Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Arsenal v Barcelona - No Micky (Mouse) Silvestre to mess it up this time

Cesc Fabregas (Courtesy RobTM)

So today's the big day - according to the media anyway. It is certainly a pivotal moment in Arsenal's season.

A lot has been made of the fact that Arsenal gave themselves a difficult tie in this round by finishing second in the group stage. But the way I see it drawing Barcelona at this relatively early stage in the Champions League is the best news we could have hoped for. If we beat Barca, we will have got the most difficult match out of the way and it should give us a huge, much needed confidence boost. On the other hand, if we get knocked out, we will have less matches to play in the run-in and thus better chances of winning the remaining competitions: the League, FA Cup and the League Cup.

If we wish to progress, it is important that we win tonight, preferably without conceding. Not only are Barca the best team in the world right now (Arsene Wenger has admitted as much), but they will inevitably fall over at the slightest invitation and roll around like they've been hit by a sniper (and the ref will fall for it), just like they did last year (not that I'm bitter).

Arsenal will be much stronger than when we played Barcelona last year. What most of the media seem to have forgotten (or chosen to forget) is that, despite get hammered for the first 30 minutes at Ashburton Grove, we went to the Nou Camp 2-2 and put up a good fight in the first half despite having what were arguably our five best players at the time (Cesc, Gallas, RvP, Arshavin and Song) all missing and playing Micky (Mouse) Silvestre at centre back.

If you took Barca's five best players out, how would they fair? This time, we only have Vermaelen and Sagna missing for the first leg and Barca are missing Puyol, so we should see a much closer match this time. However, anything can happen in a cup competition, so we'll see.

Dirty Barcelona have repeated the same pre-match tactic that they used last year in trying to unsettle Fabregas, saying it would be 'justice' if he returned to Arsenal after we stole him from them. However, Arsene Wenger has hit back, saying:
"It's part of the game. Where do they get their players? Where does Messi come from? Barcelona? At what age did they take him? Twelve years old. There's no reason for any bitterness because we did nothing illegal."

"We did not force a gun somewhere", he added, "We respected the rules. They could come and take our players, we accept that. They take their players from all over the world. Don't expect them only to get players from Catalonia."
So overall, what are our chances? Personally, I would probably make Barca favourites with 60% chance of winning over the two legs. If we were playing the away leg first, I would rate our chances much better.

Predicted line-ups

Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy
              Song, Wilshere
      Walcott, Fabregas, Nasri
                 Van Persie

Alves, Pique, Abidal, Maxwell
          Busquets, Xavi
       Messi, Iniesta, Pedro

Share via Social Network


No comments:

Post a Comment