By Chris Harris

Liverpool have been Premier League also-rans for longer than they'd care to remember, but Europe? That's another matter.

The Merseysiders were winners in 2005, finalists in 2007 and have conquered some of the biggest names on the continent. Juventus, Milan, Inter and Barcelona have all succumbed to Rafa Benitez's tactical masterplans in recent years and even Chelsea - so dominant against the Reds in domestic football - have fallen foul of Liverpool in Europe. Arsenal have been warned.

As the hype intensifies ahead of the Quarter-Final first leg at Emirates Stadium, we asked Tony Barrett of the Liverpool Echo for a Liverpool perspective of the all-English tie.

Read on for his views on Liverpool's season so far, the instant impact of Fernando Torres, the other contender for player of the season, Benitez's success on the continent and why an away goal is more important than a clean sheet on Wednesday night.

"It is a case of 'what might have been'. Liverpool had a series of draws and when you look back at the season it's those draws that have cost them more than anything else. Liverpool have only lost four games all season - including the recent defeat at Manchester United - and if they had won just three or four of the games they had drawn, they would be involved in the title race. But they have fallen short again. They have made a step forward though. For several years there has been a running joke on Merseyside that Liverpool were always looking for the final piece of the jigsaw but I think this season it's just a bit of fine tuning needed because they have a strong spine and some top players. The addition of a bit more flair on the flanks is I think what they are looking for."

"The player of the season? Believe it or not it's very close. Fernando Torres has made all the headlines, he has been an absolutely wonderful signing for Liverpool. He has been a star from the first moment he pulled on a Liverpool shirt, but he's been run very close by Javier Mascherano, who will be involved on Wednesday night. Mascherano has been a breath of fresh air, his attitude has been exemplary. He obviously got it wrong when he was sent off at Manchester United, but his passion for the shirt and the team has been first class. It's between those two. If I had to choose it would be Torres but it's very close."

"I think everyone is surprised at how quickly Torres has settled in. I've spoken to people in Spain and they are surprised too, I don't think anyone expected him to come in and do anything like as well as he has in his first season. His goals tally is fantastic but his general performance level has been very high week-in, week-out. I thought he would take time but he hit the ground running and has never looked back.

"Ryan Babel has also got a lot of potential, you can see there is so much talent there. At Arsenal you're well aware that you see young players come in, they have talent but you don't see it on a regular basis at first. It does take a year, even Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry needed time. Babel is improving every week though and I think we'll see the best of him next season."

"Liverpool have an excellent record in Europe because that kind of football suits them. For me they lack a bit of pace in the Premier League, I think that is all-important in England, but it's a bit more sedate and more of a tactical battle in Europe. Benitez also has time to plan these games to the finer details and he revels in that. In the last couple of years Liverpool have won at the San Siro against Inter, they have won at the Nou Camp against Barcelona and it's a record they should rightly be proud of."

"An away goal is more important than a clean sheet - undoubtedly so. Arsenal are well capable of scoring at Anfield so Liverpool have to try and cancel that out by scoring at the Emirates. If Liverpool don't score it will be a very nervy night at Anfield next week. I'd rather they lost 2-1 than drew 0-0."

"Jermaine Pennant won't play, he's been omitted from the squad. Fabio Aurelio was missing at the weekend, he has a slight knock. Daniel Agger has been out since September, he's a big loss, he has had a metatarsal problem. They will be missing but apart from that it's pretty much a full squad so Benitez will have plenty of options on Wednesday night.

"I don't know if it will be that cautious. I think like in boxing, it's style which makes matches, and the reason Chelsea and Liverpool's semi-finals were so sterile and tight was because their styles were so similar. I think Liverpool and Arsenal are very different so I suspect we might get a more exciting game. I certainly hope so.

"I love watching Arsenal, I really do. Cesc Fabregas is world class, Adebayor has had a great season although he's run dry of late. You go right through the team, it oozes class and quality, they are a joy to watch. It's disappointing they've fallen away of late because for me they still play the best football in the Premier League. It's a shame they are not right on Man United's shoulders at this stage."

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
Chris Harris 1 Apr 2008