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- Teams: Arsenal v Middlesbrough: Cazorla out, Elneny in
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Preview: Arsenal v Barcelona, Team News, Line-Up & Prediction
Arsenal face the daunting prospect of taking on Barcelona in the Champions League when we welcome the Spanish giants to the Emirates tonight.
Nobody is giving us any hope of progressing to the last 8. Not even some of our own fans with many suggesting that we throw the towel in and concentrate on the Premier League.
Obviously we have a great chance of lifting the title and that should be our priority. However, this is what being in the Champions League is all about so why on earth aren’t our own fans up for this game?
We should be embracing it and looking forward to welcoming the best team in the world to North London. This is why the players fight so hard to finish in the top four and we should all be thankful we get to be part of such a huge game.
While Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United play nobodies in the Europa League on Thursday night, we get to entertain Barca-fricken-lona in Europe’s elite competition.
Yes, we probably will lose over the two legs, but let’s at least get behind the team and enjoy the occasion. As Mesut Ozil posted on Twitter yesterday, the players need us to be the 12th man in games like this. So enough with the negativity…..
Unfortunately Gabriel hasn’t recovered from his hamstring injury so Per Mertesacker will continue alongside Laurent Koscielny at the back.
Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal will return at full back while Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin should come back in to the midfield after they were all rested at the weekend.
Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are also certain to get recalls after being rested for the Hull draw but it will be interesting to see who Arsene Wenger goes with on the right wing.
Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are back in light training but this game will come too soon so they remain out along with Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta.
Barcelona come in to the game with virtually a fully-fit squad with only Arda Turan out through suspension while Rafinha is injured.
Most of the team picks itself but the big question mark is over who starts on the right. The Ox has been given the nod recently but I’d personally go with Theo Walcott as his pace has caused Barca plenty of problems in the past.
Olivier Giroud is almost certain to lead the line up front but I’d prefer to see Danny Welbeck start as again. His pace and movement would cause them trouble and we need someone to press from the front.
So this would be my team:
It’s very difficult to predict this game. Everyone thinks Barca are going to rip us apart and they might be right, but I have a sneaky feeling Wenger has a plan to try and stop them. We’re an attacking team and they may expect us to play our usual game but the boss has hinted he’s going to be more cautious in the first leg as he doesn’t want us to be out of the tie inside 90 minutes by conceding too many away goals.
So I think defence-first will be the attitude tonight and we’ll look to hit them on the break [hence my line-up above]. If we can stay compact at the back and limit the space between the lines then we could stifle their attacking threat to a degree. The key then would be to use the ball well when we do have a chance to break.
Barca aren’t water-tight at the back and I think we will get opportunities. If Petr Cech can have a worldy in goal, we might just have a chance of producing a miracle. I’m going to be positive and say we’re going to edge this 2-1!
Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona