Arsenal set for Liverpool challenge
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger is confident ahead of a difficult run ahead.
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2008 14:34 GMT

Arsene Wenger says the next 10 days will define Arsenal's season [GALLO/GETTY]

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager, has labelled his side's Champions League quarter-final clash with Liverpool as the start of the most challenging period he has faced in nearly 12 years at the helm of the north London club.
In the space of 11 days, Arsenal will player Liverpool three times - the home and away legs of the European tie either side of a league meeting - and then take on Premier League leaders Manchester United at Old Trafford on April 13.
The Gunners' season could effectively be over by the end of that sequence, or they could be closing in on a Premier League/Champions League double that would represent the biggest achievement of Wenger's career.

"It will be the highest challenge of my career," the Frenchman said.

"The next 10 days will define our season because I strongly believe that we are in the championship race.

"This next period is vital and the impact of the first game of that sequence is also vital... "

Arsene Wenger
"This next period is vital and the impact of the first game of that sequence is also vital because it will set the tone for the rest."

Wenger has seen his side slip from the top of the league to third, six points behind Manchester United, as a result of a disappointing run of four draws and one defeat that was finally ended at the weekend, when a ten-man Arsenal side came from 0-2 down to beat Bolton 3-2.

Wenger has been keen to promote the comeback as a psychological platform for a similar turnaround in his side's season.

"We have the belief that we can beat anybody in any competition," he said.

"If it is Liverpool or anyone else we want to get that into the game."

Staying on the train

"It is true we had a little dip recently but our victory at Bolton did us a lot of good because when you continue to play well but not win your confidence suffers," Wenger added.

"That was very important that we got our confidence back but also that our mental strength is rewarded because that is what we needed in the game against Bolton.

Wenger is expecting a cautious encounter on Wednesday "for the simple reason that there is a knockout situation."

"We are on the train and we want to stay on it. One of us to go out but Liverpoool certainly will make it tight and play on the break more than in the championship, where you can concede a goal and still continue.

"Every goal is so vital in the knockout stage that the focus is naturally a bit higher, the intensity is also naturally a bit higher."

Wenger also acknowledged that the fact the match is being refereed by a Dutch rather than an English official could affect the pattern of the contest.

"They are a bit more interventionist on the continent than here so the fluency of the British game could go, but I don't mind," the manager said.

"Before a game it is never important for me who is the referee. You just focus and prepare well and get your team to play the game you want to play."

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