A season defining week lies ahead for Liverpool

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After a humiliating FA cup defeat at Oldham, Liverpool face two Premier League matches that will give and accurate picture of how close they are to competing for Champions League qualification.

Despite sitting seventh in the league, and having produced some excellent performances this season, there is still a large question mark over how Liverpool cope when playing against the better sides in the Premiership.

Their recent big win over Norwich showed again that, on their day, Liverpool can flatten an opponent, but they have yet to produce any kind of winning performance against a top side in the league, and the next two games will give a stern test to their ambitions of competing for the top four.

Brendan Rodgers' side travel to Arsenal on Wednesday night, before playing Manchester City at the Etihad on the following Sunday. Their current record against the six sides ahead of them does not make for pretty reading, with four losses and three draws in the seven matches played. Liverpool fans can rightly argue that they were hard done by in some of those matches, with the 2-2 draw with Everton perhaps standing out the most in that regard, but nevertheless, they have yet to beat a top side this season.

They now seem ready to change that record. The arrival of Daniel Sturridge has added a clinical edge to their sometimes blunt attacking play, and Rodgers has even managed to start getting performances out of players like Henderson and Downing. Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard are still the main threats in the side, but there has been less pressure on Suarez in particular in recent weeks.

The match with Arsenal is probably the most important of the two games. Manchester City are starting to hit top form, and a loss at the Etihad is no disgrace for any side.

However Arsenal have not always been consistent at the Emirates, and if Liverpool can unsettle them early in the match, they could take three points.

By the same taken, if Arsenal get their tails up, Liverpool could face a demoralising loss that would make ambitions of a top four finish look faintly ludicrous. Either way, we should know a lot more about Liverpool's potential this season by the end of the week.

Can Liverpool bounce back?

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