Luck of the draw

Image: Gerrard & Torres: potential matchwinners

Phil Thompson says home advantage in the second leg has put Liverpool in the box-seat against Arsenal.

It goes without saying that Arsenal and Liverpool would rather be playing an overseas team in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. But if you have to play against another Premier League team then the next best thing is to have the second leg at home. Liverpool have the return leg at Anfield - and that is why I think they are in the box-seat to overcome Arsenal over two legs. Liverpool have been on a very good run, winning eight out of nine games, and they will be looking to push on for the rest of the season, especially with their important players playing so well at the moment. Arsenal have been having a bit of a dodgy spell; in fact their results are reminiscent of Liverpool of a couple of months ago. However, they ended their blip with a fantastic victory against Bolton at the Reebok on Saturday when they came back from 2-0 down with 10 men. So I would say these two teams go into this match level pegging in terms of confidence. It's all set up for a fascinating game and also a fascinating two legs because the Champions League is probably the priority for Rafa Benitez and Arsene Wenger now. Liverpool have still got a bit of work to do to finish fourth. They are five points ahead of Everton with six games left, but I think they are playing well enough to finish fourth and also to compete to win the Champions League. Arsenal will still believe they have a chance of finishing the season as champions, but I don't believe they will. For me, Manchester United are going to win the title and the Champions League is the trophy that these two teams are both vying for.

Flat out

They've both got to go flat out and I'd advise both managers to go with their best team in every game between now and the end of the season. Arsenal and Liverpool play each in a Premier League match at the weekend, but if either manager tinkers with his team and comes unstuck, they risk losing confidence going into the second Champions League match. It's a quirk of football that Arsenal and Liverpool have to play each other three times in a week, but neither side can afford to lose the psychological battle at any stage. Often when this situation occurs, you see one team winning the cup game and the other team winning the league game, but it will be very interesting to see how this one stacks up because both teams want to win all of the matches. I think it has got the makings of a fascinating battle and it will be won and lost in the midfield. The two teams will line up with similar formations with five players in the midfield area behind a lone striker. But there are slight permutations. Liverpool will play with two holding midfielders and three more advanced players supporting Fernando Torres. Arsenal will play more of 4-1-4-1 with Mathieu Flamini as an anchor protecting the back four. There's no doubt the game will be won in that area of the pitch. The advanced players in the team - Steven Gerrard and Cesc Fabregas - will probably end up being the match-winners. Arsenal know they need a lead of some sort to give them any hope at Anfield and a 1-0 win would be alright for them I don't think Liverpool would be too disappointed with a 1-0 defeat because traditionally they are quite awesome in the second leg of European games. I'd like to say Liverpool can go and get a 2-0 win at the Emirates, but looking at it realistically I think a draw would be ideal and I would then expect them to finish the tie off at Anfield.

Thommo's call

DRAW - It will be tight and I think it will be a 1-1 draw. That would put Liverpool in the driving seat with the second leg at home.

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