Arsenal vs Barcelona – The Day Has Arrived

The day has finally arrived – the day that is probably the biggest game the Emirates has held to date. Yes, we’ve entertained the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus, but we’re now playing a team on form, a team which is currently held as the best team in Europe. The current Champions League holders. It’s exciting.

Last year, when we played Manchester United in the Champions League, we created at atmosphere in the Emirates that I haven’t heard in the stadium ever (well, except Sp*rs games), albeit it didn’t last for that long, but it was amazing nonetheless and this is something that I hope we can recreate tomorrow.

Not only do we have one of the best teams in the land, we also have the return of our very own prodigy, Thierry Henry, back to the Emirates. One legend, David Seaman spoke of his former colleague:

“I think he’ll get a fantastic reception and he deserves that. He did a lot for Arsenal. He was the captain as well for a few years and he’s a great guy. I saw him grow up at Arsenal and he learnt the hard way. When you’ve got the back four kicking lumps out of you, you’ve got to learn hard and he did – he became a fantastic player.”

He was to us as Lionel Messi is to Barcelona. When Henry played at Highbury and for a short period at the Emirates – he was the player who could create something out of nothing, he was the player that everyone was scared of. And that’s what people say of Messi now. Yes, Barcelona have Messi, but they’ve got a whole host of other players that we’ve got to be aware of and Arsene has tried to get that across to the players and fans.

“The good thing at Barcelona is there are many players to stop, so we do not have to focus on one. I believe what you want from your team is not to worry too much about the strengths of Barcelona but more focus on our strengths, our qualities, be brave, go for it and then we have every chance. We want to turn up and have a great performance. My team is on a fantastic run, even if we had a disappointment in the last minute on Saturday. Overall if you consider what this team has done in the last two months it is absolutely exceptional and I want that game tomorrow to be at the level of what we have produced recently.”

And the gaffer does have a massive point – with the exception of the points dropped last week – the run we’ve been on has been good. We’ve come from behind to win games. We’ve scored in injury times several times to win games too, and it would be wrong to think we can’t show ourselves in our true dynamic and efficient manner.

We’ve had good news in the press today and that is that both Gallas and Cesc look ready to start against Barcelona later tonight. Gallas has been out for a while, but he was included in the squad on Monday and the news is that he has not suffered any reactions and is ready to start. Cesc also has bruising, but despite mixed messages from the club, our captain’s very own father spoke out yesterday and said he thought Cesc would play.

So based on everything we know, the team line up could well be:

Almunia

Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy

Song – Diaby

Nasri – Cesc – Arshavin

Bendtner

If that team lined up, it could be a massive bonus – apparently there will be further tests before the game on both Cesc and Gallas, but the news is that both should be in a position to start. In other news surrounding the game, Tommy V has suggested that he can “handle” Lionel Messi – he also goes on to speak about this being his best season. If we do go on to win, we have to have Vermaelen at his best.

So, sit back, relax, and get behind the team – this is by far the biggest game of the season.

  • ny

    This lineup is almost a sure one.However I am a bit worried about Arshavin.As I have mentioned in previous posts we are a 10 men team with Arshavin in the team.He watches others play waiting for the opposition to get tired.Wiil this help us agaist Barca? I dont think so…..

  • Kuka

    Great post Devday and sure enough, it dies not get bigger than this. I watched United play Bayern last night and realized how football is quite an unpredictable game. That makes me quite excited about today’s game, knowing there is no favorite in a cup-game. You need to show up and perform on the night. That line up is as best as it can get, just missing Van Persie.

    @ny: you are right in the sense that Arshavin appears disinterested at times and might be a missing guy. I have watched him play for country and former club, Zenit, and that is how he is. He reminds me of Berbetov in a way. Quite dull and tired, then in a minute shows up with magic. I like him on the pitch, because opponents will never know what he up to.

  • Sam

    For those fortunate to be at the Emirates tonight: MAKE SOME NOISE!

    Go Gunners…

  • jason

    @Kuka. U r right abt Arsh. He weaves his magic when least expected at the pitch.

