Friday, March 14, 2008

Champions League Draw: Arsenal Draw Liverpool

Arsenal failed to avoid Premier League opposition by drawing last year's finalists Liverpool in the Champions League Quarterfinal Draw. The mouthwatering all-English tie is the most competitive of the quarterfinals.

The draw means that Arsenal face a tough three weeks, their next six fixtures looking particularly daunting. In addition to facing Liverpool three times in one week, Arsenal will face off against Chelsea and Manchester United in the next three weeks. The Gunners next six games look like this: at Chelsea, at Bolton, Liverpool, Liverpool, at Liverpool, at Manchester United.

Even with the returns of Kolo Toure and Robin van Persie, Arsenal will have a tough time keeping their squad fit during such an important series of games, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may even resort to rotating some of his key players.

Nonetheless, Wenger believes that his team have what it takes to knock Liverpool out of the Champions League, citing the fact that they have already knocked out holders AC Milan.

"Let's give our best," said the manager, "We showed against Milan that when we are at our best we can beat anyone. We just knocked Milan out, who were the holders. That was a big hurdle.

"Now we have the finalists on our route - so why can't we do it again?"

Arsenal fans will be happy to have avoided Premier League title rivals Manchester United and Chelsea, but disappointed not to have drawn foreign opposition. The Gunners are likely to face Chelsea in the next round, as the Blues drew Fenerbahce in the same half of the draw as Arsenal. If Manchester United can beat Roma and the winners of Barcelona and Schalke 04, Arsenal may play English teams for the remaining rounds of the competition.

The full quarterfinal draw:
AS Roma vs. Manchester United
Schalke 04 vs. Barcelona
Arsenal vs. Liverpool
Fenerbahce vs. Chelsea

Roma/Manchester United vs. Schalke/Barcelona
Arsenal/Liverpool vs. Fenerbahce/Chelsea