Arsenal vs. Liverpool: What Match Means for Both Teams

Christopher LeoneSenior Analyst IJanuary 30, 2013

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26:  Theo Walcott of Arsenal (C) celebrates with Aaron Ramsey (16) and Olivier Giroud (12) as her scores their third goal during the FA Cup with Budweiser Fourth Round match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal at Amex Stadium on January 26, 2013 in Brighton, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Tonight, Barclays Premier League fans will be treated to a half-dozen matches, with seven of the top nine teams in the league scheduled to play. Overall leader Manchester United will welcome Southampton, while third-ranked Chelsea will visit Reading.

But perhaps the biggest marquee matchup—and most pivotal in the standings—will take place when Liverpool visit the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal.

Arsenal and Liverpool come into Wednesday's game sixth and seventh overall in the table, chasing fourth-ranked Tottenham Hotspur for a spot in the Champions League with 15 matches to go apiece. Tottenham has 41 points, while fifth-place Everton currently has 38; Arsenal and Liverpool have 37 and 34 respectively.

It'll be an uphill battle for Liverpool to take the win, however. Besides their own inconsistency this season, neither Arsenal's play of late nor history are on their side. Arsenal has won their past two games by a score of 8-3, while Liverpool has only one victory in the teams' last 11 league meetings.

A victory for Arsenal would be important to help them keep pace with Everton, who take on West Bromwich Albion tonight as well. If Everton wins and Arsenal loses, they will be a minimum of four points outside of the top five at the end of the night. But if Everton loses and Arsenal wins, Arsenal will hold a two-point advantage over Everton for fifth, with Tottenham firmly in their sights.

But the game could be more important for Liverpool. A win would tie them with Arsenal for sixth in the standings and also break a three-way tie with Swansea City and West Brom. Swansea doesn't play again until they travel to face West Ham United on Saturday, but West Brom's match with Everton remains critical.

If West Brom wins and Liverpool loses, the Reds will fall to eighth in the table, three points behind West Brom in seventh, four behind Everton in sixth and six behind Arsenal in fifth.

That all being said, if Arsenal and Everton both win tonight—perhaps the most likely scenario—the standings remain unaffected, although the point gaps widen. Arsenal will close on fourth place, but remain a point behind both Tottenham and Everton. Liverpool, on the other hand, will be a full two games behind the top six in the standings, its Champions League hopes contingent on a second-half surge.

For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.