    Fab will definately play. It will take alot more than a serious bruised leg to keep him out of this tie. He’s been waiting for this.

    Go Gunners!!!

  • goonerman

    Arshavin is one of those players that can be out of a game for 70 minutes and show up for half an hour BUT he is simply a match winning player and to leave him out is a waste of huge talet! im sure wenger will force him to do some defensive duties but we will just have to work harder to make up for his lack of defensive duties!

  • dampatti

    i love being the underdog, which is has been hard to come by as a gooner in my years. what have we got to lose? get beat by barcelona? as soon as the draw was out it was nailed on yanited/barca final anyway so who cares if messi gets a hattrick? we’ve got very little hope of seeing progress in this years competition but what hope did we have against parma? we were favourites (where we not?) against galatasaray in 2000 and look what happened. underdogs against madrid, juventus and villarreal and look what happened, as soon as we got some hope after beating them we went up against barcelona and thought ‘yeah maybe this is our year, ronaldinho is an ugly overrated twat, we’ve got the best player on the planet…’

    hope is dangerous but dreams are just that: dreams. it would be a dream come true to upset the odds and sneak an away goal win over the 2 legs, no one has any real expectation of this club winning the european cup, we’ve got no hope… thats a good thing!

  • kedir

    To day is aday to death.ARSENAL OR BARCELONA.

  • kedir

    To day is a day to win but there is a death.{Arsenal or Barcelona}

  • hello

    .
    BIG GAME BENDTNER!!

  • Pissed off

    Do not admire Messi as we do to Drogba then we stand a chance. Its that simple.

  • devday

    Cesc said this today – apparently he is not fit, but desperate to play!!!

    “Ever since the draw was made I’ve dreamt about this game and I am desperate to play in it,” Fabregas told The Sun.

    “I’ve never disguised my affection for Barcelona, it’s where I was brought up and where I learned so many beautiful things about football.

    “But Arsenal have the same principles and this is our chance to show the world that we can stand shoulder to shoulder with Barcelona and emerge triumphant. You can’t imagine how much I want to be part of that.”

  • dampatti
  • Sam

    Courtesy of Goal.com:

    Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas will start for Arsenal against Barcelona in this evening’s Champions League quarter-final at the Emirates stadium after he took to the training pitch earlier today and trained without any discomfort.

    Wow!GO GUNNERS, GOOOO!!!

  • Nick

    @Same… That’s some fantastic and very welcome news! I don’t think anyone who’s a true fan of football would want to see these two great teams going at it 100% with full squads available. It’s a shame we have to be without RVP and a couple others and Barca will without Iniesta. I want the better team to win and that means the best players playing their best. Not a wounded team playing a fully fit team.

  • Will Scott

    Honestly cannot wait for tonight. Hopefully Cesc will play, people say the when he’s not 100% fit he’s nothing special, I think that even at 50% fitness, against Barca he will have something to show to people.

    The main thing tonight is to play as a team. Don’t get caught out of position and if we take the lead, don’t get complacent. We have to defend well, and I think the two wide men will have to help out the full backs a lot. Song has an important role tonight too, sitting infront of the back 4, intercepting any through balls and then giving the ball to Cesc/Diaby/Nasri to bring it forward. I can see the main Barcelona threat coming from them getting inside our full backs or in the space between Song and the back four.

    Let’s not be overwhelmed by the fact that we are playing the european and world champions, let’s all believe we can win!

    Let’s make the Emirates an atmosphere to rember and get the team going. Anyone who’s played football from grass roots level to club level knows how much that can do for you. If you think that your dad shouting at you on the sidelines at school could get you moving, think what 60,000 Gooners can do to our 11 heros out there tonight.

    Also, whether he starts or is on the bench, I hope each and every Arsenal fan gives Thierry Henry a standing ovation. We did when he visited against Blackburn earlier in the season, and he deserves it again, even though he’s in the away dressing room. He’s a legend and always will be, and loves this club just as much as we all do.

    So good luck to the lads tonight!

    COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!

  • kedir

    arsenal will be win!

  • Vazy

    so freaking excited about tonight!

