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Arsenal hoping to save season at upbeat Man United
April 11, 2008 11:44 IST
The north London [Images] side's dreams of winning the Champions League ended on Tuesday when they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Liverpool, who beat them 4-2 at Anfield for a 5-3 aggregate victory.
Arsenal now travel to the other end of the East Lancs Road and Old Trafford having won only two of their last 12 matches in all competitions, and with just one win from their last seven Premier League games.
United, who reached the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over AS Roma at Old Trafford, lead the title race with 77 points and five matches to play, followed by Chelsea (74 points) and Arsenal (71).
If United beat Arsenal they will be nine points clear of them with just four matches remaining, leaving the Gunners an almost impossible task of catching them. Even a draw will leave Arsenal with a mountain to climb.
Chelsea, who also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League this week, do not play their home match against Wigan Athletic until Monday evening.
While the race for the title is now, realistically, a two-horse affair between United and Chelsea, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will not concede defeat until it is mathematically impossible for his side to catch the front two.
Earlier this week, he said Arsenal could still win the Champions League and Premier League double and, although the European dream is over for them and alive for United, Arsenal should not be written off in the title race yet.
They are usually capable of holding their own against United although a poor performance by their standards saw them lose 4-0 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup fifth round on Feb. 16.
In the league, Arsenal won 1-0 at Old Trafford last season and battled back for a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium in November.
The other key issues still to be decided revolve around the fourth Champions League spot, the UEFA Cup places and who goes down with relegated Derby County.
Liverpool, who are fourth with 63 points from 33 matches, face a Blackburn Rovers side still chasing a UEFA Cup spot, at Anfield on Sunday.
Liverpool lead fifth-placed Everton by three points, but Everton face a tough task at Birmingham City on Saturday as Alex McLeish's men, in 17th place, fight to stay out of the relegation places.
Portsmouth, who reached their first FA Cup final since 1939 last weekend, followed up their semi-final victory over West Bromwich Albion with a 1-0 win at West Ham United on Tuesday to close within four points of Everton.
Harry Redknapp's team next face newly invigorated Newcastle United at home on Saturday.
Derby have only pride to play for against seventh-placed Aston Villa at Pride Park, while Villa are still eyeing a UEFA Cup spot.
Bolton Wanderers and Fulham, who are in the relegation zone with Derby, will be desperately looking for three points against mid-table West Ham and Reading, who are just above the drop zone, respectively.
The other matches feature Sunderland at home to Manchester City while League Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur, already sure of a UEFA Cup place next season, host Middlesbrough.