Liverpool hope that Manchester United will be so distracted by the mouthwatering Champions League final against Barcelona that they will take their eye off the Premier League title race.
Liverpool players say they are ready to take advantage if United slip up on Sunday against local rival Manchester City, who have won their last four games.
By then, Liverpool, who have scored 26 goals in winning seven of their last eight Premier League games, could be on top of the standings on goal difference for one day at least by winning at West Ham on Saturday.
Xabi Alonso will miss Liverpool's match at West Ham after failing to recover from a foot injury inflicted by Joey Barton's illegal challenge that resulted in the Newcastle midfielder's dismissal.
The Spain midfielder is still badly bruised from Barton's sliding tackle in Sunday's 3-0 victory over Newcastle.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said today: "We had an idea that he could be fit for this game but in the end it was impossible."
Fernando Torres will return from a hamstring strain for the match at West Ham.
"We will keep going until the end. We won't surrender when we're so close," Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said. "Winning the title with this club would mean the world to me."
If the results go the wrong way for Liverpool, however, the league title could be out of reach on Wednesday when United, who have a game in hand, face Wigan.
Gerrard says his team's form keeps them in contention for a first league title since 1990. But it's likely he will have to wait another season.
"We have got world-class players, we have turned in some fantastic displays of attacking football and some really solid defensive performances. We have got absolutely everything you need to be successful at the very highest level."
But United manager Alex Ferguson is confident that his team, who won 3-1 at Arsenal in the Champions League semi-finals to reach the final for the second season in a row, are also playing at their best after five straight Premier League wins.
"The team has come into top form at the right time," he said today. "City have won their last four games and they've got some good players. But we're going into the game with a great deal of confidence ourselves.
"A lot of our players are smelling the big games now. If you look at the last few weeks we've had a fantastic performance in Porto, two great performances against Arsenal, the second half against Tottenham and a really good display at Middlesbrough."
Third place Chelsea are virtually out of contention with six points to make up on United and have a tough game at fourth place Arsenal on Sunday.
The game is a meeting of two eliminated Champions League semi-finalists and both the Blues and the Gunners will be out to lift the gloom of European failure.
Chelsea are three points behind Liverpool and six ahead of Arsenal and coach Guus Hiddink, who has led the club to an FA Cup final against Everton, hopes his team will bounce back from the acrimonious end to its 1-1 draw with Barcelona on Wednesday.
Chelsea appeared to be going through to the Champions League final until Barcelona equalised in the third minute of injury time to advance on away goals. The Chelsea players were angry with the referee for disallowing several penalty appeals and Hiddink hopes his players will have calmed down enough to take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
"When you have 11 grown men battling to get to the final and at least three penalty decisions don't go your way, you can't expect men to walk off quietly," said Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.
"There was nothing violent, it was just angry because we had worked so very hard to get this far."
Chelsea take on an Arsenal side that caved in against Man United on Tuesday, losing 3-1 at home in the other Champions League semi-final, and manager Arsene Wenger has to lift a side which has failed to win any title for the fourth season in a row.
Down at the foot of the standings, last place West Bromwich Albion appear certain to be relegated and needs a home victory over Wigan to stand any chance of survival.
The Baggies are three points behind Newcastle and Middlesbrough who have 31 points but don't play each other until Monday.
One place above the northeastern neighbors lies Hull who have a three-point advantage over them with three rounds of games to go. The Tigers host Stoke, who are virtually safe.
Sunderland, who have 35 points, visit Bolton while Blackburn, 37 points and almost safe in 15th place, host Portsmouth who are one place above with 38.
Fifth-place Aston Villa goes to Fulham and Everton, one place behind, welcome Tottenham with all four clubs chasing spots in next season's Europa League, the rebranded Uefa Cup.Reuse content