Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC have a point in their season where a draw is not good enough and one team must come out victorious. These two English sides haves faced each on several occasions this season and each time it resulted in a 1-1 draw, but now they face each other in the second leg of the Champions League and one team has to depart.
This weekend Arsenal faced Liverpool for the third time this season and the game resulted in a 1-1 draw, also for the third time this season, leaving Arsenal in the third place six points behind the leaders Manchester United and eight points clear of Liverpool, who are currently fourth in the table. If it results in the same 1-1 draw at Anfield for the Champions League quarter-final then the game heads to a tie-breaker. Most importantly Liverpool scored away from home on the first-leg, so they have an advantage. Therefore Arsenal now have to score at some point of the game to stay in the competition.
When Rafael Benitez was asked if the game would be different from the last three this season he replied, “Yes, I think so, for two reasons – one is that we are playing at Anfield and that is a massive difference, and the other thing is that they [Arsenal] need to win, so it could be an attacking game. We need to win also … we don’t want a 0-0 draw. We prefer to score and we prefer to win. We know that Arsenal can score away from home.”
Liverpool face a dilemma of injuries as Centre-Back Daniel Agger is out with a long term foot injury, wingers Harry Kewell having a groin injury and Jermaine Pennant having a hamstring problem. Benitez admitted that he has a big decision to make on which striker to play up front with Peter Crouch in splendid form. He also admitted that he wants to play Spaniard Fernando Torres supported by Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard with flexible attacking roles.
Arsene Wenger on the other hand does not want to underestimate his opponent and wants to expect the unexpected. He said “A surprise can always happen, even if you know each other very well,” he said. “I believe it will be different this time because, at the end of the game, there will be a sanction – we want to stay in this competition but one of us has to move out. So there is more urgency in this game and less observation.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger failed to hold down his nerves more than usual this season but he thinks his team can cope with the noisy atmosphere of Anfield and keep their cool when needed. He said “They [Liverpool] have the support for them but it’s down to us to keep the crowd quiet, though I accept that’s difficult because here they are a bit louder than anywhere else and, especially, they have more stamina than anywhere else. At the end of the day, it will still be down to how well we play on the pitch.”
There is good news in the Arsenal camp as striker Robin Van Persie is back in their squad, although he limped off the field with a thigh strain last week and missed the subsequent premier league fixture. The injuries for Arsenal include Eduardo Da Silva, Tomas Rosicky, Johan Djourou, Alexandre Song and Bacary Sagna.
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