Wenger: Torres key to Reds

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes keeping star striker Fernando Torres fighting fit is key to Liverpool's chances of sustaining their Barclays Premier League title challenge.

Torres has not played since the end of November because of a hamstring problem and will again sit out Sunday's trip to Emirates Stadium.

"If you ask them, they will want Torres on the pitch so they will not be stronger without Torres in the long term," said the Gunners boss.

"In the short term, sometimes you can stay without your stronger players - but if that should last until March or April of course it will be detrimental to their chances.

"I believe if it is only a hamstring problem he will back in January."

The Gunners head into Sunday's encounter looking for a clean sweep of victories over their likely title rivals.

Despite failing to build on the win over Chelsea by dropping points at Middlesbrough last weekend, Arsenal got lucky as all of the teams above them also drew.

However, with a resurgent Aston Villa - whom the Gunners face away on Boxing Day - now ahead of them in fourth spot, Wenger knows the margins for further error are all but gone.

"We are highly motivated to beat another of the so-called top four, and I am convinced we have the quality to do it," he said.

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Premier League
Fernando Torres
Aston Villa

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