Arsenal host Liverpool
looking to continue their fine Premier League form, having won their last six games.
Since losing 2-1 to Tottenham in February, Arsene Wenger’s side have won nine of the last 10 games in all competitions, while Liverpool are coming off the back of a first league defeat since mid-December.
The Reds’ were beaten 2-1 by Manchester United at Anfield before the international period and now sit five points off their bitter rivals in the race for the fourth Champions League spot.
The reverse fixture in December saw a late Martin Skrtel header secure a 2-2 draw for Liverpool after Arsenal had battled back from a goal down.
Arsenal are hopeful Danny Welbeck will have recovered from a knee problem in time to face the Merseysiders after the forward picked up the injury playing for England against Lithuania.
Despite Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Debuchy, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere being back in training, they are all expected to miss the match.
Liverpool have both Steven Gerrard and Skrtel suspended for their trip to north London, but the likes of Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, Dejan Lovren and Jordon Ibe are all in contention to start after returning to training this week.
Wenger’s side have kept four clean sheets and conceded just one goal in their last five Premier League home games.
Liverpool have won just one of their last 18 away games in all competitions against Arsenal (W1 D7 L10).
There have been eight 90th minute goals and two 45th minute goals scored in the last 12 Premier League meetings between Arsenal and Liverpool.
Liverpool have kept just one clean sheet in their last 18 Premier League matches against Arsenal.
The Gunners have won their last eight Premier League games at the Emirates. The last time they were on a longer run was in November 2005 (13).
Liverpool have equalled a club record six consecutive clean sheets away from home in the league and have now gone nine hours and 19 minutes on the road since they last conceded.
Only Manchester United (7) have won away at Arsenal more often than Liverpool in Premier League history (6).
Arsenal have had the most individual goalscorers in the Premier League this season (15, Liverpool 14).
Liverpool cannot afford to lose at the Emirates. If they do and Manchester United win then they could find themselves eight points behind Louis van Gaal’s side. That’s far too many with the way United are playing at the moment. There will also be plenty of pressure on Raheem Sterling to perform after his comments this week and that could hinder Liverpool.
I fancy the Gunners to win this 2-1. It’s Arsenal all over – the way they’ve hit form right at the end of the campaign but the same mistakes will probably occur at the start of next season.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (7/1 with SkyBet)
Arsenal are odds-on to inflict back-to-back defeats upon Liverpool, with Sky Bet going 4/5 on a home win. The visitors are available to back at 100/30 to win and 13/5 to draw, but the Reds need a win to aid their top-four hopes.
Heading into the contest, Sky Bet give Liverpool a 3/1 chance of finishing in the Champions League spots, with Arsenal virtually assured at 1/10. Olivier Giroud is the first-goal favourite (9/2) and pundit Paul Merson has tipped the Frenchman to score in a 2-1 win for the Gunners at 25/1.