The disappointment of losing to arch rivals Manchester United will undoubtedly linger around Anfield throughout the international break, but the result may have damaged Liverpool’s chances of finishing in the top four. Losing 2-1 has created a five point gap between the two teams, with Brendan Rodgers knowing that it was an opportunity missed to leapfrog United into fourth. It also ended Liverpool’s wonderful thirteen game unbeaten run in the Premier League, which had put the Reds within touching distance of qualifying for the Champions League for the second consecutive season. However, Liverpool will now have to gather themselves and prepare for a potential make-or-break trip to Arsenal who are usually extremely strong on home soil. As the Gunners have continued to meet expectations in recent weeks and stormed up the table to third, it could be the fixture that decides Liverpool’s destiny this season.
Liverpool cannot afford to be too disheartened by their superb win of five straight wins coming to an end, as there are still plenty of points to play for in the remaining eight games of the season. The manner of the defeat, arguably compounded by Steven Gerrard’s crazy red card after less than a minute of coming on at half time, may have disappointed Rodgers and the Anfield faithful, but as Liverpool are now entering the business end of their campaign, there is no time to feel sorry our ourselves. Travelling to the Emirates may be the last thing that Liverpool need in their efforts to bounce straight back, but it also offers a wonderful opportunity for the players to redeem themselves and secure three points which could put the Reds right back in contention for the top four. The international break will provide more time for Jordan Ibe and John Flanagan to return to full fitness, while Adam Lallana is fully expected to recover from a knock he picked up against Manchester United.
Gunners firing on all cylinders
A trip to Arsenal may have come at the worst time for Liverpool, with Arsene Wenger’s side firing on all cylinders in their pursuit of an 18th consecutive season of Champions League football. The 2-1 victory at Newcastle was their sixth in a row, and ninth in their last ten league fixtures, as Arsenal have recaptured the brand of football that makes them so difficult to stop when in full flow. While Rodgers may look to target Arsenal’s vulnerable defence which can succumb to errors when put under pressure, it is at the other end of the pitch where Liverpool will have to be at their very best. Olivier Giroud is enjoying a purple patch in front of goal, while Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil have begun to find form. Arsenal may also be boosted by the return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere who will provide Wenger with even more midfield options, but the game against Liverpool will come too soon for Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy.