The Trilogy Is Almost Here: Let The Games Begin

Liverpool (The Emirates Stadium, London)
Champions League Quarter Final, 1st Leg
Wednesday 2nd April 2008
Kick Off: 7.45pm – Live On Sky Sports 2

Well here we are, the three matches against Liverpool in the space of only seven days, and the first of which is the 1st leg of the Champions League Quarter Final.

Arsenal yet again play the first leg at home, which most people would think is a disadvantage. Personally I don’t think it makes a difference although the second leg is at the fortress that is Anfield. If Arsenal can win tomorrow and not conceded then that is a big advantage.

The early squad news is that Hleb and Gilberto come back after being doubts, but Rosicky, Sagna and Eduardo are obviously still missing. So that means Senderos will play in alongside Gallas with Toure on the right, or Wenger might opt to use Eboue in the right back position. Arsene has shown he likes to play Eboue in the big games so we’ll have to wait and see.

Everyone knows how Liverpool will be tomorrow.

They will defend and try to nick a goal.

Both Liverpool and Arsenal overcame a Milan side but it has to be said Liverpool were very fortunate with both sendings off in both the 1st and 2nd legs. Despite that though Liverpool are a very dangerous side in knockout competitions. I guess you’ve heard it all before – they are excellent in the cups, Rafa is a genius in Europe, and they’ve reached two finals in 3 seasons.

But everyone said the exact same thing about AC Milan as well.

And Liverpool’s threat is an obvious one, coming from Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. If we can keep those two players quiet then we have a decent chance of progressing. The other danger we have to be wary of is from set-pieces, whether it’s a Steven Gerrard thunderbolt or a header from one of Liverpool’s central defenders.

But they also have weaknesses we need to exploit.

Like Chelsea of late, they seem to be less than confident from crosses, corners and set-pieces. Pepe Reina is a decent shot-stopper but against Manchester United he really struggled from balls into the area and Wes Brown and Cristiano Ronaldo scored goals from crosses.

Luckily Toure, Gallas and Senderos (if he plays) can cause a threat from these situations with quality distribution from Cesc Fabregas.

A man who I would like to start tomorrow night (ahead of Diaby and Eboue) would be Theo Walcott. He looked lively against Bolton and has made an impression virtually every time he has played. He also scored a double against Birmingham and with his raw pace will cause Liverpool all kinds of problems. He also provides some natural width to the team which has been lacking – as Hleb and Diaby tend to come inside. Plus Theo just deserves to start ahead of Eboue who hasn’t been performing for a while now.

I just think that with Hleb on the left and Walcott on the right Arsenal would cause more of a threat in the attacking third. We know Liverpool will make the game as tight as possible and try to get us on the break so mixing it up a little with some crosses from wide positions could help us break the deadlock.

Apart from that, the team picks itself.

GK: Manuel Almunia
RB: Kolo Toure
CB: Philippe Senderos
CB: William Gallas (captain)
LB: Gael Clichy
RM: Emmanuel Eboue
CM: Cesc Fabregas
CM: Mathieu Flamini
LM: Alexander Hleb
FW: Robin Van Persie
FW: Emmanuel Adebayor

For some reason I just think Arsene will start with Eboue on the right. Maybe because of his apparent defensive cover but with Liverpool I would be suprised if their fullbacks cross the half-way line. Hopefully Walcott can start but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow evening.

The only other thing that might be different would be the formation. The personel would be the same but possibly Van Persie might drop deep and play on the left while Hleb would be put down the middle just behind Adebayor.


I hate making predictions before big games. I believe we can score (we are capable of scoring against anyone) tomorrow but if we do is another question. We failed to score against AC Milan in the first leg of the last round but we kept a clean sheet which was important. And however negative Liverpool will be they always have a threat from somewhere. You don’t reach two finals in three years without being ruthless.

You would struggle to remember any matches Liverpool played en route to the two finals they have appeared in and that’s the point. They’re not here to play attractive football, they’re here to win football matches. They get the job done.

Luckily Arsenal are probably still on a high from that stunning comeback against Bolton Wanderers so their confidence will be sky high.

Finally, did anyone catch the BBC: Inside Sport Interview with Arsene Wenger last night?

I’ve read and own most of the books available on Arsene Wenger and I think every Arsenal fan knows what he has done for Arsenal Football Club and football in general in this country. Even though he didn’t say anything I haven’t already heard or read before it was still nice to listen to the genius that is Arsene Wenger. When things aren’t going right for Arsenal it’s sometimes easy to forget exactly what Arsene has done for the club.


12 thoughts on “The Trilogy Is Almost Here: Let The Games Begin

  1. Negative football?

    3-1 against Olympiakos with Gerrards screamer at the end, and Andy Gray’s “You beauty!” scream.

    2-0 against Barca in the Nou Camp

    This year 8-0 against Besitkas, 4-0 against Porto. 4-0 against Marseille. Beat Inter home and away (and they are the best side in the San Siro don’t you know!). Highest scorers in the group stages ever! Biggest win in CL history.

