It's up for grabs now…

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Tonight is the 200th meeting between Arsenal and Liverpool and for me this is the most important meeting I can remember. I know that perhaps the most famous meeting (for the old school Arsenal supporters) was back in 1989 when Arsenal won the league at Anfield. “Thomas charging through the midfield, Thomas… it’s up for grabs noooooow!” If you didn’t become a red level member (shame on you) and didn’t get the little bottle opener with the really crappy audio clip of that famous moment at Anfield you can download it from Arseweb by clicking on the link above. Then you can use it as a ringtone on your cellphone or something! That would be epic, dude.

Even though that’s 20 years ago (nearly) and the match today is going to be a radically different affair, this one match could easily make or break Arsenal’s season. Just as that match did on that day in 1989.  So, you old timers will have to forgive us newer fans if we show our enthusiasm over a simple Champions League tie.

Frankly, I’m as excited as a school girl on the day she gets her braces off.

For those of you who are unable to watch the match, the live feed from BBC is right here.  You’d have to be living in a cave or stuck at work, though, to not see this match live.  It’s on ESPN2 at 11:30am PST, so every bar in America could show you the match if you like.

As for lineups, Wenger has tipped his hand a bit and may actually start Theo in this first leg saying

I’ll use him sometimes with him coming on. Other times I’ll start with him. I will see. The first game [against Liverpool] will decide a lot.

Cryptic comment, I know, but it sounds to me like he’s going to start Theo today and decide what his role will be based on this performance.

You should also expect Adebayor to return today and if he’s on his A game, he should be a real handful for the Liverpool defense.  Of course, speaking of handfuls, Liverpool will also be playing a 4-5-1 (yes I said also) with Torres up front terrorizing Gallas and company at the back.  Today would be the perfect day for the squad to get back to keeping some clean sheets.  We all know that they are susceptible to the long ball.  We all know that Torres is great at running onto the long ball.  Since we all know what’s going to happen, maybe Arsenal worked on it in practice?  We shall see.

The midfield battle between Gerrard and Cesc and Mascherano and Flamini should be equally as captivating.  While Mascherano has been hailed by the British press as the new Roy Keane, or a “destroyer,” or a dozen other adjectives, Flamini has toiled in relative obscurity.  Just as he did last year.  Just as he did the year before.  And before that…

So, I’m curious to see how Flamini handles Gerrard and how Mascherano handles Cesc. It could be an epic midfield battle.

As was mentioned on Arseblog, Arsenal really only need to get one win from these three matches — a 0-0 draw today, a win at Emirates in the league, and a 1-1 draw at Anfield will get them maximum points and see them through to the next stage.   But I think the fans are pulling for a famous win today.  Highly unlikely as both Benitez and Wenger will be playing very cautiously, aware that both teams only need to win one game to collect maximum points.

Wherever you are, enjoy the match and UP THE ARSE!