    COMON YOU GOONERS!

  • andrew

    Up the Gooners!!!! Can’t wait for the game to start. Let there be beautiful football and an Arsenal victory!

  • Will Scott

    Just confirmed on SSN that Henry is starting on the bench for Barca.

  • Will Scott

    Cesc Fabregas STARTS
    William Gallas STARTS

    ALMUNIA
    SAGNA – GALLAS – VERMAELEN – CLICHY
    SONG
    CESC – DIABY
    NASRI – BENDTNER – ARSHAVIN

  • Al

    Come on u gunners lets do em

  • Josiah

    come in arsenal!

  • manoo

    i am shitting myself. they are a decent side.LOL

  • goonerman

    please people come on the live chat thing i cant watch us get battered like this on my own!!! its so painfull

  • Sam

    Sorry buddy, can’t take my eyes off the TV!

  • Josiah

    cant believe arshavin and gallas injured

  • Sam

    Now Cesc misses the next game. It just keeps coming!

  • Sam

    Simply outclassed but 0-0 so far.
    Thanks to Almunia.

  • olutoni

    I so scared!!!! They are playing us on all front

  • Jeffo

    I was furious with the wife as i have to pick her up at 9 and the likelyhood of her keeping schtum whilst i listened to the radio in the car was highly unlikely but at this rate it looks like a blessing in disguise.

    Lets hope Cesc makes up for his disappointment buy having a killer secound half.

    Come on you Reds

  • Josiah

    and now fabregas out of next leg

  • manoo

    we’re getting outplayed, gallas and arshavin both injured, and cesc will miss the return leg. BUT ITS STILL 0-0!!!!!

    well played almunia

    I think puyol has saved barca twice- we could have had 3 goals ourselves but they could have had about 10 so..we’ll see.

  • Shawn

    not looking good, but we got some luck tonight . . .

  • Josiah

    i dont even think we did too bad, lets hope we get something good from the second half

  • Josiah

    oh dear, i wasnt even watching when that went in

  • manoo

    that was a quality finish tbh. Unlucky, they are just a better team then. its annoyin how the we got caught like that twice in the 2nd half. lets try n nik a goal . DONT CONCEDE ANY MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sam

    That’s 2 goals for Barca, 1 shot on target for us!

  • manoo

    a goal back and no more conceded, and you never know, the 2 goals were a bit route 1, poor defending but brilliant finishes. We afford 2 get battered in terms of our confidence- a goal back would definately help.

  • manoo

    run of the ball really isnt going for us today- it keeps landing perfectly for valdes and puyol- perhaps its just good positioning.

  • Sam

    Look at the positive side; we’ve kept Messi quiet!!!
    So far…

  • manoo

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSs WALCOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Sam

    THEO THEO THEO!!!

  • manoo

    our players keep falling over- who does our boots, they got the wrong studs on. ESPECIALLY DIABY!!!!!!!!! lets get an equaliser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Shawn

    Arsenal!!!!

  • Sam

    What a game, 2-2.
    Puyal & piket out of next game, so is Cesc.
    We’re suddenly in it!!!

  • Sam

    We just drew with the world’s best team, well done to the players. Almunia kept us in the game in the first half, good on him.

    It’s going be one hell of a return game!

  • Syah

    What a game!!! Haha. The last 25 mins were orgasmic I should say. After everything I was somehow reminded of the movie mighty ducks. Haha. It’s time the footballing world take us as serious contenders for any form of tournament. Let’s win it at nou camp!!

  • vj

    amazing result honestly, barca might still be leading this tie but arsenal will be very pleased. could easily have dozens more to barca. vermaelen played a blinder except for that first goal. walcott showed maxwell and puyol why they should stick to spanish and italian football. With no puyol pique, probs no iniesta ibra lucky i think with some bad deefending. plus gallas arshavin maybe even van persie back the bookies just cant rule us out yet

  • Kuka

    I do not care what anyone says. I love Arsenal. These team has amazing belief. They overcame all the huddles, yellow cards, injuries, two goals down and managed a draw. Looked like the team capable of winning. I am pleased with the team. I have been on my feet since the first whistle and now, I deserve to sleep

  • Gooner Get Ya

    Can the real Almunia please stand up. If ge had played like that all season we could have won the EPL already. Oh and what was with Diaby tonight, he was absolutely shockingly shite!!! Still in it though… Come on!!!!

