Second legs of the quarter finals Tuesday and Wednesday to see if the Premiership sends three contenders to the semis. Some of last week’s game were real shockers and some were more boring than any we’ve seen in recent memory. Some managers, and not just Benitez or Grant, will have to save their seats tonight by winning no matter what.
Let’s call this Episode III. After two matches at Arsenal’s stomping ground of the Emirates Stadium both ending in a 1-1 draw, Anfield will offer a nice epilogue to this whole affair. After last week’s spectacular game tainted by partisan refereeing in Liverpool’s favor (even though we were in London), Arsenal will have to come out with guns blazing since they conceded the home goal that could cost them the qualification. Liverpool are unsurprisingly favorites after going through the same situation in 2005 against Chelsea. Rafael Benitez will need all of Anfield to be with him on this one as The gunners have no other choice but to win and are not really efficient at defending anyway. The only differences with this weekend’s game is that Steven Gerrard will surely be starting alongside Fernando Torres. As for El NiÃ±o’s right partner, Benitez can always choose between Dirk Kuyt who scored the equalizer last week or Peter Crouch who did the same this weekend.
My bill is still on Arsenal but Liverpool have been monstruous at this stage of the compettion in the last five years. A match to watch for sure.
The Award for Newcomer of the Year sure goes to FenerbahÃ§e. Ok Schalke could deserve it but the Turkish side has been unbeatable at home and lived up to their expectations away. Counting Roberto Carlos, Mateja Kezman and London-born Turkish international Kazim Kazim who singlehandedly put Chelsea on their knees during last week’s bout’s second-half. Zico’s boys don’t fear anyone and don’t have any reason to.
Chelsea is still miles above them on paper but Avram Grant’s players know well that this could be their last game in the competition. They were lucky enough to have scored an away goal but that’s it. They were far from their normal level and underestimated their teammates. Add that to the fact that Petr Cech is still not recovered and this is smelling like one of those surprises that is supposed to happen every year. If FenerbahÃ§e go through, after having eliminated Sevilla and Chelsea, we couldn’t call them an underdog anymore.
Tommorow, Manchester United and Barcelona, two teams that have won away games will be welcoming teams that could take them out as well. None of those superpowers (well truthfully Barcelona seems more safe than Manchester, even after their game against Getafe this Sunday) can afford to play with a B team tomorrow.