reds have gunners in tight corner

LONDON - Defeat by Chelsea on Sunday left Arsenal nine points behind the leaders, and if they are to have any part in the title race, the sense is that they must close the gap this week.

They face Liverpool at home tomorrow - and if they lose they will lead Rafa Benitez's side by only two points and could find themselves sucked into the race for fourth place. Both Chelsea and Manchester United have testing away trips, to Everton and Aston Villa respectively. These matches also take place tomorrow.

"We are not in the best of positions but we will not give up," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. "It is vital against Liverpool but it was vital (against Chelsea) and we still lost."

After seven games unbeaten - a run that has included six clean sheets - defender Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool are hitting at just the right time.

"We are going into the game in a great frame of mind but Arsenal away is always difficult," he said.

United, who trail Chelsea by two points, have won six of their last seven games.

"It is in our hands now," said defender Gary Neville. "Chelsea have to come here (to Old Trafford) - and that is where we want to be. We want to win our home games."

Villa, meanwhile, are three points behind Liverpool with a game in hand.

Fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers, who remain in the relegation zone after Sunday's loss to Birmingham City, while Manchester City host Bolton Wanderers. The big game in the relegation scrap sees Sunderland, without a win in 11 games, travel to bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth. - Sapa-DPA