Are resurgent Liverpool the team to end Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes?
Kenny Dalglish’s side head for Emirates showdown on Sunday
Arsenal fans feeling discontent with the club’s relative lack of success in recent years might spare a thought for their Liverpool counterparts.
The club who once dominated football domestically and in Europe have failed to return to those heights since the Premier League’s inception and this season they are even in danger of missing out on qualification for a Europa League place.
Having parted company with Roy Hodgson in January, Kenny Dalglish returned to the helm of the club at which he is so adored.
The Scot was unable to halt his side’s limp exit from the Europa League against Braga last month though and Liverpool now face a challenge to even qualify for the competition next season, as they are currently five points adrift of Tottenham’s automatic qualification spot, having played a game more.
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Their task will be made all the harder by the absence of inspirational captain Steven Gerrard, who recently underwent surgery on a groin injury, as well as Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson who are expected to be sidelined for a month with a knee and hamstring problem respectively.
The Merseysiders have clearly missed the commanding influence of their captain in midfield this season, as they have succumbed to surprising defeats, most recently at Hodgson’s West Brom.
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Gerrard’s absence means that greater pressure will be heaped on new signings Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, pictured, to provide the missing goal threat, although Carroll has begun to repay his �35m transfer fee with two goals in Monday’s 3-0 win over Manchester City on Monday night.
Liverpool players will be buoyed though by the memory of the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season at Anfield, in which they were only denied a win over the Gunners by a last-gasp Pepe Reina own-goal.
Despite surrendering leads to a number of clubs from the wrong end of the league this season; Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher is still optimistic of securing a spot in Europe next season.
“Plenty of times we thought it was gone [with results] against Wigan at home and West Ham away. Then we get a couple of results after that and you think it’s back on again,” said Carragher, who will lead the side at the Emirates in Gerrard’s absence.
Liverpool have picked up 13 points against the current top four teams in the table this season and have now scored in 14 successive league matches.
Arsenal of course need the three points for an even more pressing concern, and in a game in which both teams know the importance of not conceding, Sunday’s showdown should be a close one in which the margin of victory is likely to be slim.
Prediction: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1