When the Champions League tie was announced, it was clear that Arsenal have drawn the hard route to the final… Most people think – hey Arsenal don’t have a chance, Barcelona – wow that’s tough… but people forget, we were the team that everyone didn’t want…
A certain Pep Guardiola said after the draw had been made:
“Arsenal were the very last team we wished to draw.”
And the reasons are obvious – Barcelona have excellent players going forward, in Messi, Henry and Ibra with two excellent supporting players in Xavi and Iniesta… but looking further back, the likes of Dani Alves, Eric Abidal as well as the middle two of Pique (who may be injured) and Puyol are very suspect in defence. Keita and Toure haven’t quite hit the heights – and we’ve seen just as recently as last weekend how fragile their defence is. They didn’t want us because they know we can play them and expose their defensive frailties…
Their sporting director is also quite worried – he has mentioned how he is worried about the home leg and hopes the away leg will prove useful to them
“It’s a great tie. We are two teams who don’t shut up shop and play long ball football, and this tie will be nice for the fans. It will be a good spectacle and we’ll see if we are a little stronger than them. In any case, the best news is knowing that we will be playing the return leg at home. We are strong at home and we’ve shown that.”
But in all honesty, looking at the team from the outside in… there are many questions that Barcelona will have…
How do we stop Cesc?
The scorer of 18 goals and the same number of assists this season – they’ll be focused on stopping the former Barcelona player from playing – but how do you stop Cesc? Man mark him? Kick him out of the game?
How do we control Arshavin?
Don’t forget we’ve got the wiley little Russian on our left… down at the Nou Camp, they’ll be wondering what they have to do to stop the Russian. He’s hitting some form (well, in the big games anyway) and he’ll be relishing
Who marks Theo Walcott?
A question that Eric Abidal, Yaya Toure and Puyol will have? Do you go close? Do you give him space? Theo’s pace will trouble their defence, no question about it. They will need to come up with a plan to stop Theo going forward. How?
How do we predict Bendtner?
Okay, maybe they won’t be thinking that… but it’s a question that I would like to know the answer to. Our finest Danish International is unpredictable and very bundly (is that a word?) things tend to bounce off him, but he has those golden moments of magic – can he pull one out against Barce?
We saw the Nasri goal against Porto? How do we stop that happening against us?
With so many Arsenal players capable of something out of nothing, a la Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, Cesc and let’s not forget Diaby… after our recent thrashing of Porto and the devastating effect that Eboue, Arshavin and Nasri had on the end result, how do they mark everyone? If they let Nasri have space, they will get punished.
Whatever the outcome, whatever the result, the whole world is eagerly awaiting this one… Begiristain pointing out…
“Cesc returns to the Nou Camp but Thierry Henry will also face his former team and that makes it even more interesting…”
Indeed… I feel a classic coming on…