Arsenal brace for Liverpool test as relegation battle heats up

Arsenal face a test of their Premier League title credentials against Liverpool this weekend as the scramble to avoid relegation intensifies.

Manchester United and Newcastle will seek to consolidate their positions in the top four, while Frank Lampard takes charge for Chelsea’s visit to Wolves after returning to Stamford Bridge as caretaker manager.

AFP Sport looks at some of the key talking points ahead of the action.

Liverpool lie in wait for Arsenal

Arsenal travel to Anfield on Sunday seeking an eighth consecutive Premier League win as they close in on a first English top-flight title for 19 years.

On paper, a match against faltering Liverpool does not look the toughest of tasks but Jurgen Klopp’s team are a tougher proposition at home than away, winning nine of their 13 league matches at Anfield this season.

Klopp saw positives in the goalless draw against Chelsea in midweek after three consecutive defeats in all competitions, praising his men for their attitude.

“Now let’s carry on,” he said. “Anfield is waiting for us and we want to deliver. We have another 10 games to play and the next one is Arsenal.”

The Gunners, who have not won at Anfield in the league since 2012, face a daunting set of fixtures in April, with matches against Manchester City and Chelsea to come later in the month.

But if they beat Liverpool, even defending champions City, eight points behind Arsenal with a game in hand, might begin to lose belief they can catch their title rivals.

Rashford reliance

Marcus Rashford was once again the match-winner in Manchester United’s victory against Brentford on Wednesday, but Erik ten Hag is painfully aware that his side are over-reliant on the England forward.

United’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford, which lifted them back into the top four, was their first in the Premier League since mid-February.

Ten Hag finally ran out of patience with the blunt Wout Weghorst but despite their dominance, United were unable to add a second goal to Rashford’s first-half strike.

The Red Devils have not won a league match without Rashford being on the scoresheet since before the World Cup.

Ten Hag, whose side host Sean Dyche’s Everton on Saturday, admits it is “the truth” that United are too reliant on Rashford, who has 28 goals in all competitions this season.

But finding a solution is not easy. Weghorst has scored just twice since he joined on loan in January and Anthony Martial is finding his feet again after an injury-ravaged season.

Relegation pressure

The pressure at the bottom of the Premier League is growing by the week, with clubs taking drastic measures in the fight for survival.

Crystal Palace, Leeds, Everton and Southampton have all appointed new managers in recent weeks, while Brendan Rodgers left Leicester on Sunday.

Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis said Steve Cooper would remain in charge of the struggling club but warned results must “improve immediately”.

And David Moyes is clinging to his job as West Ham boss after a humiliating 5-1 home defeat by Newcastle in midweek, which left the club hovering above the relegation zone on goal difference alone.

Hammers captain Declan Rice is adamant he and his teammates cannot afford to sulk.

“We are positive that we have enough to get out of this,” he said. “We can only worry about ourselves. We have picked up results. It is down to us. And if we win our games, we will be all right.”


Saturday (1400 GMT unless stated)

Manchester United v Everton (1130), Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest, Brentford v Newcastle, Fulham v West Ham, Leicester v Bournemouth, Tottenham v Brighton, Wolves v Chelsea, Southampton v Manchester City (1630)


Leeds v Crystal Palace (1300), Liverpool v Arsenal (1530)


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