    Guess we’ll stick to being boring then!

    Next you’ll be telling me Torres is rotated too much! lol

    But in the CL, you are right, it’s a results business. Pretty football doesn’t win you the CL. Tactics and passion win the CL. That can have good football as well.

    Hope the games live up to the games recently between the two teams. 3-6, 4-0, 0-3, There’s been some crackers.

    Let the festivities begin.

    PS, do you think that both teams will now play the kids in the middle game?

  2. “You would struggle to remember any matches Liverpool played en route to the two finals they have appeared in and that’s the point. They’re not here to play attractive football, they’re here to win football matches. They get the job done”.

    Er, like the record score against Besiktas (8 – 0), the 4 – 0 thumping of Marseilles away, and the 4 – 1 bashing of F C Porto, and the humiliation of Italy’s best team?

    Yep, I’m struggling to remember those matches, for sure…

  3. Which final are those games en route to Dave?! Those games were this season and it’s only the Quarter Finals at the moment! You’ve got us and Chelsea to get passed yet!

    Tomorrow will be tight, Liverpool don’t have to come out and why should they. Look at AC Milan, they just sat back for the entire 90 minutes at the Emirates and tried to nick a goal because that away goal is so vital. 0-0 might not be a bad result for us but Liverpool would take that too, since the second leg is at Anfield and they would fancy picking us off there.

    I just hope we manage to score a couple of goals and keep a clean sheet!

    And to be fair, most teams are boring when you compare them to Arsenal’s style of play so to say that is a little harsh.

  4. i think there is a mutual respect bewtween both clubs & sets of supporters & i hope that regardless of the results that will remain depite the importance of all 3 games-whoever comes out on top hopefully will have deserved it-regretably that cannot be said of any matches involving both clubs arch enemy, manure-but that’s another story!

  5. Couldn’t agree more.

    I don’t think there is a more mutual respect between two sets of English fans.

    I run a LFC message board, and we have a gooner on there. Always posts intelligent posts, and is well respected.

    As you say, hope it continues. the feeling is very mutual!

  6. Liverpool can win the game easily if they played Peter Crouch. He’s caused us loads of problems in the past and when you see what Drogba did to use the other week then it’s obvious. Luckily he doesn’t play anymore and Benitez doesn’t seem to like starting him.

    I don’t think Babel or Kuyt will give our fullbacks too many problems, so we just have to contain Gerrard and Torres. And Gerrard will probably be playing in a 5 man midfield anyway and running from deep. Flamini will have to have a good game!

    Just hope we don’t concede, because that would play right into the scousers hands. They would be happy if they lost 2-1 or ever 3-1 if it meant they got that precious away goal.

  7. The gunners season comes down to these 10 days and they will spanner it.
    there is absolutely not a chance of the gunners knocking us out, time and time again the 12th man at anfield has shone through so start coming to terms with it now chaps.
    Man U will win the league and deserve it too.
    i love the way Arsenal play football, its nothing short of magical but as long as they keep forgetting to play Englishmen in an English side i hope they get spanked, heavily.

  8. Couple of points-Arsenal have no pedigree in europe. Liverpool do. I think Arsenal will choke-especially in the second leg at anfield. Whoever said these are just two extra premiership games is wrong. Liverpool will have alot more confidence going into these two games than the league game on sat. Secondly, yes Arsenal came back well on saturday- but to say it was a great result, great display etc diregards the fact that it was afterall only Bolton they were playing…

  9. Enough tosh about how teams play better in Europe. That only made sense if you’re playing a foreign team that doesn’t know you well. With Arsenal v Liverpool I treat it as 2 extra prem games.

    We need to keep a clean sheet at home to have any chance of progressing to put the pressure on Liverpool not to concede at home in the second leg. The AC Milan 2nd leg was always advantage to us mentally beacause they would have had to score 1 more goal than we did. I hope for the same scenario going into the 2nd leg at Anfield with a lead or at worst a goaless draw.

    c’mon you gunners!

  10. Guuner7. If it was tosh about playing better in Europe, how come we’ve beaten Chelsea twice in the CL (and they know us better than anyone), yet we we have only beaten them once in the league in 10 attempts.

  11. Hate to say it but I have to agree with Rafa The Gaffer. Liverpool are the kings of knockout football. There is no team better. They won god knows how many cups under Houllier and 2 finals in 3 season in the Champions League, against the best sides in world football, tells its own story.

    Liverpool have a shocking record against Chelsea in the league but I can recall many victories in the Champions League and the FA Cup. I agree with the article – Liverpool are ruthless!

    And Gunner7, you can’t compare this to a Premiership game! The hype, the build up and the pressure is that of a massive European game. And if it was a league game, it wouldn’t matter if we won or lost 5-0, because fundamentally it’s either 3 points or none. Here however, the result is vital going into the second leg, and to whether we progress or not. If it was a league game Arsenal could afford to go gung-ho but that’s just not possible tonight.

    I just hope we can keep Liverpool out because even if they nick one goal I think it will be hell going to Anfield because on a European night that place is a fortress.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.