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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Arsenal vs. Liverpool

Emirates Stadium



On Sky

Arsenal V 'Pool Preview

Arsenal have worked hard and played well all season. We've sat atop of the Premiership tree for much of the current campaign, and have lost just one match in Europe this season. But Arsenal's season will be defined over the next few weeks as a trip to Old Trafford in the Premiership is preceeded by a trio of games against Liverpool in the Premiership and Champions League.

It would be terribly harsh on Arsenal if their season was to fall apart in the space of two short weeks. A Champions League exit and anything but six points from six against United and Liverpool would spell the end of any hopes of silverware this season.

Tonight's match will be anything but easy. Arsenal's form has been shocking to say the least, at least until that extraordinary comeback against Bolton on Saturday.

Liverpool's has been pretty good of late. Torres has been scoring plenty of goals. Gerrard too has found some form, while Babel's ionfluence seems to be growing with each game at the moment. One positive for Arsenal is that they fell apart in their last big game. A trip to Old Trafford is never easy, but Liverpool just didn't turn up. Torres did nothing, Gerrard was annonymous and Mascherano's school-boy behaviour saw him served with his marching orders.

As interesting as the battle on the pitch will be the clash of two fantastic footballing brains. Arsene Wenger is known the world over for his desire of attacking, flowing, expressive football. His teams are known for their technical and passing ability.

Rafa Benitez has made his name at Liverpool for different reasons. His teams are solid at the back, with a powerful striker who can get on the end of long balls.

Both teams have things to consider. Liverpool know that Arsenal will probably score in both legs. So do they go for it in the first leg? Or keep it tight and hope they score more than we do at Anfield? I think they'll take a caustious approach in the first leg, and just look to shut Arsenal out.

Arsenal also need to consider what's more important. To score or not conceed in the first leg? I think that Arsene will send his team out with the same instructions he normally does 'play with freedom, play with heart.'

One thing's for sure, it'll be an interesting game!

Vital Quotes:

Kolo Toure was the player presented to the press for the usual pre-game confrence. He was asked if Saturday had helped 'restore confidence and belief in the team?' His reply was simple: 'Definantly. I think it was a really tight game. We Started really bad, but we came back with 10 men and I think that is going to be really important for the rest of the season.

'I think it's going to be like a Premiership game. We're used to playing them and we know their players,'
he went on.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal will have Diaby, who's red card against Bolton does not count in Europe.

Three key players will be missing for Arsenal. Sagna, Rosicky and Eduardo are all injured.

I've just been sent the team too (thanks Tom).

Arsenal line-up: Almunia, Toure, Senderos, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue, Fabregas, Flamini, Hleb, Van Persie and Adebayor.

Player to watch: Van Persie

The Dutchman got the goal he needed on Saturday. That should give him the confidence to go on a good run. Hopefully starting tonight!

Liverpool Team News:

Liverpool have only Agger and Kewel missing for their trip to Arsenal. Not what we wanted to hear.

Player to watch: Torres

The lad has done better than anyone could have expected. He's scoring goals, making goals and generaly giving defences a hard time. He's got everything you could possibly want from a striker. Pace, power, a lethal finish, sharp passing and his movement is second to none.

Match Prediction:

I'm going to plump for a 1-1 draw. It'll be all Arsenal, but Liverpool will get a goal on the break, or from a corner. Torres and Van Persie to score.

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The Journalist

Writer: Nick Simmonett  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday April 2 2008

