With Arsenal beating Barcelona 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium a few weeks back, all they need is at least a draw to go though. But with Arsenal’s defense susceptible to a mistake here or there, can they do what they must to ensure safe passage into the next round. If you look at Barcelona’s record at home this season Arsenal may find themselves hard pushed to get the result they want. In 22 games, Barcelona have won 19, drawing only two and losing just once. More importantly they have scored 65, nearly a three a game average and have only conceded nine. But just looking at numbers can’t give you the whole picture as the Barcelona back four has consisted of Alves, Puyol, Pique, Maxwell. But with injuries and suspensions, the central pairing is not going to be Puyol and Pique but Abidal and Milito. Arsenal may well have the chance to inflict some damage on that defense, but Barcelona will also be able to do the same to Arsenal’s defense, which is still far from perfect. I can’t see this game being goalless, so it will be very interesting to see how many goals are scored. A 4-4 draw will still see Arsenal through, as would a 3-2 loss, but if they lost 1-0 Barcelona would go through. The odds would favour Arsenal, as there are more results that would see them through, but in football there are no certainties.
Barcelona are extremely dangerous at home with Messi, Pedro and Villa striking fear in all that are in front of them, with Xavi and Iniesta pulling the string in midfield, sometime attack if the best form of attack. But the can be said for Arsenal on their day and they should that in the first leg. Barcelona let the pressure they had on them drop and Arsenal took advantage of that. Barcelona will be on the attack for the whole 90 minutes, not just because they will be at the Nou Camp, but because they want to score goals, they want to go through. Fabregas should be back for Arsenal and Robin van Persie has been included in the squad. It would be very unlikely that he is going to start, but if they need a goal he could well be brought on. Arsenal fans will be hoping that they will see the Nicklas Bendtner that scored a hat-trick and not the Bendtner that so many fans groan at when they see him warming up to come on. Arshavin looked bright against Sunderland, and he can be a real threat for Barcelona makeshift defense. Wenger would be wishing he had a fit Walcott to cause trouble, as he had been a constant threat to Barcelona they last few years, but will be hoping that Nasri will be stepping up.
Probable Line Up of Barcelona: Valdes; Dani Alves, Milito, Abidal, Maxwell; Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Iniesta; Villa, Messi, Pedro. In a 4-3-3 formation
Probable Line Up of Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy; Diaby, Wilshere; Nasri, Fabregas, Arshavin; Bendtner. In a 4-2-3-1 formation