Wed, Aug 15, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Arsenal, Liverpool to face difficult away games today

AFP , PARIS

Liverpool and Arsenal face tricky away ties today as they bid to join Europe's top 16 clubs in the group phase of the Champions League.

Arsenal travel to Sparta Prague in the third qualifying round first leg in far from confident mood following their patchy 2-1 win over Fulham on Sunday.

And Liverpool face the task of traveling to a sweltering Toulouse to tackle a side that is on a high after beating French champions Lyon 1-0 on Saturday.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was relieved to win his first match of the season after complaining that his team was at a disadvantage in the title race because of Champions League commitments.

While they and Liverpool are in European action, Chelsea, who travel to Reading, and Manchester United, hosted by Portsmouth, will both be looking to pick up three Premiership points.

But even if both win, Arsenal cannot find themselves more than a single point behind the reigning champions on Thursday following United's draw against Reading at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Of more concern to Wenger is his goalkeeper's concentration after German Jens Lehmann gifted Fulham the lead in the first minute on Sunday, before late goals from Robin van Perise and Alexander Hleb saved his blushes.

Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said that he was delighted with the start Spanish forward Fernando Torres has made at Anfield and he could again partner his £26 million (US$52 million) signing with Dirk Kuyt in attack.

"I was happy with what Fernando did [in Sunday's 2-1 win over Aston Villa]. He worked very hard. Him and Kuyt were a problem for their defenders. That was the idea," Benitez said.

"The movement and understanding was good and he showed the touches and class that I would expect from him," he said.

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