Liverpool-Arsenal: A Season-Defining Moment on the Road to the Champions League

Justin BaskinCorrespondent IApril 3, 2008

The stage is set and Liverpool have secured an away goal going into the second leg of the Champions League Quarter Final. 

In an enthralling game, Arsenal put up a magnificent show. Fortunately for Liverpool they couldn’t find a winner. 

I know during the game there was a clear penalty which was not given, and in my opinion the ref should receive a ban as he was in a perfect position to give it. Also, they had a goal stopped on the line by their own player. 

But I do not believe they can use that as an excuse for not winning. They had so much possession and so many opportunities that they only have themselves to blame. 

When Arsenal travel to Anfield, they are not only going to be facing a pumped up Liverpool team, they are going to be facing a pumped up crowd. And this will definitely be a factor in the second leg. 

Liverpool’s strategy in the first leg was to get an away goal and defend it—and that’s what they did. At Anfield, it will be a different story (I hope).

Benitez is a master Champions League tactician with an excellent European record, and I am sure Liverpool will be more aggressive, as they will have to be.

I am not a fan of Arsene Wenger. I don’t like the way he moans after every game in which his team doesn’t perform.  Earlier in the season he made a statement that he now must prove. 

He stated that “Traveling to Goodison is more daunting than traveling to Anfield,” and I hope Liverpool prove him wrong. 

On Saturday when they face each other I think it will be interesting. Since both teams will have one eye on the second leg they will not have their best teams on the field, which could make for a good game.

With so many draws in the last six matches Arsenal have virtually taken themselves out of the Premier League race. After beating Everton last week, Liverpool have secured fourth spot for this week.

So both teams can afford a loss as both teams really only have the Champions League to worry about. Don’t be misled by Arsenal's claims. They can still win the Premier League—they can and they know it. Their statements are simply mind games. 

Liverpool’s season will be defined by how they do in the Champions League, and Benitez feels that if he doesn’t win there he will be out of a job.

The Premiership game should be an open game with opportunities on both sides. I expect Arsenal to be the better side on that day, but I feel the game will end in another draw.   

So in conclusion, Liverpool vs. Arsenal at Anfield will be a game to define both teams' seasons, a game in which losing is not an option. 

Arsenal will have to try and beat Liverpool within the scheduled time because if the game goes to penalties we all know what will happen. Liverpool will save more penalties than Arsenal. 

But as a purist I want to see the game over in 90 minutes with a Liverpool victory.