Rafa Benitez has earmarked Javier Mascherano as Liverpool's key player ahead of Wednesday¹s Champions League match at Emirates Stadium.

Much of the pre-match hype has focussed on the in-form pair of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. However it is the tenacious Argentine that Arsenal should be wary of, according to Benitez.

Mascherano recently signed a permanent deal with Liverpool but missed last weekend's Merseyside derby through suspension. His absence was palpable. The Red's struggled to assert their dominance through the middle, and, speaking yesterday, Benitez is clearly pleased to have him back.

"For us Javier is a key player," he said. "He was playing really well. When you play against a team that has plenty of possession it is important to have people that can work hard in midfield."

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 2 Apr 2008