It is part three of the Arsenal Liverpool triology and the only one that will be played at Anfield. Both the previous games ended in 1-1 draws. This one, is the most important one of the lot, as the Champions League is probably the only piece of silverware that both the teams can win this season. Arsenal are still in the race for the Premiership, but have seen their campaign falter in recent weeks, and it is unlikely that Manchester United and Chelsea will go off track.
Coming back to this game, Arsenal were the better side in the first leg. They will rue the penalty that was not given, as well as Bendtner coming in the way of Fabregas’ shot. Liverpool on the other hand will be very satisfied with the 1-1 result at the Emirates. They have an away goal, and the crowd at Anfield will do its best to intimidate Arsene’s youngsters. On Saturday, Benitez started with only three players from the midweek Champions League. Wenger also chose to rest his main players, but was forced to bring them on after Liverpool took the lead through Peter Crouch. Crouch’s goal has given Benitez a bit of a selection headache, as the lanky striker has a good record against Arsenal, having scored a hat trick against them before. But with Fernando Torres performing so consistently, and Andriy Voronin also pushing for a spot, Crouch may have to do with a substitute’s appearance. Dirk Kuyt will play a key role on the right wing, being the club’s top scorer in Europe
Injury stricken Robin Van Persie has been named in Arsenal’s 18 member squad, although it is unclear whether he will start. Cesc Fabregas will again be the driving force for Arsenal from the centre of the park, much like Gerrard will be for Liverpool. There is no dearth of creative talent in this Arsenal squad, with the likes of Hleb, Flamini and Walcott present. Jermaine Pennant will not figure for Liverpool. Agger and Kewell have been unavailable for a while now, and this game will be no different.
Liverpool should not go for a 0-0 draw. Sometimes a mentality like that can work against you, as Liverpool’s 1999 squad may remember. Arsenal will aim to get that all important away goal. If it comes to penalties, Liverpool should fancy their chances having beaten West Ham in the 2006 FA Cup and A.C. Milan in the 2005 Champions League. Chelsea were unable to get past this hurdle in the 2005 CL semifinals. The last time Liverpool lost in European competition to an English side was nearly four decades back, against Leeds in the 1970-71 Fairs Cup.
I’d have to give Liverpool a 1-0 win with Gerrard scoring. A 2-1 is equally likely, but it depends on whether or not Arsenal find the back of the net. In that case, Adebayor and Torres to also be on the scoresheet.