Liverpool face Arsenal in a must-win tie at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. The Reds will have some pressure on them after losing against Manchester United at home and ending their unbeaten run of 13 games. There isn’t as big a build-up to this game as there was against the Red Devils which is a good thing for the Merseysiders as they can keep all their focus on the game and not on the pressures surrounding it. But because of the loss to Louis van Gaal’s side, this game could prove to be the most crucial one in the season as a loss could have extremely detrimental effects on the season. Here are three reasons why a win over Arsenal is absolutely essential.
Anything but three points will end Champions League hopes
A loss against Wenger’s men and Manchester United winning against Aston Villa at home (which almost comes as a given, considering their recent form) will mean Liverpool will be left eight points the Manchester club. Moreover, wins for Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur against Everton and Burnley (respectively) could mean Liverpool fall in the seventh place in the table. Of course, there will be seven games remaining after this and Liverpool’s most serious competitors for the fourth place, Manchester United, have tricky fixtures remaining. Moreover, the phrase “never say never” stands extremely true in football so it is not wise to rule anything out. However, a loss will almost certainly end Liverpool’s faint hopes for Champions League qualification next season. The failure of getting to the illustrious European competition could be considered catastrophic and mean
Raheem Sterling could be off in the summer, maybe to Liverpool’s opponents of the night
Sterling’s latest interview with BBC has caused a lot of controversy and some hostility as well. His comments of being flattered by Arsenal’s interest have certainly provided a subtext to this game, and while Liverpool fans may have been extremely irked by the player’s actions, they have to understand that the European Golden Boy winner is not entirely being unreasonable if he leaves the club in the summer due to the lack of Champions League football next season. Raheem Sterling is not a finished article, but he is an absolute beastly talent. He can become a big player in the future, and it can’t be denied that Liverpool are the best option for him at the moment. And the fact that he is just 20 means that he should ideally stay, develop his game further (it’s not like he has perfected every department of his game), and then see where things stand at the end of 2016 or 2017. However, the lack of Champions League football next season, which could be a direct result of the failure to win this game, could mean that Sterling’s decision gets made by the club well in advance of when it should be. In case Liverpool don’t finish in the top 4 this season, their only best hope from the season is an FA Cup win, which might be the only other way the Englishman decides to stay with the club for another season or more.
Liverpool’s confidence before FA Cup quarter-final replay is dented
Liverpool take on Blackburn Rovers in the replay of the FA Cup quarter-final and a loss against Arsenal could mean the team’s confidence and morale is low when they meet Rovers at their homeground to try and reach the semi-final. An ideal Liverpool season (from the start) would have been finishing in the top 4 and with a trophy (Brendan Rodgers’s first with the club). If the Reds do both, it should be considered as a successful season because they sustained the efforts of last one (the only real disappointment being crashing out of the Champions League in such a disappointing fashion). But if they don’t finish in the top 4 and still get the FA Cup trophy, at least there will be one positive to take away from the game. Of course, there are two more tough games in the competition remaining, if Liverpool surpass Blackburn. A loss against Arsenal could really demoralize the team for the mid-week clash against Blackburn. A win, could do the opposite and help the Reds finish the season on a real high.
This match carries a lot of weight and the Reds need to ensure they get a win out of the game (even a draw might not prove to be enough eventually).