Arsenal v Barcelona: the best draw of the lot

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Another weekend, another match we can’t afford not to win, but for the time being at least we dream of Catalonia.

Yes of course, the draw for the European Cup could have pitted us against CSKA Moscow or Bordeaux, but where’s the fun in that? To me, the European Cup is about glamour and butterflies in the stomach and gladiatorial footballing contests. This is the kind of tie – a European Cup quarter-final against the best team in Europe – that most fans of most teams would dream of. It’s the best draw.

Incidentally, the Champions League at this stage of the competition is a ridiculous misnomer, seeing it’s no longer a league half the remaining teams are not champions. Time to stick to calling it the European Cup.

Arsena v Barcelona has sub-plots all over the place. There’s the final in 2006, which we led in for so long but ultimately lost, there’s Thierry Henry, who scored a few goals for Arsenal once, and there’s Cesc Fabregas, who’s been on holiday to Barcelona once or something and is ogled covetously by them.

One sub-plot that some people are overlooking is of course Sol Campbell. Our scorer in 2006, he was playing for Notts County at Morecambe in August and now looks likely to be called upon to take on the European champions in a match that will be watched across the world by millions and millions. It’s a Lazarus-esque comeback for him.

Reading some of the bumph round this, the interesting stat for me is how much Arsenal’s team has changed in the intervening four years. It’s had an enormous overhaul.

Only three of the starting XI are still at the club – Eboue, Fabregas and Campbell – along with three of the benchwarmers (Almunia, Clichy, van Persie). Funnily enough, only three of the Barcelona starting XI are still at the club too, so the two teams are almost unrecognisable to those of four years ago.

It’ll be absolutely electric and I can’t wait already.

First thing’s first though, it’s West Ham at the Grove this evening. With Song, Fabregas and Rosicky back we have far more options, but as was shown at Hull last weekend, relegation-threatened opponents are often the most dangerous. They have a good record against us at home in recent years.

Nevertheless, we must win. Try the Prem Predictor if you must, and you will see how tight things are, as if you need reminding. Let’s push on.

I love the business end of the season when there’s still business to be done.

7 thoughts on “Arsenal v Barcelona: the best draw of the lot

  1. A very good post. Esp. the Sol sub plot. If this were a movie of hollywood style then it would follow Sols journey from his Gooner signing, working up to the emotional break down at West Ham back in the day.

    There would be a long scene of him looking into the mirrow and sweeling music, that goal v Barca and end with him scoring the winner from a corner in the final minute this time round.

    Of course, he has to get through West Ham today first… Lock the exits, that boy has rabbit in his blood.

  2. Christ I’m excited.

    I’m in a bar in Sydney at the moment watching the a-league final between Sydney fc and Melbourne victory. its like watching two pub teams!! really makes me appreciate our boys in red.

    barca will be a challenge. insurmountable? perhaps. but what a specatacle!

    can’t wait! come on arsenal!

  3. Well, I did the prediction table and have United pipping us by a point! Damnit Jim!

    I am pretty pleased about getting Barcelona. If anything, it should be an incredible spectacle. I expect Bordeaux to be better than what people are saying and beat Lyon and Utd to get beaten by Inter in the final. I can’t see Barca or Arsenal navigating Inter.

  4. @Daryl

    Rabbits in his blood… ? I LOLed at that.

    It will be the match of the season no doubt.

  5. Messi sends shot across the bow.

    Lays down gauntlet.

    Warning to Sol: Mind your pace.

    Shout to Silvestre: Don’t bring your heavy boots.

    I honestly don’t like the prospect of either of them tracking Messi in his current form.

    Quite simply, they haven’t got the pace for it.

    Give me the younger lads. Vermaelen, to be sure, but let Alex Song have a run-out in central defense, and let Denilson keep up his scoring. We need Diaby, Cesc, Nasri, and Arshavin to be on top form.

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