Premier League: Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2
Robin Van Persie struck a stunning double to lead Arsenal to a 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.
The result means Kenny Dalglish's men still have only one English Premier League victory to their name in 2012, and are now 10 points behind the Gunners with a game in hand as the season enters its final stages.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have extended their unbeaten run in the league to five matches and will be delighted to emerge with a victory from one of their hardest remaining fixtures.
With so much at stake, both managers kept faith with the majority of the players who helped their teams enjoy morale-boosting victories last weekend.
Reds boss Dalglish was forced to do without captain Steven Gerrard, injured on England duty on Wednesday evening.
Carling Cup final hero Dirk Kuyt was preferred to Andy Carroll alongside Luis Suarez up front, while Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing were also handed starts.
Despite injury concerns after their international participation in midweek, both Van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen started for Arsenal, as Arsene Wenger elected to field an unchanged side to the one which came back to stun Tottenham 5-2 a week ago.
Chances were at a premium early, but it was the Arsenal defence which looked the more vulnerable in the face of Liverpool pressure, with Suarez in particular causing problems.
The Uruguayan forced Wojciech Szczesny into an awkward headed clearance outside his area before Jordan Henderson wasted a promising two-on-one situation.
Moments later, the hosts spurned a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. Referee Mark Halsey awarded a penalty when Suarez was felled in the box by Szczesny, but the Pole redeemed himself superbly by saving both Kuyt's initial penalty and the rebound.
The score remained goalless but the Arsenal defence were still getting caught out repeatedly high up the pitch, and this escape simply postponed the inevitable. Henderson soon found himself in acres of space on the right flank, and his dangerous cross was inadvertently turned into his own net by Laurent Koscielny as he tried to clear.
Having seized the initiative, Liverpool poured forward in a bid to increase their superiority. A neat move from the left to the right flank again found Henderson all on his own and, after his low shot was parried by Szczesny, Suarez crashed the rebound against the post.
But just as a Reds second looked imminent, Arsenal equalised with their first clear chance of the game. Bacary Sagna curled a superb cross in from deep and Van Persie showed good strength to hold off Carragher before powering a header beyond Reina.
Stung by the setback, the hosts attacked with fresh vigour. Suarez's brilliant jinking run and shot forced another top save from Szczesny, before Kuyt glanced a pinpoint Charlie Adam cross against the woodwork.
The visitors sought to gain a foothold after the break, but they suffered a blow almost immediately when Mikel Arteta had to be stretchered off after a nasty accidental collision with Henderson. Abou Diaby replaced the Spaniard to make only his third appearance of the season.
Arsenal now enjoyed a greater share of possession in the midfield, but it was Liverpool who still posed the greater attacking threat, and Szczesny had to be brave to parry away Spearing's knock-down with Kelly bearing down upon him.
Neither side looked particularly convincing when dealing with deliveries from wide areas, and moments after Kelly had missed a chance to put Liverpool back in front when he failed to make any clean contact with Kuyt's precise centre, Reina denied Theo Walcott's deflected strike with his trailing legs.
But just as the game appeared to be petering out into a draw, another piece of brilliance from Van Persie won it. Having once again escaped the attentions of Carragher, the Dutchman met Alex Song's brilliant chipped pass with a sumptuous volley which flew past Reina.
Liverpool poured forward but never looked like equalising, and now face a huge challenge to secure Champions League football next season.