crunch time for arsenal

LONDON - Arsenal travel to Chelsea on Sunday knowing that defeat would almost certainly end their hopes of winning the Premier League this season.

LONDON - Arsenal travel to Chelsea on Sunday knowing that defeat would almost certainly end their hopes of winning the Premier League this season.

After last week's 3-1 home loss to Manchester United, Arsenal's hope seemed thin, but the door opened a fraction on Tuesday as the league leaders Chelsea could only draw at Hull City.

When Arsenal lost 3-0 at home to Chelsea in November, they slipped 11 points behind.

Now, as keeper Manuel Almunia says, to have closed the gap to six points is progress: "We are on schedule to do good things, we have only a little step to get back to the top of the league."

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, after seeing his side again fail to take the opportunity to open up a clear gap over their challengers, admitted he was troubled by their vulnerability to set-pieces.

United, who lie two points behind Chelsea, are home to bottom side Portsmouth.

Their faltering season has been kept on track by the form of Wayne Rooney.

"He is 24 now but he is only going to get better," said midfielder Ryan Giggs.

Fourth-placed Tottenham face a crucial game in the battle for Champions League qualification as they host Aston Villa, who are two points behind with a game in hand.

Liverpool, a point further back, should welcome back defender Fabio Aurelio from a calf injury for the visit of Everton in the Merseyside derby.

Manchester City, who are level with Liverpool but have two games in hand, travel to Hull. Midfielder Patrick Vieira, who joined from Inter Milan in January, could make his debut for City after recovering from an ankle injury.

At the bottom, West Ham go to Burnley. - Sapa-DPA

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