  • tm17

    Gallas out for season but fit for World Cup – Wenger

    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/31032010/2/gallas-season-fit-world-cup-wenger.html

    More bad news!!!!!!!

  • Sam

    That was one amazing game. First Barca took us by storm, then we rained on their parade!
    Now that the game has sunk in, and my heart has stopped racing, I think our chances are now better than before the kick-off. Barca won’t take us lightly next time, and they’ll have their own injury & suspension worries.
    Already looking forward to the return game. Go Gunners!

  • tm17

    Gallas out for season but fit for World Cup – Wenger

    More bad news!!!!!!!

  • manoo

    fabregas may have a broken leg according to sky sports news- praying thats not true

  • JDD

    i highly doubt it is a broken leg.i just think he has pulled a muscle he wouldn’t have playd the last 5mins if it was broken.as for the game i thought they showed us the deal the first 30mins but we somehow kept them quiet and we were the dominent side the last 15mins of the half,halftime came at a bad time for us.and their goals were typical almunia, he played superb first half then gets lobbed and beaten at his near post.the fightback was terrific and i think if we take that desire we showed in the last half an hour to the nou camp we can beat them.they will have no pique and puyol and maybe not abidal and iniesta.we will be without gallas and fabrgeas.i still believe we CAN DO IT.

  • goonerman

    the first half we were outclassed and i thought the game would be settled by the end of the night with barca going through! BUT the team showed some amazing character in the last 20 minutes and if theo can put in performances like that a bit more often then he would easily be starting for england come june! and im sure fabio was delighted to see the impact he had on the game becuase not one single barca player could handle that mans pace and like wenger says the speed he can get on the huge nou camp pitch could cause their defence big problems even though thats gonna be one hell of an uphill battle!

    INJURIES!!!!!

    When rooney went down injured last night i thought to myself united are actually going to BANG we are in a bad bad way,

    Gallas- wenger predicts he is out for the season leaving sol silvestre and song to step up to the plate and do the job for the remainder of the season.

    arshavin is also out with a calf injury ruling him out for a couple of weeks i suppose, im sure his loss cn easily be replaced.

    but most wworrying is cesc fabregas, manoo aint so far off the mark cesc himself said he fears he has broken a bone and his season may well be over, he hopes for the best but he said he does not feel good and isnt very optimistic!

    Whatever happens this season the boys have done amazingly with the injuries we have had and the fresh batch we are having! no team has had to deal with our kind of bad luck and im a proud gooner!!

  • Nick

    The last 25 minutes are what football is all about. Where was that in the first half? Theo was man of the match for me. Almunia with incredible saves in the first half only to be caught way outside the box and the nose with feet scores a brilliant goal. Shades of Raul that was.

    Theo’s entrance into the game completely changed the mood of the team and his goal was brilliant. Cesc, what can I say. A true warrior and the heart of a champion. I hope his injury is only minor. I still don’t understand how he got hurt. He looked fine on his PK and running to the net to get the ball, then just started limping. How he stayed on and ran out the rest of the game is beyond me.

    WTF happened to Arshavin. I thought Wenger just yanked him because he was having a shocker. He just came off the pitch and straight to the tunnel. He never looked like he was injured.

    Gallas, as soon as he went down I knew it was over for the season.

    Diaby was shit and Vermaelen was the opposite.

    Proud we shut Messi out. How I don’t know considering the first 25 minutes of the game. We could’ve easily been down 4-0.

    Lets take it to them at the Camp Nou. Start Nasri in Cesc’s spot and Theo on the wing.

  • Kuka

    I seem to be moving on to the little matter of Wolves this weekend. I have tried out the maths, and if United Win, we are in deep trouble. Amazingly, even if Chelsea win, we shall still be in the hunt as the table will look like this 71 (Asl) 72(MU) 74 (Che). If United Win and we win, the gap remains 4 points which becomes really challenging.

