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Preview: Barcelona v Arsenal, Team News, Line-Ups & Prediction
Arsenal face the daunting task of taking on Barcelona at the Nou Camp in our Champions League last-16 second leg this evening.
The 2-0 defeat in the first leg at the Emirates has pretty-much left us with an impossible task of turning the tie around to book our place in the last eight for the first time in six years.
If we’d have come away with just a 1-0 loss at home, you could argue that we’re capable of getting the result we need tonight, but the late Messi penalty to make it 2-0 has made life extremely difficult.
Beating Barca is hard enough, but it’s even more difficult when the team is out-of-form and low on confidence, and Sunday’s FA Cup defeat to Watford will have hit the players hard.
It means we’ve won just twice in our last two of our last ten games, which isn’t exactly the kind of form you want to be in heading to the best team in the world who are currently on an unbeaten run of 37 games.
Whichever way you look at it, we’re going to need a minor miracle to progress to the last eight, but miracles can happen, right? RIGHT?!
Koscielny is back in the squad after recovering from a calf injury which has seen him miss the last four games.
We didn’t suffer any fresh injuries against Watford on Sunday but Arsene is expected to make a few changes to his starting eleven.
Bellerin is set to come back in at right-back with Chambers not making the trip to Spain while Monreal will replace Gibbs on the left.
Welbeck is also set for a recall after coming off the bench to score at the weekend.
Cech, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rosicky are all still on the sidelines through injury and are therefore unavailable for selection.
Barca on the other hand have virtually a fully-fit squad to choose from with Pique their only absentee as he picked up a suspicious yellow card in the first leg to rule him out of the game.
With the pace and movement on show up front for Barcelona, I think we need to go with Koscielny and Gabriel at the back. The rest of the team pretty-much picks itself but the big decision is who to start on the right wing and upfront.
We’re not going to see much of the ball and will no doubt play on the counter-attack, so I’d go with Welbeck up front as we’ll desperately need his mobility and pace to stretch their back line. Walcott will be a very useful weapon to bring on if needed, but Campbell deserves to start on the right and his work rate will be important.
As for Barcelona, they should line-up:
Ter Stegen, Alves, Mascherano, Vermealen, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Neymar, Messi, Suarez.
A prediction is a tough one for this game. We could get spanked 5-0 but it would be SOOOO Arsenal for us to win 2-1 and crash out in ‘heroic’ fashion. I personally don’t see us getting thrashed. We were right in the game in the first leg until a mad last 20 minutes and could even have taken the lead on a couple of occasions. However, we’ll do well to come away with a 2-1 loss and that’s what I’m going for.
Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal: Barca 4-1 on agg