Tonight, Arsenal take on Barcelona at The Emirates Stadium hoping to follow in the footsteps of their North London rivals Spurs who managed to beat AC Milan 1-0 at the San Siro last night. Arsenal fans will be hoping that they too can get a result against the Spanish Champions. Wenger’s team have yet to beat the men from Catalonia, in 5 meetings between the two clubs. But tonight could just be the night they do it! Here’s 5 reasons why:
They’ve played them before – Barcelona Vs Arsenal has almost become a regular fixture of the footballing calendar. The two met in the 2006 Champions League Final, which saw Arsenal take a one goal lead, only to see Barca come from behind to take a 2-1 victory. They also played each other at the Quarter Final stage last season, and Arsenal managed to fight back from 2 goals down at the Emirates to get a respectable draw.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and Barcelona thrashed them 4-1 at the Nou Camp. In the last 5 meetings between the two sides, Arsenal have lost 3 and drawn 2. But they’ve always managed to score past the Spanish side, and tonight could be the moment when the wheel turns and they get one over on Pep Guardiola’s men.
Wenger thinks they can – Arsene has certainly talked up his team’s chances ahead of tonights game. In a press conference yesterday, Wenger told assembled journalists that Arsenal are ‘highly motivated to show we are a different team (to the one that lost at the Nou Camp). Wenger believes that his players have ‘the quality 100% to do it.’ Asked what the players were up to, Wenger smiled coyly and claimed that they were watching videos of Barcelona in action. Does the Frenchman have an ace up his sleeve? Wenger knows that if his team beat Barcelona, then they’re good enough to beat anyone, and will be sure-fire favourites to reach the final. If that’s not a big enough carrot, then he needs a bigger stick!
Barcelona had a bad game at the weekend – Although they are currently tearing up La Liga and are sitting pretty at the top of the Spanish heap, they could only scrape a draw against Sporting Gijon, who currently sit in 16th. And it took a very good goal from David Villa to rescue that result. It’s not a catastrophic result, but it shows they are but men. That match ended their 16 game unbeaten run and, I don’t care who you are, that takes a little bit of the edge off some players. Arsenal, are a better team than Sporting Gijon.
Arsenal are a much stronger team than they were when the two sides last met – The last time Arsenal played Barcelona, the Champions League was their only chance of silverware. They had been knocked out of the FA Cup and the League Cup and were out of the running for the Premiership. This time around, they have a great chance of winning both domestic cups and are sitting second in the league breathing down Man Uniteds neck’s.
Despite a few bad results this season, they’ve been playing some great football throughout and with Fabregas and Van Persie in the side, they’re not short of match-winners. There’s also talk that Samir Nasri will feature. Wenger confirmed that he was in the squad, and he would make a decision on whether the player would start later today. He’s the Gunner’s top goal-scorer and if he plays they stand a great chance of making something happen. The team is older, wiser and up for it. A lethal combination.
Stranger things have happened – Ok, so Arsenal aren’t the ‘plucky little team’ here. There’s plenty of people reading this who think Arsenal can do Barcelona at the Emirates. It’s not a completely unrealistic expectation. However, they are the underdogs.
Anyone who goes into a match with the best team in the world, is going to be the underdogs. But let’s not forget that they are at home, and they play some good stuff at home. And come on…Spurs beat AC at the San Siro. Liverpool came from 3-0 down in Istanbul. Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston. South Africa won the 1995 rugby World Cup. The US hockey team beat the Soviet Union. This is Arsenal’s moment, and they are perfectly placed to seize it. Don’t be surpirsed if they do.
And the 6th reason, is that Piers Morgan is an Arsenal fan, and he’s currently having the best year of his life. I know, I can’t understand it either.
Don’t be a dingbat! Visit me at Twitter @petermagpie.com
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