Liverpool must beat Arsenal to keep Premier League top-four hopes alive, says Paul Merson

Paul Merson says Liverpool cannot afford to lose against Arsenal
Paul Merson says Liverpool cannot afford to lose against Arsenal (Pictures: Sky Sports)

Paul Merson has heaped pressure on Liverpool ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash against Arsenal by claiming only a victory at the Emirates will keep their top-four hopes alive.

Jurgen Klopp’s side travel to north London on Saturday sitting seventh in the table, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and 25 points adrift of champions-elect Manchester City.

With just nine matches remaining of the 2020-21 campaign, time is running out for Liverpool to climb up the table and secure Champions League qualification for next season.

‘Liverpool have got to win this game. They have to get Champions League football for next season,’ former Arsenal and England star Merson told Sky Sports.

‘If they are to have any chance, Jurgen Klopp’s side need to win at the Emirates. I expect Chelsea to win at lunchtime on Saturday when they play West Brom at Stamford Bridge.

‘If Liverpool don’t then win, the gap will be too big, in my opinion. It could be as wide as eight points with eight games left to play.

‘However, if Liverpool can beat Arsenal, it will be a massive win for them. All of a sudden, one of their harder games disappears and Chelsea have had one of their easier games as we reach the crucial part of the season.’

Mikel Arteta will likely prioritise the Europa League over the Premier League
Mikel Arteta will likely prioritise the Europa League over the Premier League (Picture: Getty)

While Sunday’s clash is of immense importance to Liverpool and their top-four hopes, Arsenal have already privately turned their attentions to the Europa League.

Currently down in ninth, Arsenal will find is almost impossible to break into the top-four this season, but winning the Europa League will see them return to the Champions League.

I don’t think it’s as big a game for Arsenal,’ Merson added.

‘They play Slavia Prague next week in the Europa League and it’s hard to see them having much interest in the game against Liverpool at all.

‘I’d expect at least five of the players who are going to be playing next Thursday to not play in this game.

Liverpool face Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid in the Champions League
Liverpool face Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid in the Champions League (Picture: Getty)

‘All Arsenal’s eggs are in one basket now. There is no point in them beating Liverpool and then getting beat by Slavia Prague. That’s no value to them at all.

‘Top four is out of the window in the league. There are too many teams above them, even if they went on a bit of a run.

‘But after the quarter-final draw, they have a fantastic chance of doing something in the Europa League.’

Following Sunday’s match, Liverpool face Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash, while Arsenal take on Slavia Prague in the same round of the Europa League.

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