Friday, 17 December 2010


Arsenal v Barcelona; Foregone conclusion? Not at all. Let’s not forget that last time round Arsenal scored 3 goals against them over the two legs.
Currently Barca are a club buoyed by success, playing good football with a high degree of confidence. They are managed by a man who is in the middle of a great spell at the club.  Arsenal have a set of players with huge question marks hanging over them and a Manager who, at best, is overly pragmatic and has lost his eye for a player.

Arsenal can beat Barcelona over two legs but it depends on a lot (a hell of a lot) of ifs.  
On the basis that there are not going to be two or three world class signings in January; why would Wenger change the habits of a life time? To conquer the Catalans the following ‘ifs’ need to happen.

If Vermaelan, Fabregas and Van Persie are back and fit.Giving us a spine
If Arshavin can produce over 180 minutes what we know he’s capable of
If Nasri retains his current form
If Song sticks to sitting in front of the defence
If Gibbs is back with a run of games at left back.
If Walcott and Wilshire’s mercurial nature can impact in the games.
If Chamakh and Bendtner are utilised appropriately.
If our goalkeeper (whoever that may be) has a decent game
If Rosicky suddenly discovers what he's actually on the pitch to do
And most importantly, if the team can view the last game at the Camp Nou in the right way and see this as a chance to gain vengeance rather than an opportunity to stand back and be dazzled and intimidated.

Let’s not get things out of proportion Barcelona are not gods sent down from Asgard and Olympus. I think, however, that with this set of players the mental barrier is going to be the biggest one to conquer. Particularly if we face them with the likes of Diaby, Denilson and Eboue (although to be fair to Eboue i have no problem when he's deployed at right back) who have had their chance to shine and are never going to be of the requisite quality.

Inter Milan and Mourinho didn’t have that mental barrier last time and they prevailed. That’s the Champions League for you

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