Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Arsenal vs Liverpool, Champs League

Champions League football is back again. Although, the almost month long wait feels like an eternity. That is because days after the joyous March 4 away win to Milan, things have not gone as per a happy script for Arsenal. Dropped points in the league before a loss to London rivals Chelsea threw Arsenal's title hopes into a spin. Things appeared to get more grim after 45 rain soaked minutes away to Bolton; the rain appeared to be drowning Arsenals' promising season down the drain. Yet amazingly this young team took a page out of previous Wenger and even George Graham teams in able to turn a game around when there was absolutely no sign of hope. 3 second half goals, including a snooker like winning goal ensured that there is still some life in this young Arsenal team.

Liverpool come into this game on the back of an impressive 5 game winning Champs league streak. After a poor start where they only picked up 1 point from their opening 3 games, Liverpool turned things around when staring group elimination in the face by going on an amazing run of 8-0 (Besiktas), 4-1 (Porto) and 4-0 wins (away to Marseille) before their 2-0 home and 1-0 away win to Inter. Arsenal on the other hand started the Champs League group stages in the impressive manner as their league campaign -- stylish wins and a handful of goals. Arsenal were impressive in taking care of a Juande Ramos Sevilla side 2-0 and followed that with a 1-0 away win to Steaua before turning it on against the new comers Slavia 7-0. With qualification in sight, Arsenal let their foot off the pedal and only managed a 0-0 away tie to Slavia and a poor 3-1 away loss to Sevilla cost them top spot in the group before their final 2-1 win over Steaua. However, top spot meant nothing as Arsenal outplayed and completely dominated the defending Champs Milan to reach the Quarter Finals. Liverpool also dominated their Milan opponents, although one can argue they only had to do it against 10 men in both legs.

Arsenal and Liverpool will get an intimate look at each other over the next week and their 3 meetings will go a long way towards deciding the future of both teams as well. Which team will be left fighting for silver-ware and what will each team's league standing be after all is said and done? The questions should start answering themselves starting Wed, April 2.

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