Can Arsenal make it seven wins in a row against Liverpool?

Arsenal’s exit from the Champions League at the hands of Ligue 1 side Monaco will be considered a huge disappointment, considering that the Gunners were expected to have more than enough to get the job done, but continuing the strong surge towards a top four finish is undoubtedly the best tonic. The 2-1 victory at Newcastle made is six straight victories, and nine wins from the last ten games – a superb run of form which has put Arsenal in a wonderful position to not only finish in the top four for the eighteenth consecutive year under Arsene Wenger, but also potentially climb above Manchester City and into second. The upcoming international break provides an opportunity for Wenger to thoroughly prepare for what could be a crucial clash against Liverpool at the Emirates, particularly with last season’s league runners-up in close contention to finish in the top four. Bookies are likely to reflect that Arsenal’s recent form makes them favourites to come out on top, but it is a game that the Gunners simply cannot afford to lose against a team who could close to within three points if they take all three points away from North London.

Keep it tight

Liverpool’s defeat against Manchester United may present an excellent opportunity to be ruthless and compound their misery by damaging their Champions League hopes even further, but as Arsenal have conceded in their last three fixtures, Wenger will look for a big improvement. The Gunners cannot afford to give Liverpool any hint of taking control in a game that could be considered make-or-break for both teams, and although the onus will be on the visitors to come and win the game, Arsenal have to be pro-active and go for three points themselves.

Keeping it tight at the back will rest on the shoulders of captain Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny who have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, while Francis Coquelin may play a pivotal role in shielding the back four and breaking down any of Liverpool’s forays up the field. Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez have been pivotal in Arsenal’s resurgence in form, with all three recapturing the telepathic understanding and wonderful one-touch football that makes them almost unstoppable. All three, particularly Giroud who is enjoying a purple patch in front of goal, will look to create damage against Liverpool, with their hopes of doing so boosted by the potential return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil who can provide the service they need to score goals.

Manchester misery

Losing to Manchester United will be a painful feeling that everyone connected to Liverpool will feel throughout the international break, but the 2-1 defeat may have more repercussions than allowing their fierce rivals to go five points clear in the race for fourth. The result not only ended Liverpool’s run of five straight wins and thirteen unbeaten in the Premier League, but Brendan Rodgers may be left counting the cost of injuries and suspensions to key players which may end any hope of securing Champions League football for the second consecutive season. Adam Lallana has already been forced to pull out of international duty with England due to injury, while Daniel Sturridge picked up yet another knock in what has been an injury-ravaged season for their star striker. This is further compounded by Steven Gerrard’s straight red card after little more than 30 seconds of coming on as a substitute, while Martin Skrtel may also face a ban after being found guilty of violent conduct by the FA following his stamp on David De Gea. Losing important players is exactly what Rodgers does not need at such a crucial stage of the season, particularly as they must travel to the Emirates where only Manchester United have walked away with all three points this season.

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