Arsenal and Liverpool seek to halt drift

2014-11-28 13:49

London – Arsenal and Liverpool will each attempt to arrest damaging sequences of results when they return to Premier League action this weekend following mid-week exertions in the Champions League.

The two teams have fallen out of title contention over recent weeks, with Arsenal now 15 points behind leaders Chelsea following consecutive losses and Liverpool three points further back after three straight defeats.

Arsenal’s poor form has seen manager Arsène Wenger’s 18-year stewardship called into question as rarely before, amid concerns that a climate of tolerated under-achievement has infiltrated the club.

However, Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League saw Arsenal reach the last 16 for the 15th consecutive season, boosting morale ahead of tomorrow’s trip to West Bromwich Albion.

“We have to show character and that is what makes me really happy for the next few games, because we have to sharpen up in the Premier League as well,” said Arsenal’s German centre back Per Mertesacker.

“Saturday is a good chance to show everyone that we are still alive. We have to come back in the Premier League and that is the next target.”

Victory over Dortmund came at a cost, with Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta joining a host of players on the sidelines after injuring his calf.

Jack Wilshere has been ruled out for three months after undergoing ankle surgery, but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny should return from the hip injury he sustained in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss at home to Manchester United.

Liverpool host Stoke City tomorrow having slumped to 12th place in the table after successive defeats by Newcastle United, Chelsea and Crystal Palace.

They also received a setback in the Champions League, conceding an 88th-minute equaliser to draw 2-2 at Ludogorets Razgrad, but can still secure a place in the knockout phase by beating Basel at home next month.

Welsh midfielder Joe Allen believes Brendan Rodgers’ side should draw encouragement from their display in Bulgaria, saying: “The manager mentioned that it was almost like a fresh start and we see it that way as players.

“It’s up to us to turn it around and it is now back to Premier League action at the weekend. We are looking forward to giving everything to get three points.”

Second-place Southampton’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa last Monday means that Chelsea’s advantage at the summit has swelled to six points ahead of their visit to 14th-place Sunderland tomorrow.

José Mourinho’s side cruised into the Champions League last 16 with a breezy 5-0 win at Schalke on Tuesday and in-form midfielder Cesc Fàbregas says their football is as enjoyable to create as it is to watch.

“We have a very young, talented team,” said the former Barcelona player, who has already contributed 10 goals to the Chelsea cause this term.

“The mood is great and hopefully it will grow as the season goes on because you know that for the next two months it’s going to be really, really tough – a lot of games.”

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