Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Barcelona v Arsenal - match preview and line-up

Arsenal line-up:

Subs: Almunia, Squillaci, Eboue, Denilson, Arshavin, Bendtner, Chamakh

After a disappointing result on Saturday (albeit with the aid of some pretty crappy officiating by the referee and linesmen) it is important that Arsenal come back with a good performance against Barca tonight.

It wasn't so much the incorrect offside decision and the not-given penalty against Sunderland that annoyed me as they were both difficult decisions. It was all the other poor decisions that annoyed me most, like the one where Nasri was fouled and referee gave a free-kick to Sunderland and booked Samir, or the so-called 'foul throw'. The ref seemed to have a knack of giving poor decisions in Sunderland's favour at just the right time to break up our momentum. How much longer do we have to keep getting punished by referees for Fabregas allegedly calling one of them a chat? Anyway, I'm over it now, so let's move on. [Deep breath]

The big surprise is that Rosicky starts tonight instead of Arshavin. I guess a tough match (in more ways than one) against Sunderland.

It's great that Fabregas is back - it could be the difference between victory and defeat. It's a shame about Song though. However, I would take Diaby over Denilson as his replacement every time. I'm not one of these people who boos or slags off our own players and Denilson is a decent squad player but Diaby is just so much better than him in my opinion, if he's fully match sharp (which, unfortunately, he rarely seems to be). I'll be a lot more confident if I see his rather than Denilson's name announced on the team sheet. And for those who don't rate Diaby, remember how you used to criticise Song so vociferously? How about now?

The other big question mark over tonight's team was who would play up front, and it's brilliant news that van Persie will start. It will give everyone a big boost and, although both Chamakh and Bendtner are decent players, having RvP up front could make all the difference in a tough match like this.

I think that Arsene Wenger was right in saying that unless van Persie is at least 99.5% fit, he should not be risked. Even if we loose to Barcelona tonight we are still in the hunt for the Premier League and the FA Cup, so it's important that van Persie is able to take part in as many of those as possible. And even if we beat Barca we still have a few tough matches to win before we lift the Champions League trophy, so we shouldn't put all our eggs in one metaphorical trophy basket.

This is one of those big matches that can go either way and it's a fool who tries to predict the outcome, but we are in with a chance after winning the first leg at Ashburton Grove. What's important though is that we put in a good performance even if we are defeated, for the benefit of team morale and confidence. I'm concerned that if we loose this match heavily it might affect our whole season, though I'm not expecting that to happen.

On a final note, I would like to send this message to Barcelona: Barca DNA stands for Barcelona-Do-Not-Approach. So stop tapping up our captain. W***ers!

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