The English Premier League has gotten interesting with Manchester City closing the gap on Manchester United at the top of the table to five points, while Liverpool smashed five past Norwich to go equal on points with Arsenal, who lost at Stamford Bridge, in the hunt for Champions League football. This week sees Arsenal and Liverpool go head to head in a match that could prove pivotal in the race for fourth spot.
January was always going to be a crucial month for Arsenal with a chance to kick-start their season, but the Gunners have dreadfully disappointed when it’s mattered most, falling flat in their performances. They now sit in sixth place, joint on points with Liverpool, but a place above on goal difference. The month kicked off with a dismal 1-1 draw at Southampton. The next league match against Manchester City was all but lost after Laurent Koscielny’s ninth-minute red card, with the reigning champions beating Arsenal 2-0 on their own turf. There was still hope that they could turn their season around at Stamford Bridge—much like they did in their 5-3 win their last season—but a dismal first-half performance saw the Gunners down 2-0 at halftime. It was clear that Arsene Wenger said something in the dressing room at halftime, as the Gunners came out of the gates with real purpose. When the goal finally came in the 59th minute through Theo Walcott, a comeback very much seemed on the cards but despite the spirited second-half, Arsenal simply couldn’t break down a resolute Chelsea defence a second time, and in the end it was a disappointing result. Their form has been inconsistent at home but on their day they can demolish any Premier League team at the Emirates. That lack of consistency has earned them only five home wins out 10 matches, drawing three and losing to Chelsea and more recently Manchester City.
Liverpool bounced back from defeat to their bitterest rivals with a 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City at Anfield. After their 2-1 loss at Manchester United, Brendan Rodgers got the required response as his charges blew away a lacklustre Norwich. Jordan Henderson opened the scoring with the pick of a classy bunch, and while there was no hat-trick for Luis Suarez he did add the second after a fine dummy from Daniel Sturridge, who made it 3-0 in the second-half to maintain an excellent start to life at Anfield. Steven Gerrard hit a trademark fourth, while substitute Raheem Sterling completed the rout with a deflected finish. The result saw Liverpool move up a place to seventh spot and added to a magnificent run which has seen them score 14 goals in the last five matches. The Reds have also won five of their last eight matches. The addition of Daniel Sturridge has given Liverpool another dimension and taken some pressure off of Luis Suarez who has linked up with Sturridge superbly so far.
Liverpool haven’t had a good record against Arsenal in recent seasons but did win this away fixture 2-0 two seasons ago. They look the better team at the moment and are tipped to claim the vital three points here.