Arsenal’s Time To Shine

It’s the big one tonight. The battle of European football’s most artisan teams. I’m not going to bore you with a full analytical preview of the match; I could do, but I won’t. Instead I’ll pinpoint a couple of areas of the field that I believe will be key.

Firstly, a lot has been made about Emmanuel Eboue coming in for the suspended Bacary Sagna, but I seriously believe this could play to our advantage. More on this in a bit.

Barca will line-up as expected; Pep Guardiola won’t make any tactical changes to counter us; that isn’t his style as Barcelona only play one way: press hard and high without the ball; take care of the ball in possession like a newborn baby, moving the opposition around the pitch and injecting pace where necessary, whilst creating chances in abundance and finishing clinically, often via David Villa and Lionel Messi – two of the game’s best finishers.

Arsenal will also line-up as expected, with the only question being if Samir Nasri will come back into the team for Andriy Arshavin. That of course depends on his fitness and if Arsene Wenger thinks it’ll be so much of a risk.

The most important area of the field, especially in big matches, is often the midfield and the prospect of Fabregas, Jack and Song versus Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta is enough to make any football fan moist.

But, I feel Arsenal’s right hand side is key; not least due to Sagna’s absence. We all know that without the ball Eboue can be a liability, but if the midfield can get on top of Barca (big if, but our boys are good enough) then Eboue will come into the game going forward. He is hard to track and Maxwell is not renowned for his positional sense when not in possession. Add to that the fact that Barca will be concerned about Walcott’s pace and ability to get in behind, then I believe Arsenal can get a lot of joy down the Barca left.

That is one of the reasons why I think Messi will start on the right, as Pedro offers more cover for his fullback.

I seriously believe Arsenal will come good tonight; whether they can keep that all-important clean sheet is another question; though this current starting back five has shown they are resolute with Johan Djourou fast becoming a vital player for this Arsenal team.

I don’t believe Arsenal will suffer stage fright as they have in big games over the past few years. And I do believe that tonight could well be a benchmark for this Arsenal team.