Will Manchester United or Liverpool triumph in the race for the top four? | inside World Soccer

With just eight games remaining in the 2014/2015 Premier League season, there are bound to be crucial fixtures which could determine the outcome at both ends of the table.


While a number of teams are battling to save themselves at the wrong end of the table, there are five teams competing for a top four finish in what could be the closest race in recent years.

Arsenal and Liverpool are two teams who find themselves within touching distance of Champions League football, with the upcoming fixture at the Emirates presenting an opportunity for either side to get one over on their closest rivals.

It has all the ingredients of being another enthralling game between the two sides, but while both sets of fans will back their team to win, defeat for either team could signal the end of their top four aspirations and whilst the winning side's fans are busy cheering on their team, those who don't go through may spend a lot more time on the Football Star game at Betsafe dreaming of glory the following season.

Well, that's certainly a lot more portable a game than the FIFA console games!


Superb form

Five consecutive victories has combined with a wonderful run of thirteen games unbeaten which makes Liverpool the in-form team heading into the final furlong of the race for the top four.

Brendan Rodgers accepted that his team were far from their best at Swansea, but the 1-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium ensured they remained just two points behind their fierce rivals and not cut adrift.

Jordan Henderson is currently enjoying a wonderful purple patch in front of goal, but Liverpool will need to perform much better in all areas of the pitch if they wish to leapfrog Manchester United, and potentially Arsenal, by securing all three points.

The clean sheet in South Wales equalled a club record of six away games without conceding a goal – some achievement for a backline that has come under scrutiny this season, particularly Simon Mignolet who looks a transformed player following a spell on the sidelines.

Rodgers may also be boosted by more options in midfield and upfront, with Lucas Leiva and Mario Balotelli poised to return following a groin strain and illness respectively.


Picking up points

Despite still not performing at their very best, Manchester United have shown their unerring ability to pick up vital points when it matters most.

Van Gaal may still have his doubters, but the Dutchman has reignited an element of belief and confidence back into the team that was evidently missing last season under David Moyes.

Their ability to get the job done has carried Manchester United towards a potential return to Champions League football, but they remain miles behind Chelsea and Manchester City in terms of quality.

They will have to be at their very best to see of Liverpool who will fancy their chances of playing against a team who have not been performing well away from Old Trafford.

However, it may be the perfect opportunity for Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao to finally show their quality and make a telling difference in a big game.

The latter, in particular, has struggled to find his feet, and with Robin Van Persie out until April with an ankle injury, it may ultimately be down to Wayne Rooney to lead from the front and fire Manchester United towards an invaluable three points.

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