Only Premiership win will do for rested Reds
Midweek matches could see title race take another twist. -AFP
LIVERPOOL (AFP) - Liverpool head into their vital Premier League clash with Arsenal well-rested but knowing that only a victory will do on Tuesday as they look to maintain the pressure on Manchester United.
The build-up to the game will once again be dominated by the continued bickering between Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez and United's Sir Alex Ferguson.
Their row, which first became public when Benitez publicly criticised his counter-part back in January, escalated once again last week with Ferguson branding the Liverpool manager "arrogant".
But the sparring will be given a new context by the midweek matches that could see the title race take another twist.
Liverpool host Arsene Wenger's side on Tuesday with the opportunity to move two points above the leaders, who will still have two games in hand.
Ferguson's team will then go into Wednesday evening's match with Portsmouth at Old Trafford with their title credentials once again under scrutiny.
If Liverpool lose, United have the chance to move five points clear and will still have a game in hand.
With Liverpool having just six matches left, Benitez accepts his team can simply not afford any more slip-ups.
He will once again be without Steven Gerrard, who is still struggling with a groin problem that has kept him out of Liverpool's past two matches.
Although that absence will be a blow, Benitez is pleased that squad players are hitting form at the right time to boost the Reds' run-in.
In particular, he feels that defenders Daniel Agger and Emiliano Insua can make a significant contribution to the run in.
Benitez said: "Insua is improving and the competition for the left back position is very high with Fabio Aurelio and Andrea Dossena.
"Insua is doing well and the team is doing well. Hopefully we can see Emiliano fighting for his position until the end of the season with Fabio and Dossena.
"Daniel is a centre back who can bring the ball forward and score goals, not just from set pieces. He is doing well and he is working very hard."
Arsenal are still getting over their 2-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat to London rivals Chelsea on Saturday.
They also have a Champions League tie with Manchester United next week to concern them but Robin van Persie is doubtful for the game at Anfield due to a groin problem picked up at the weekend.
The Gunners sit fourth in the table and are seven points above fifth-placed Aston Villa and six points adrift of third-placed Chelsea.
But both Kolo Toure and Theo Walcott are relieved to be heading to Anfield so soon after their disappointment at Wembley.
England winger Walcott said: "Everyone is down, but we have to forget about this, because we have got a very big game on Tuesday against Liverpool.
"We dominated the first 30 minutes, but then Chelsea came back and took over the midfield a bit. Frank Lampard was the man of the match, and his experience showed.
"They have got a lot of experienced players and they showed that they have some world-class players in the team.
"We will learn from it and bounce back, because that is all we can do. It is another great experience for us all, but we have got to move on.
"It is a busy month for us and we are looking forward to it."
Toure feels that Wenger's men will benefit from their experiences this season and feels they have the potential to make a significant improvement.
He said: "This can be just the start for this team, because there are some really good players coming through.
"The good thing is that we only have a couple of days to get this loss off our back. We will head to Liverpool on Tuesday and look to get the three points."
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