Champions League Draw Preview

Later today is the big draw – the Champions League draw… the draw for the next round of the competition. Huge, isn’t it? And all eye will be on who we draw… as we’re the biggest team to finish second and with 3 English teams and our group winners finishing top, we’re limited to 4 opponents.

I knew we’d get Barcelona.

Oops, I should say that yet should I? But it is a very likely outcome – we have four teams we could draw – Bayern Munich, Schalke, Barcelona or Real Madrid. All the teams are worthy opponents, for sure, but if there were to be a weakest team, you’d have to say it was Schalke, right?

“It doesn’t matter who I want because even if I say we want Barcelona you will not believe me. I hope we get who I feel we will get.”

That quote was from Arsene, not me.

Damn, we got Barcelona

When Barce played Real Madrid in La Liga, it was a comfortable 5-0 victory for the league champions – and if you watched that game, it was football at it’s best – the game from Barce was beautiful, they closed down well, everyone did, not just a DM, but everyone in the whole team closed down – well, very well. When in possession, they were calm, controlled and penetrative.

Arsene said after that game:

“It was some of the best football I’ve ever seen. They played outstandingly well for 90 minutes. What was surprising was that they had no weak moment in that game. Their determination and focus for 90 minutes was spot-on and the quality was unbelievable. When you see a performance like that, you are encouraged to get to that level. It is good that teams show you how well you can play football. It was the best performance of the season in European football. On a night, anything can happen. You can have a weak game when you are not completely at your best, and Barcelona turn up. It happened to us last season in the first 30 minutes [of the first leg].”

We don’t want Barcelona

We definitely don’t want Barcelona – beating them over one leg is possible, but over two is hard – yes they have been beaten before, but we don’t play like the team that have beaten them – we play like them, like Real Madrid did, we would be too open and perhaps get battered too. I’m not being negative, don’t get me wrong, I’m being realistic.

The draw for the first knockout round takes place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland today at 11am.

The first leg of the next Champions League tie will take place at Emirates Stadium on February 15, 16, 22 or 23. The second leg, which will be away, will take place on March 8, 9, 15 or 16.

Here’s a video of Wayne Rooney taking out Chamakh off the ball:

Nasty individual isn’t he?

  • kittygooner

    We definitely want to get Schalke – they are officially rubbish – but I feel like it is written in the heavens that we will get Barcelona :-(

  • devday

    Did you hear the comment from Arsene, insinuating the Arsenal vs Barcelona fixture was fixed?

    “I know who we will get. At this level, you need connections.”

    Interesting…

  • goonerman

    Tony ulis is actually the biggest idiot in the premier league!! he is coming out talking about the stupid fair play league saying we are a much dirtier team than them. i would like to say that this season most teams that have played against us have been a bunch of complete faired there has been so much rolling in the floor and dramatic falls its quite embarresing, we get penalised for pathetic little fouls were as some of our opponents get away with tellings off for potential leg breaking tackles!! WHO’S TEAM BREAKS LEAGS MR PULIS???? yours you mug not ours!! i cant bare to lose to that scumbag of a man on saturday.

  • tom

    my god, the corruptness is astonishing.

  • gerry

    bollokks – not again – i think we could actually get humiliated

  • devday

    Ouch. Barcelona. Double Ouch.

  • Goonerman

    Haha I know people say it can’t be fixed but this is one heck of a coincidence!!!

  • devday

    Arsene predicted it. I should have put a bet on it – I did try!

  • Kodjo

    If I was Arsene…

    I’d play Sagna, Djorou, Vermaelen & Kos as left back. I’d line up a midfield 4 of Ramsey, Diaby, Eboue, & Song. We need tough guys who can run, track and hustle. With the players at our disposal, the midfield 4 represents our best option. If Wenger is brave he could play *Lansbury in the game…the boy does not have the experience but has definitely got the guts and the lungs to play…(I’m not crazy…i think arsenal need his type in our midfield).

    * more on Lansbury later*

    Play Chamakh upfront with Cesc/ Nasri supporting in attack but dropping into midfield positions when we loose possession.

    Chamakh roles is critical to destabilizing barca play bcos he needs to track Pique and hustle Puyol as well. Reason being, Pique plays as an auxiliary midfielder when barca are in possession…this affords Xavi the opportunity to move further up and pick his passes. Once Pique is on the back foot…Xavi will automatically have to drop back to pick up the ball…Cesc or Nasri depending on which of them plays can then close him down…leaving arsenal 1 spare midfielder who can then man mark Messi or pick up Iniesta’s runs from deep.

    Bendtner simply did not have the legs to pressurize Pique and Puyol…though depending on how the game pans out he could be useful if Arsene decides to play more crosses in the box as barca are notoriously weak at it.

    In defence always create 2 (Vermaelen & Djorou) vs 1 with Villa. Sagna can always drift in to make it tight bcos I don’t expect anything coming from the left side of barca except when Villa moves out wide left and Messi occupies a central striker position.

    I’d line up Eboue in front of Kos with Song on that side of the midfield. Just to cause traffic and stymie Messi. There will be no need to for Kos to overlap as we will be building all our attacks through the middle or on the right side. This stops Alves from finding space. But knowing his natural tendencies he will play further up on the wing trying to free up space for Messi. Chamakh on the counter can exploit the space left behind by Alves which means he will be 1 on 1 with Pique with Cesc/Nasri occupying Puyol.

    Alternatively, if Gibbs is fit, he can be deployed in front of Kos as he a good crosser of the ball and his attacking qualities are good as well.

    I suspect Arsene will play Walcott on the right wing to create panic and doubt on the left side of barca’s midfield and defence. Barce may counter this move by playing Abidal as a deep sitting left back. Either way if Walcott plays smart he’d pose problems on that side of barca’s pitch. This will force Busquets to think twice b4 advancing forward as he will have to double up on Walcott as well, forcing the barca left back into defence mode for most of the time.

    Having said all of this its…easier said than done….but we have chance if Arsene employs the right tactics and personnel…meaning he abandons or tempers our free flowing style just for the 2 games.