Date:8th March 2011 at 4:50pm
Written by:

You’re going to struggle to find fixtures more important than this one. The Gunners take on Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League qualifier and Arsenal bring a priceless 2-1 advantage into the match. One wonders how much that away goal is going to affect things and it looks fairly obvious that we’re going to need to score at least one in order to have a genuine chance of progressing.

Robin van Persie has travelled with the Arsenal squad but we’re still not 100% whether he will actually play or not. There is a distinct possibility that he’ll be on the bench to start and come on for the last 30 minutes or so. Another school of thought exists where you think van Persie will start the match and might be in better form than the Arsenal brass have been suggesting.

You won’t find a better outright price on Arsenal for the rest of the year with a 15/2 price should we get the away victory tonight. We are a much more reasonable 11/5 to progress to the next stage of the competition no matter what the method. Barca are odds-on for the win tonight at 2/7 and they’re a slim 1/3 to progress to the next stage.

Both Lionel Messi and David Villa are odds-on to score at 4/7 and 4/5, respectively. Robin van Persie is the shortest-priced Arsenal player at 5/2 for an anytime goal. Nicklas Bendtner is at 3/1 while Marouane Chamakh trades at 7/2. Samir Nasri is worth keeping your eye on at an enticing 9/2 – he has the quality to undo Barca under the right circumstances.

Cesc Fabregas will play and he’s available at 9/2 as well. With all the endless bleating about “Fabregas to Barca” it might be worth a cheeky bet on Fabregas to score the last goal of the match at a tasty 14/1.

Our best chance to win the match comes from Barca being forced to deploy a makeshift (well, makeshift for the Catalan club) backline of Busquets and Eric Abidal, who generally plays as a defensive midfielder. These two will be more vulnerable than the Puyol/Pique tandem, especially at set-pieces. Additionally, Abidal not playing in his holding role means that we might be able to boss the midfield a bit more than you’d expect.

It’s a tall order to keep Barcelona from scoring at home, but it can be done. If you reckon we’ll get the job done at Camp Nou, try a 1-1 draw at 8/1.


Comments are closed.