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Liverpool threaten to derail Arsenal’s EPL title challenge

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Arsenal must stop a Liverpool juggernaut, inspired by the impending departure of Jurgen Klopp, if the Gunners are to maintain Premier League title aspirations at the Emirates on Sunday.

Liverpool restored a five-point lead over Arsenal and Manchester City, who have a game in hand, with a dominant 4-1 destruction of Chelsea on Wednesday despite missing Mohamed Salah due to injury.

The Egyptian will again be absent, but Klopp’s men have shown no sign of missing their top goalscorer since he departed to represent his country at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Diogo Jota opened the scoring against Chelsea to take his tally to four in the last four games.

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Darwin Nunez did everything but score in midweek as the Uruguayan set a record as the first Premier League player to hit the woodwork four times in one match but he teed up Luis Diaz to round off a night to savour for the home fans at Anfield.

Klopp is determined that the news of his exit at the end of the season does not become a distraction as Liverpool remain in the hunt for trophies in four competitions.

So far it appears the Reds are inspired to send their boss out on a high and Klopp is blessed with a wealth of options thanks to a combination of rising stars and returning veterans.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson made their comebacks off the bench against Chelsea, but the former has a huge challenge to get back into the team after Conor Bradley’s man-of-the-match performance.

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The Northern Irishman scored his first Liverpool goal and provided two assists from right-back against Chelsea.

“It is a joy to watch him,” said Klopp of the 20-year-old. “The academy is doing an incredible job.”

Arsenal’s cup exit rounded off a run of three consecutive defeats around the turn of the year that has severely damaged their quest for a first league title in 20 years.

Mikel Arteta’s men have steadied the ship with back-to-back victories over Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.

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But defeat could realistically end Arsenal’s title challenge should they fall eight points behind a relentless Liverpool.

RICHARLISON’S RETURN THREATENS EVERTON

Across Merseyside, the outlook is not so bright, as Everton dropped into the bottom three in midweek.

The Toffees are feeling the effect of a 10-point deduction for breaches of the Premier League’s financial rules and could yet face further sanctions for overstepping spending restrictions again last season.

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Everton’s appeal against the points penalty was heard this week with a verdict expected by the middle of February.

But they desperately need to get back to winning on the pitch after a five-game run without victory in the Premier League.

Tottenham travel to Goodison on Saturday fresh from moving into the top four thanks to a 3-2 victory over Brentford.

Read Also: West Ham draw with Bournemouth after Phillips debut blunder

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In the absence of Son Heung-min, who is leading South Korea’s bid for Asian Cup glory, a familiar face poses the biggest threat to Everton.

After a difficult start to his Spurs career, Richarlison has scored seven times in his last seven Premier League games.

MAN UTD EYE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CHARGE

Manchester United’s dramatic 4-3 win at Wolves on Thursday cut the gap to the top five to eight points.

There could be a fifth place in next season’s Champions League depending on how English sides perform for the rest of this season in European competition.

United remain in the race with Aston Villa faltering and with a trip to come to Villa Park next weekend.

First up, there is the chance for Erik ten Hag’s men to move into the top six when West Ham visit Old Trafford on Sunday.

United produced perhaps their best 45 minutes of the season in the first half at Molineux in midweek and will hope the return of Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro from injury will result in a strong end to the season.

SATURDAY

Everton v Tottenham (12H30), Brighton v Crystal Palace, Burnley v Fulham, Newcastle v Luton (all 1500), Sheffield United v Aston Villa (17H30)

SUNDAY

Chelsea v Wolves, Manchester United v West Ham, Bournemouth v Nottingham Forest (all 1400), Arsenal v Liverpool (16H30)

MONDAY

Brentford v Manchester City (20H00)

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