Posted on Tuesday, 8th March 2011 by Tony Merakli
The Gunners, who hold a 2-1 lead from the first-leg thanks to goals from Robin Van Persie and Andrey Arshavin, have a great chance of qualifying to the next round providing they avoid defeat on Spanish soil tonight. However, can Wenger’s men achieve such a feat, and more importantly, qualify to the quarter-final stage?
There have certainly been a lot of twist and turns since the two sides met less than 3 weeks ago at the Emirates.
Where do I begin? Well, firstly we lose to Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final at Wembley, manage to draw against League One outfit Leyton Orient in the F.A Cup (later whooping them 5-0 at Emirates), and this past Saturday, failed to pick up a win against Sunderland at home. During this time we also had Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, Alex Song and Theo Walcott all pick up knocks, which hasn’t helped our cause…all this in the space of 20 days would you believe.
Unfortunately for the Gunners, Alex Song and Theo Walcott have not managed to recover in time for the big game, but Arsenal fans will be boosted to see Cesc lead the charge tonight, and unbelievably, Robin Van Persie has also been named in the squad after being ruled out of action for 3 weeks…you sure he was injured Mr. Colin Lewin?
Their opponents, Barcelona, haven’t been affected in terms of league position or form, but the Catalans have had their own injury scares since they last met Wenger’s men. Xavi and Victor Valdes did pick up injuries, but have managed to make the squad. However, the La Liga champions will be without their talismanic captain Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique. Puyol has been out since January with a knee problem, and although the Spaniard returned to light training last week, he is still not fit enough to compete. Pique on the other hand will not feature after picking up a suspension. Good news for us then.
So Barcelona will be without their first-team centre-backs, whilst Arsenal will be without their midfield enforcer and speed merchant.
Well Gunnersphere.com conducted a poll on the subject, which asked visitors after the first-leg match at the Emirates – ‘Can Arsenal qualify to the next stage of the Champions League after their 2-1 win over Barcelona at the Emirates?’ Yes, no, or not sure were the three possible answers.
Well the majority of Arsenal fans have responded in a positive manner in terms of the poll. Results show that 51% of votes cast (105 in total) believe that the Gunners can bag a positive result tonight, and evidently, progress to the quarter-final stages. However, 24% of Arsenal fans feel their time is up in the Champions League, whilst 25% remain unsure of what will occur tonight.
Personally, I don’t know what’s going to transpire tonight. Anything can happen when these two sides meet. All I can say is – may the best team win…hopefully that team will be Arsenal.
Bet365 have given Arsenal a 9/4 shot of qualifying to the next round, whilst Barcelona are at 1/3. Find all of Bet365’s in-play markets and odds on tonight’s match (as well as others) by clicking HERE.
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Tags: Alex Song, Andrey Arshavin, Arsenal, Barcelona, Camp Nou, Carles Puyol, Cesc Fabregas, Colin Lewin, Emirates, Gerard Pique, Robin Van Persie, Theo Walcott, Victor Valdes, Xavi
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