Time: 7:27PM

Your Comments

First one to post...YAY!!!...I really hope we set the momentum on now of winning...hey lads do ur thang today...see ya after the game...CROSS YOUR FINGERS GOONERS
Should be an interesting game. Caustious??
im redykulassly nervous...think im one of the few who prefers when we play the home game first
I'm nervous too but not as terrible as before we went to the San Siro. Don't mind if we play home or away first either.
Lou the Gunneress
reina could only watch
Lou the Gunneress
Adebayor, Adebayorororor, give him the ball, and he will score!!
Lou the Gunneress
ohh fudge
But I'm still pretty cautiously confident about this.
Lou the Gunneress
what a ******** surprise - every ******** game - do we ever ever learn? hammer them for 20 mins get too cocky and give the ball away cheaply and poorly and concede a sloppy goal - same old arsenal kiss goodbye to the champions league now
easy up D4NNYT its only the first half of the firstgame...adebayor has scord boosting his confidence, van persie looks half a yard off his best and we are clearly capable of dominating all ties..
I didn't see that part where Hleb's fouled. What happened there?
Lou the Gunneress
good defence by bendtner
his arm was pulled in the box by carragher last defender right infront of the ref
we should have won this *****
How many times does Hleb have to get fouled in the box to win one penalty?
Lou the Gunneress
#### ref!!!!!!
Oh Chelsea lost? Who said they got the lucky draw? (I did actually.)
Lou the Gunneress
the ref was so confident that he was right when he was definitely wrong.
the foul was by kuyt not carragher sorry but if ever there was a penalty this was it...maybe its coz the ref and kuyt are both dutch (the commentatorsdownunder floated this theory)
but nevermind we should get a goal there at anfield.and win this weekend.surely
Sh;t RvP got injured?!??!?!??!?! I thought that's a tactical or precautious change?!??!!
Lou the Gunneress
Liverpool fan here. I come in peace. :) We were lucky to get a draw today but it's a great result for us! Anyone know Bendtner's address so I can send him a letter of thanks? :)
the good news is we restricted them to 1 away goal,
Poor defensive error by arsenal to concede another goal. If it was a one-off, I can accept it lightly, but its been happening too ******** often for my liking. Clear penalty denied. Lucky ******** scousers. The favourites are clearly Liverpool with their away goal now.
I lost the connection and missed the 2nd half. Just saw some bits and pieces, looked like we were the better team, was that the case?
Lou the Gunneress
We should really have killed the game. I know we can score at Anfield. But so can they. Really hope RvP will come back soon.
Lou the Gunneress
We played Liverpool off the pitch in the second half. I predict Anfield will be the San Siro pt 2. For long stretches it looked like Liverpool was a relegation threatened team parking the bus in the box- they even pulled Kuyt back to play as a fifth defender. I'd be embarrassed to be a scouser.
same old arsenal plan A aint working. oops we dont have a plan B i can hear the fat lady clearing her throat!!!!!
no they can't.they just lucky to have the goal
what on earth was Bendtner doing there. Cesc's shot was going in the bottom corner. ***** man *****, and can liverpool win a game without the ref making such big mistakes in their favour..
I'm looking forward to playing Fenerbahce!
In defence of Bendtner, the flag was up and it wouldn't have counted anyway.
yeah i think even the ball was in the net the linesman still rule it out for offside. and even bendtner didn't touch the ball.boz the refs were all ####!!
I second Aamir request. Can you give our thanks to Bendtner? Arsenal played better, should've got a penalty. 1-1 is advantage to us, see you at Anfield next week, after the small matter of a league game at the Emirates that is. :-)
we will get the result and go through in the second leg i'm sure, cuz we dun deserve this. if only these refrees were a little more competent and been doing their job properly, we wud be less than 6 points behind united in the league and going to Anfield with a win. still all to play for and if we play in the away leg just how we have played tonight, we will go through..
yeah i take tonight's result positively.we sure as hell beat em this weekend
atleast our situation is better than that of Chelsea. and my only concern at this moment is RVP's fitness. hope he recovers in time for the second leg, cuz we need him there..
So it's another draw when we play well. It sets the tone well for the next league game then. Hope the Part III if this "greatest trilogy since the Godfather" (Sky's words) will be a San Siro Part II. Hey if you've got ATV or ATVO, you can watch the post-match show, just started now.
Lou the Gunneress
and we will surely get more space to play our football at Anfield, cuz pool will have to come out and have a go at us. that will give us a lot more space to play our game and pass the ball around. however i want to see Eboue play at RB, cuz he gives us absolutely nothing when he is on the right wing..
those scousers will rest ppl for the league game now. Arsene should really take a gamble and rest a few lads. bring in Gilberto and Diaby in for Cesc and Matty, and give Djourou and Hoyte a game. we really have to utilise our squad now..
