Arsenal's job is only half complete
The job's only half complete, and Arsene Wenger knows it. Stuck in fifth place in the English Premier League, Arsenal's match on Wednesday at Highbury against Real Madrid could salvage the Gunners' season.india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 13:20 IST
The job's only half complete, and Arsene Wenger knows it.
Stuck in fifth place in the English Premier League, Arsenal's match on Wednesday at Highbury against Real Madrid could salvage the Gunners' season.
Arsenal lead 1-0 from the first leg in the Champions League's round of 16.
"One game is so fragile that, of course, we cannot concede that the job is done," Wenger said.
"But we want to finish the job." The Gunners have never won Europe's top club prize, and reaching the quarterfinals would match their run in 2001 and 2004. They were eliminated by Valencia in 2001 and Chelsea in 2004.
In Wednesday's other three games, defending champions Liverpool play at Anfield trailing Benfica 1-0, AC Milan host Bayern Munich after a 1-1 draw, and Lyon have a 1-0 advantage against visiting PSV Eindhoven.
Real Madrid have had a disappointing season.They trail Barcelona by 10 points in the Spanish league, haven't won a trophy in almost three years, and earlier this month club president Florentino Perez resigned, replaced a week ago by Fernando Martin.
"I'm convinced we'll win in London," Martin said. Wenger said he fears David Beckham— the England captain— as much as any Real Madrid player. If he's allowed to deliver crosses, he will.
"Beckham is a player that, if you give him time, he will feed others," Wenger said. "And when he feeds— he feeds well."
Defending champions Liverpool trail league-leading Chelsea by 17 points and, like Arsenal, the Champions League may be their best hope this season.
But making up a one-goal deficit at Benfica will be tough.
"There's no doubt we are a better team than we were last season when we won the European Cup," Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard said.
"So let's just say that we aren't about to give up our trophy easily."
Benficaare expected to be at full strength, though there are doubts over Greece midfielder Giorgios Karagounis, who twisted his left ankle in Saturday's 2-1 win at Amadora. The win kept the team in third place in the Portuguese league.
"It's going to be hard in Liverpool, but sometimes we play better against big-name teams," said Benfica coach Ronald Koeman, whose club ousted Manchester United this season from the Champions League.
"I want my team to play attractive soccer, whoever we're up against, but that doesn't mean we'll neglect defense."
AC Milan comes home after a 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich, giving the Italian team a narrow advantage.
Lyon hope to get even against PSV. A year ago, the Dutch side knocked out Lyon in the quarterfinals. This time, Lyon lead 1-0 and will be home to nurse the advantage.
PSV coach Guus Hiddink is trying to stay upbeat and will probably be without injured left back Michael Lamey.
"Lyon is so focused on reaching the final, and that comes in part from the frustration of last year," Hiddink said.
"They want to prove themselves among the elite of Europe, they want to earn respect by going far. It would be sensational if we could do it again."
Lyonare coming off a 3-1 victory over Ajaccio in the French league.
"It's good for our confidence," Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said. "We can now concentrate on PSV's arrival."
First Published: Mar 07, 2006 13:20 IST