It goes without saying that both the Reds and the Gunners will have much to prove at Anfield on Sunday. Liverpool are out of the Champions League and will be clawing their way back into contention for a top four finish in the Premier League. Arsenal will be thirsting to prove that the losses against the only teams above them in the table were flukes.
However, this tie is far more important than ever because of the results of Saturday. Chelsea drew and Manchester United lost at home; Manchester City drew yet again and Tottenham lost at White Hart Lane to Wolves. Aside from Villa’s win, which neither the Merseysiders nor the North Londoners will complain about, every contending team has dropped points.
For Arsenal, the loss to Chelsea put them 11 points off the pace–but that is with a game in hand. Since, the Pensioners have dropped five league points and Arsenal find themselves nine points back with two fewer games played. The run of games for all United, Chelsea, and Arsenal over the Christmas season offers many beatable (albeit tricky) matches and what happens at Anfield will go a long way toward determining which teams have momentum for the brutal next few weeks.
Liverpool will be boosted by the return of Fernando Torres and will be thrilled to field a full strength team; Arsenal will be, in all likelihood, positioning Andrey Arshavin as a last-resort striker once again. He impressed against Stoke and spurned two or three excellent chances before scoring the game winner. If he can give as much, or more, on Sunday, Arsenal have a great chance at winning.
Remember last season that Liverpool did the double over both Chelsea and United, and yet drew both matches with Arsene Wenger’s side. Now is the moment for them to break that duck if they want to re-enter the race for Champions League spots. A win for either side will be monumental, and truly neither can afford to drop any points.
It will be fun to watch.