and could well return with a precious away win.

The Reds blew Manchester City away at Anfield on Monday night and Arsenal will be wary of the fact that the Luis Suarez-Andy Carroll partnership is blossoming. Carroll has already inflicted defeat on the Gunners during his Newcastle days and with Arsenal likely to field another fragile-looking defence, the £35m striker could trouble Wenger’s men once again. But despite all the focus on Arsenal’s defensive and goalkeeping problems recently, they have only conceded one goal in their last seven games at the Emirates; therefore it will not be a field day for Liverpool’s strikers like it was against City.

Instead, Arsenal’s attacking aces could cause problems for the visitors. Although Liverpool kept a clean sheet against City last time out, the Reds are not exactly at full strength defensively and an offensive Gunners side could pose a threat. Robin Van Persie has been in sensational form since his return from injury while Liverpool will also be wary of Russian Andrey Arshavin, who has scored five goals from just six shots on target against the Merseysiders in the Premier League. It will also be interesting to see whether the injury-prone full-back Fabio Aurelio is risked for the second time in a week and if so, how he and young John Flanagan will deal with the likes of Theo Walcott bombing down the touchlines.

Speaking of Aurelio and his injury problems, Liverpool have been strongly linked with Newcastle left-back Jose Enrique lately and former Red Phil Thompson claimed over the weekend that a deal had been done for the Spaniard. However, Magpies boss Alan Pardew has denied the speculation and insists that nothing has been agreed with the Anfield outfit and he was instead looking to open contract negotiations with the defender. Whether Enrique does eventually become a Red or not remains to be seen, but Liverpool are very much in the hunt for a left-sided defender. Arsenal’s Gael Clichy is another full-back to have been linked with a move to Anfield.

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