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Liverpool face huge test from Arsenal
April 08, 2008 10:59 IST
Arsenal may be down but manager Arsene Wenger said they are very definitely not yet out of the hunt for major honours this season, which they can prove when they face Liverpool for the third time in a week on Tuesday.
Wenger takes his weary men to Anfield for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final after two 1-1 draws with Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in the last few days.
Wednesday's draw in the first leg of their Champions League tie was followed by another 1-1 draw in the English Premier League there on Saturday that left Arsenal third in the table and six points behind Manchester United with five matches to play.
Admitting to the club's web site that Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Aleksandr Hleb are all "feeling tired", Wenger also said Arsenal's Champions League adventure is far from over.
"It's a very important one for us and for them. We will play our game on Tuesday night and try to win the game, and give absolutely everything," he said.
"Anyway, our season has not been disastrous, you know. People expected us to be between 10th and 12th at the beginning of the season so we are beyond expectation."
Arsenal proved against AC Milan in the last round they could overcome the disadvantage of a home draw in the first leg and win away to advance, which they did with a 2-0 win at the San Siro after a 0-0 draw at the Emirates.
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas, talking to Spanish TV channel Antenna 3, said that playing in front of Liverpool's passionate crowd on a European night could also help their chances.
"It is incredible the passion with which Liverpool fans live their games," he said. "Even the smallest cup game has the greatest atmosphere there, it is as if they play with 12 men. The good thing about playing away is that we don't have the pressure from our own fans."
Liverpool tend to reserve their best football for their European matches and defended superbly against Arsenal last week after falling behind to an Adebayor goal, equalising soon afterwards through Dirk Kuyt.
If they keep a clean sheet on Tuesday they will advance to the last four, with coach Rafa Benitez likely to try to frustrate Arsenal's exciting approach play then look for a quick breakaway from his own team to score on the counter-attack.
"Arsenal have a style that everyone knows," Benitez said after last Wednesday's match.
"They can have plenty of possession, they can play long passes with Fabregas, they can play in between with [Robin] van Persie or Hleb. So we knew we needed to work hard.
"We knew they would have possession so we needed to control, regain and play counter-attack."
Few teams can survive an Arsenal onslaught for a whole match but that is probably what Liverpool will have to do to capitalise on their home advantage and reach a semi-final against either Chelsea or Fenerbahce.
Liverpool: Pepe Reina; Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel, Sami Hyypia, John-Arne Riise; Fabio Aurelio, Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Xabi Alonso, Yossi Benayoun; Fernando Torres
Arsenal: Manuel Almunia; Kolo Toure, William Gallas, Phillipe Senderos, Gael Clichy; Emmanuel Eboue, Aleksandr Hleb, Matthieu Flamini, Cesc Fabregas; Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor
Referee: Peter Frojdfeldt (Sweden)
UEFA Champions League 2007-08: The Complete Coverage