Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger views the challenge of the next fortnight as the biggest of his career as he prepares to face Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals.
“It’s certainly the highest, because if you look at the next ten days that will define our season,” he said.
Arsenal play Liverpool three times in a week followed by a top of the table clash with Premier League leaders Manchester United.
“I strongly believe we are in the championship race,” Wenger continued. “On top of that, we play two Champions League games against Liverpool so the next ten days will be vital. The impact of the first game is always vital.”
Tonight, Arsenal will attempt to build on the momentum gained from Saturday’s extraordinary 3-2 victory at Bolton Wanderers – down to ten men, they recovered a two-goal deficit to win for the first time in seven domestic matches.
“We have the belief we can beat anybody and in any competition,” he said. “It’s true we had a little dip recently but our victory at Bolton did us a lot of good. It was very important that we got our confidence back and that our mental strength was rewarded.”
Of the team that overcame Bolton, Emmanuel Eboue is likely to come in for Abou Diaby, while Emmanuel Adebayor will start after coming off the bench on Saturday.
Liverpool also won in Milan to reach the quarter-finals and, having eliminated Internazionale, are hoping to defeat Arsenal away from home for the first time in eight years.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez insists “you can always change statistics”, as he looks to take his side to their third final in the space of four years.
“We have a lot of confidence. We have won a lot of games in a row. We are in a good moment and (Fernando)Torres can be a big difference,” Benítez said.
The return of Javier Mascherano from suspension strengthens Benitez’s options and the Argentinian is expected to slot into the holding role alongside Xavi Alonso.
Both managers know each other too well for there to be any surprises tonight.
“You know everything more or less about them, they know everything more or less about you,” Benítez said. Wenger concurred: “There is no real surprise. In this kind of game, it is down to the team who can grab the chance they create that makes the difference.”