Only watched the 1st half, I thought Kolo did a lot better in RB than in the last game. The ATV people are now saying Cesc was outstanding in the 2nd? They're also now discussing whether Eboue should play in RB.
Lou the Gunneress
Luckys I know where you're coming from. But if he does that, he'd be like sending a message that we're giving up on the league now. And to be honest I'm not sure how much room we have to rotate. Not in the midfield (Diaby's out, Rosicky's out, where's Denilson?), not up front (only got Ade, Bendtner and Theo now), not at the back (Hoyte didn't impress in the last reserve game, Djourou better but he didn't look close to the first team yet; and it's a big gamble to make further changes at the back). I know the players could have some rest but it's a really tough call.
Lou the Gunneress
well I just got home and my voice is hoarse, I'm feeling exhausted after all the tension. Geezus. This defense is a joke. We seriously miss Sagna. Kolo didn't play in Milan, he's now become a huge liability to us. Where the hell is his head?! Fantastic to see Ade break his drought and I thought "ok, we won't lose because we never do when he starts." But that pool goal was unbelievably stupid. I couldn't believe what I was seeing it was so stupid. And I've had it with RVP. I genuinely love the player but he and Rosicky have to go. They're paid to be injured. Bendtner's dum mistake wasn't decisive as the linesman had called it offside anyway. I won't even go into the penalty-that-should've-been because the censors on this board couldn't handle it. And again we outplay a mediocre team but can't win. Sorry, scousers, I have no ill feelings toward your club but that team today did not impress. We didn't look like champions but neither did you. Nice to see the chavs lose, tho. We can definitely score at Anfield, that's not the issue. The question is WILL OUR DEFENSE FINALLY SHOW UP?!
Jaelle, that "when Ade scores we never lose" thing was broken earlier this season at you-know-where..
Lou the Gunneress
no, Lou, I said we never lose when Ade STARTS -- Ade didn't start in the CC semifinal.
Haha yeah that record's still intact. Where's everyone else? Off to Vital Chelsea? :/
Lou the Gunneress
unlucky gooners 2day you looked good when you took off that cheat eboue, i still fancy u in the 2nd leg.
jaelle, Didn't Arsenal lose at Middlesbrough when Ade started? and at Chelsea?
JohnDoe, she meant when Ade starts and scores, we never lose. Not even once. We only lost once when he scored, but the game was lost long before he came on as a sub. So the unbeaten record of him starting and scoring is still intact. :)
Lou the Gunneress
JohnDoe, the record I'm talking about is this: Arsenal don't lose when Ade scores AND starts. Ade didn't score at Boro and Chelsea. Before the CC semifinal debacle v. Spurs, Arsenal never lost when he scored, period. That record still holds true in the league, btw. Ade scored in the CC semifinal but he he came on late in the game.
Putting aside all the negatives, there WERE some positives, fellow gooners: Gallas controlled Torres quite well, didn't he? Clichy, Theo, Sendy were fantastic.
If we hadn't lost RvP to injury, I'd feel very confident about the 2nd leg...
Lou the Gunneress
Ok. I get it.
Oh well there's always next year jaelle. Great save by Bendter by the way. Think he was trying to copy Ronaldho's back heel but it didn't go quite to plan. See, Key stone cops.LOL
I thought Senderos looked good. Had dodgy connection but Kolo looked better than vs Bolton in RB in the 1st half. What do you guys think about him in RB? The ATV show's got quite a few calls for replacing Eboue with Theo, while they don't say much about Kolo at RB.
Lou the Gunneress
We're in it THIS year. We can do a job at Anfield. Not that we haven't done it before. Just that RvP's out and Torres is bound to be more dangerous back at home. We can score there, no problem. Another open game I imagine.
Lou the Gunneress
We need to sort out our defence, if we are to stand a chance at Anfield.
Prits, were we defensively better tonight than at the Reebok? Were Theo and Bendtner better? I'm so gutted that I lost the 2nd half. And another mistake I made - I forgot to eat my lucky snacks, that's how I lost the plot lol
Lou the Gunneress
To be honest we were were lucky today, and now we are in better position that the Gunners! That is the football - very unpredictable game
Damn you and your lucky snacks Lou :p. Defensively, we were better tonight, but thats hardly consolation for letting in an away goal. Based on current form, we're likely to let in a goal at any time. We had shown significant improvement in our defensive performances till February this year, but Wenger & Gallas need to sort out our defence, and quickly. This is not a period where we can afford to concede goals in this manner.
Should have had a penalty.
Also what was Bendtner doing. Aaarrrggghhh
I personally think we're still in a pretty good position despite giving away an away goal. Liverpool wanted to score today especially when they knew we're capable of scoring at Anfield too. If the league game in between goes well (that is 3 points to us and no injuries - touch a big piece of wood!) we can go there and do a Milan II. I'm cautiously optimistic (and will set an alarm to remind myself of the lucky snacks..)
Lou the Gunneress
