It’s crunch time in the Champions League tonight as Liverpool meet Arsenal for the third time in a week, in the second leg of the European Cup Quarter-Final at Anfield. Having shared 1-1 draws in last Wednesday’s and Saturday’s encounters, it’s time to decide who will face the winner of Chelsea vs Fenerbache in the semi-final.
Andy Hunter of The Guardian hails tonight’s clash as the moment of truth for managers Rafael Benitez and Arsene Wenger. Both sides look out of the title race domestically, and now look to European honours to rescue their season.
In the face of boardroom troubles at Liverpool, Hunter writes of Benitez:
Delirium or despair awaits Anfield tonight but Rafael BenÃtez has insisted that his Liverpool reign cannot be judged on the Champions League quarter-final with Arsenal. In an appeal for reason from the club’s owners yesterday, the manager claimed that his long-term plan would reap further reward regardless of the outcome against ArsÃ¨ne Wenger’s team.
Whilst Hunter reports that Wenger is confident there’s a lot left in the Gunner’s season yet.
ArsÃ¨ne Wenger defiantly insisted last night that Arsenal‘s season is building to a glorious finale rather than unravelling. The Frenchman is confident that his side will not only secure the club’s first European Cup but will recover in the Premier League to claim the title.
If this is a Benitez vs Wenger clash, then the Daily Telegraph’s Don Howe sums it up quite nicely in this morning’s back pages’¦
The statistics would support the view that Benitez prefers the European stage to the domestic game and I would put that down to his vast experience of continental competition. He came through the coaching ranks at Real Madrid where he would have been exposed to the nuances of big European nights before making his mark in the Uefa Cup with Valencia and then tasting Champions League victory with Liverpool, a feat Wenger must be desperate to emulate.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm at Anfield and is live on ITV 1.
Meanwhile Peter Crouch has revealed that he will consider his options at the end of the season as to whether he will sign a new contract at Liverpool.
The Reds striker has fallen to third in the pecking order this season, behind Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt and has made only a handful of appearances since the New Year.
He said yesterday, “I’ll have to look at it at the end of the season. Now I’m concentrating on winning something.
“I’ve got to be realistic, if I want to have any aspirations of playing for England, or furthering my career, then I have to be playing.”