    The ideal scenario would be if they draw, then the table will look like this:
    71 (ASNL) 72(Chelsea) and 73 (United). How cool will that be?

    Unfortunately for us, we have to play 2 teams technically locked in a relegation battle (Wolves, Wigan) and 2 teams fighting for Europe (City and Spurs) and 2 teams that are just difficult to play against (Fulham and Blackburn)

    Chelsea have to play 1 title contender (MU); 2 teams locked in battle for 4th (Spurs, Liverpool); 2 teams technically in a survival battle (Bolton and Wigan) and finally a tough team to beat (Stoke)

    Finally, United has to play Chelsea (vying for the title); city and spurs fighting for 4th, Stoke and Blackburn (tough teams to break down) and finally Sunderland.

    The interesting aspect of this run in, is that each team has a stake in the run in. If its not the title, its 4th, if its not 4th, its relegation and if its not relegation, its survival. This makes it awesome fun for the neutral. But for us, its a time to grow some gray hair or loose it all. We need sanity and good mental health, otherwise the next 1.5 months will be DRAMA

    Am still standing with a surprise Title to the Emirates. This will be the sweetest ever!!!!

  • yemi

    Barca had the first half cos we were not closing them down. On the other hand when they lose the ball they quicky close us down. We allowed them too much space. I am sure that won’t happen a second time and i expect a good game at the nou camp. An emphatic win since we should have noted their style of play and weakness by now !!! Go Go Go gooners, proud to be one. I did not hear anyone talking about denilson, he had a very good game. I think this is the kind of game where he can shine. A less physical and more technical game.

  • manoo

    theres a lot of talk on some sites and some papers that we were shit in the 1st 20 mins(hour according to those wankers at the daily mail) was down to tactical neglegence by wenger, in terms of inisting we do not deviate from our own game. That may be true in some sense, but i dont beleive he is stubborn enough to not tell our players to close them down when they have the ball- like they did to us.
    Another problem was the defending, as wenger regrets for the two goals- as good as almunia was in the 1st half hour, that was poor decision making, not helped by imbrahimovich having a ridiculuos amount of space plus not closing down pique who made the pass. IN the second goal, verminator stepped up, no one else did, he was in, awful commication but a ridiculuos finish.

    Finally, Gallas and fabs may be out for he rest of the season, and arsh will miss our next 4 games or so, which is hard to take from one game. hopefully the rest of the lads can do well for the rest of the year.
    On a positive note almunia 1st 20 mins was immense- the rest of the lads were brilliant after that- especially nasri, clichy, eboue- evevn denilson played well. My only concern was diaby- he kept falling over, so did a few others- like i said previosly, i think theyre wearing the wrong studs..
    ALso, pep said thats his teams best 45 mins his team has played away since hes been in charge, yet they didnt score. You cant guarantee theyll be that good again at nou camp- no 1s 100% all the time(2nd half) plus they wont have their 2 CBs. SO COME ON ARSENAL

    next up:

    wolves- MUST WIN to keep us in it

    THEN

    nou camp- must win or score at least 2 goals- lets go 4 2-0 then

  • goonerman

    the news coming from sky sports news is that gallas will only be out for 2 weeks so that is some reallyy good news after the bad night of injuries but the fabregas injury is not looking good and it looks like we will be planning the rest of the season without him, nasri is going to get a good run in his favourite position and he has a chance to make a real name for himself. I hope this injury just adds more fight and spirit to the team. Also people forget spanish people are probably all crapping themselves that fabby could miss the world cup becuase he has been by far their best midfielder in th last year scoring and assisting goals for spain all of a sudden!

    like a couple people have said denilson was very good for the time he played he was actually our best passer and he didnt even play a full 90 minutes, with fabregas being the equal longest runner in the game despite not being 100% fit, that shows commitment !!

    also we do have a big game on the weekend before barca next week and we cant underestimate wolves becuase they are full of confidence but that draw against barcelona should give the lads amazing belief yet again!!