4-5-1 (4-3-3 attacking). I've been saying it for a few months now. Regardless of whether we are home or away, it's our powerhouse formation, until, and I hate to say this, until our defence (minus Gallas) matures enough to cut out the silly errors (not talking about today, I mean in general). I think with 4-5-1, which Wenger will almost certainly play in the 2nd leg, we will be more solid at the back than we were tonight, and there is no way that we won't score at Anfield. Whether we will score more than Liverpool remains to be seen and if referees performances in the last 5 weeks are anything to go by, then we are damned no matter what we do, but hell, if we can beat the likes of AC Milan away, then we should not fear Liverpool. Walcott was f-ing ace tonight, Eboue (who I happen to love) was very poor! It's a case of Heart v's Head for me between Eboue and Walcott, but at the moment, head (Walcott) wins. It's time to give him the chance he deserves, but I'm still totally convinced that Eboue, will at some point in the next few weeks, do something that will make us sing his praises!!! Just a feeling but a pretty strong one! As a whole though, I'm pretty chilled with tonights 1-1. We're the Arse, we always do things the hard way, it's the norm!
Post-match reactions (don't miss Avram Grant's, he keeps repeating 'this is football' but can't explain the defeat, while Michael Ballack sounds like he knows what went wrong):,20285,12606_3377954,00.html
Lou the Gunneress
I dont want to sound to bitter but. A wrong penalty against Birmingham, A Dissalowed Goal against Middlesboro, Chelseas Goal being offside and now no penalty for Hleb. How many games do we have to be robbed of
I don't know what we have to do to get a fair call from the refs these days. That was a stone-wall penalty. If we can't get this one in clear view of the ref then i despair...I know they say these errors even out but i don't see it happening. Anyway at least we know what we need to do at Anfield: attack and score just like at the San Siro. Pool will play for a 0-0 that's for sure but that may be even harder mentally.
Liverpool know we can score at Anfield so they'll come out to get a goal too. Also depends how the league game goes, where they might rest a couple of key players, having put a 5-point gap between themselves and Everton.
Lou the Gunneress
Gael-force, we won't be playing for a 0-0 draw. Never at Anfield, in the CL, have we played for a draw.
at least we have the second leg to make amends,we are only one goal down.
fran merida
aimar, in the league game at anfield you scored and just sat back all game, we had like 67% possession. You done the same thing last night, u sure with an away goal, benitez wont do the same thing? I like liverpool, but its a bit poor for big teams in big comps to be sitting back, having only 35% possession, relying on the ref and bendtner to save you.
We'll score at anfield anyway, as long as the ref is friends with another liverpool player.
Know what u mean paul, so many games robbed lately
*isn't friends
Lou, we have to take the gamble now. if these squad players are n ot good enough to beat pool at home, then they are not good enough to be at Arsenal. and i really think we can beat them in the league even with our CC squad. all their thoughts will be on the second leg. we could go with Hoyte, Traore, Senderos and Djourou at the back. Eboue Gilberto, Denilson and Walcott in the midfield, and Bendtner and Hleb upfront. this team is good enough to beat them. Cesc, Ade and Clichy need a breather before the second leg..
and Wenger has said Van Persie may not make the second leg. damn, that is real bad news. we need him back for the United game..
I think people are being a bit too down on Liverpool, they came with a gameplan and executed it very well. Once they had the away goal they had no need to do anything other than be compact and try and hit us on the break, which is what they did. For all of our intent and possession, we seldom broke them down, Liverpool are a very solid team. I felt a bit for Bendtner, you could see him trying to get out of the way but he just couldn't. No doubt this is a better result for Liverpool than it is for us, but I'm still pretty confident. I'd back Arsenal to score on any ground and against any team in world football, so I think we can pull the away goal back. Ostensibly, this makes the second leg a one off game as far as we are concerned, we have to just treat it like a league game, play our game, don't panic and try and win the game- precisely what we would do in the Premiership. My big grumble is that when we scored, that is when we should have tightened up and been at our most compact, the ten minutes following that goal should have been all about not conceding, that's how it is in Europe. Instead, it's when we were at our most open and vulnerable and that was down to a lack of maturity. My other two thoughts are that Kolo needs a breather, Gallas had to (and did) cover for him at right back so many times with Toure unable to get back. I also stand by my assertion that Jens needs to come back in, Almunia doesn't look assured enough at the moment, he's too hesitant and not decisive enough. I think we need more experience back there and another commanding presence to aid Gallas, Jens is that man. Match report won't be on until this evening, my lunch break has just gone down the crapper.
Little Dutch
