Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has heaped praise on Arsène Wenger ahead of the Champions League tie between Liverpool and Arsenal.

The two have enjoyed some enthralling battles since Benitez took the helm at Anfield, with Wenger mostly coming out on top. The Frenchman has won five of the nine meetings, to his counterpart's three.

However in Europe, Benitez holds the advantage. The Spaniard ended Wenger's Champions League hopes in 2000 while in charge at Valencia. Respect, though, between the pair remains clear.

"He is a fantastic manager,"said Benitez. "I think he has brought a lot of good things to Arsenal and to English football and you must respect him a lot.

"He knows what it takes to get to the final of the Champions League and he has experience in Europe. The players he has play with experience as well and I think it will be a good game."

But does his less favourable record against Wenger bother him?

"With Valencia?" Benitez joked. "You can always change statistics."

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2 Apr 2008