I would put down Bendtner's "interception" as pure clumsiness. TV replay showed he was genuinely sorry. But given the way decisions are going against us, the "goal" would likely be ruled out for offside even if Bendtner managed to avoid any contact. The officials and the ever subjective media would say he had interfered play. I watched the match on cable thousands of mile away from Emirates. From the 28th min till the 50th min, is it just me, but the whole stadium seemed to go eerily silent? Where were the chants and cheers prior and immediately after our goal? Can someone who were at Emirates help to clarify if this was just an illusion because I'm watching TV? I would imagine it is very important for gooners at Emirates to be the 12th man and cheer the team on as they recovered from conceding the equaliser. Somehow i also feel 1-1 may not be that bad as a result. If we take a 2-1 lead to Anfield and we might subconsciously think that we can hold for a draw and that would impact our gameplan. I don't see us capable of keeping cleansheet so I would rather we go in with our normal formation and mentality and I see us having more chance to get at least an away goal ourselves to level things up as oppose to keeping a cleansheet. Lastly, I second LD's suggestion to bring on Jens, I think we miss his distribution ability (turning defence into counterattack with his throw). Almunia's distribution last night nearly cost us to concede more at least a couple of occassions.
i actually think you will come out on tops next week and i also reckon we will go out, this is no wind up, 1-0 to you, it should be well in within you capabillities, if chelsea go out we might get a half decent manager!!
ian7, I'm basing my comment on the fact that we beat Barca 2-1 at the Nou Camp and then when they came to Anfield, we battered them. We lost 1-0 in the end but we could have won by 3 or 4.
Cant really see the away goal being an issue,i mean nobody will really expect a 0-0 draw at Anfield so its still game on and all to play for.Good luck.Well,average luck really but it isgood to watch!
Arsene will not bring back Jens because Jens has no long term future at the club. and secondly, we will lose Lehmann in the summer, and that is why we cannot afford to lose another experienced keeper at the same time. that will leave us really short in that department. and that is why for the long term future, Wenger is ready to sacrifice the present..
if yu throw Almunia out of the team now, there is no way yu can convince him that he is good enough to be our number one next season, and after so many years, i dun think he will settle for being number two next season and fight it out with who ever Wenger brings in next season..
my only worry for the second leg is that we will be missing so many key players. No Van Persie, no Sagna, no Eduardo and no Rosicky. you remove four players of the same magnitude from the pool team and they would struggle to even get a goal. everything is against us at the moment. i just hope that somehow we can get RVP fit for the second leg, and if not, then just get through to the semis and have Rosicky, RVP and Sagna available for the semis..
Can anybody tell me how many penalties and goals have we been robbed of. Our opponents get all the luck sometimes, when is it our turn. Heck, even the goal which Middlesboro scored against us started from a wrongly given free kick... screw the refs, on Saturday, Ivan Campo could scream in the ref's face and get away with it, Toure starts to talk to the ref and gets booked!!! It's **** ridiculous!!! I'd rather have Poll or Collina back here, at least they don't give ridiculous calls and dismiss stone-wall penalties!!!
ian7, We didn't sit back after we scored our goal at Anfield. Almunia made several saves from Gerrard, Crouch, and Alonso. We were pushed back, not sat back, after Alonso was subbed due to injury early in the second half.
luckys_10, We had three players missing yesterday, Agger, Kewell, and Finnan, yet we scored. Injuries are a part of the game, a club as big as Arsenal should be able to deal with it.
John Doe except Finan, the other two have hardly played for you this season, and Kewell and Agger have been injured for most of their Liverpool careers, so you can't compare them with our players who are out. and then im not making an excuse, i'm just pointing out that the odds are all stacked up against us. the injuries plus the refree are all against us..
i luv bendtner. wat a keeper
Stevie Mc
I dont really think the away goal is that bad at 1-1. If they had won 1-0 then its a lot worse as if they score once at anfield then we'd need 3. we'll never be in that sort of scenario up there. the worst results are when you lose 1-0 1st at home OR draw 0-0 1st away. so this result is fine with me. we'll score 2, they'll need 3.
aimar n john doe, thats your view, my view is u sat back both games, possession of 65%+ says it all. But each to his own, if you get the results then its all good no matter how you play. Im just not a fan of negative football, especially from major teams in major competitions. only my opinion.
that game is gonna be so exciting next week, cant wait.
Nothing to despair about. These lads have always answered the critics when in difficulty this season. I am happy abt the result as it would bring out the best of the lads. They seem to play better when the odds are against them. Chin up guys!

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