A Great Draw, But For Whom?

By on March 20, 2010

So there it is. It’s Barca and then either CSKA or Inter that stand between a possible all-English Final. In yesterday’s post, I wrote, “I want Barca, but just not yet.” Well, I kinda lied. Now that we’ve actually been drawn with them and the reality is sinking in, I think I would’ve been more than happy to avoid them until at least the final, if not altogether. This draw is not only not ideal, but unfortunate in a number of ways from the Arsenal perspective.

“Where is your confidence, Arsenal Station,” you might say. Regular readers know that I am about as optimistic an Arsenal supporter as they come. However, if Arsenal were 100% fit, I would be in a more “bring-it-on” type of attitude. But, to be honest, the first thing that flashed into my mind when I woke up and saw the draw was visions of Sol Campbell trying to defend Lionel Messi. Stop yourself and think about it for a second. Terrifying, innit? Of course the tie will be decided by more than just one man, but the potential is there a “Silvestre in the FA Cup Semifinal”-type moment.

The second thing that worries me is the ripeness of the tie for subplots. There’s the already-underway deluge of Cesc-to-Barca stories. As if getting drawn with them somehow changes everything he has said on the subject for 2 years. Then, of course, there is the Thierry Henry subplot. I don’t know what’s more cringeworthy-the scenario above or Henry scoring a goal against us at the Emirates?

Everyone has gotten what they want-a great Quarterfinal match-up with unlimited entertainment potential. Everyone but the two sides involved, that is. Make no mistake about it. Barca are not the team they were last season and they will consider themselves almost as unfortunate in the draw as Arsenal do.

But for all the worrying, the draw has set up 2 matches between the 2 most entertaining sides in Europe. I fully expect this tie will be remembered for many, many years to come. I just hope it will be remembered fondly rather than bitterly. Like Wenger said, it’s 50-50. I fully believe that we can go through and, despite pointing out these concerns, I am not in despair over the draw. At this stage of the competition, you cannot get around playing the best clubs.

But the rest of the draw doesn’t matter, at the moment. In fact, THIS draw doesn’t matter much either with West Ham coming up in less than 12 hours as I write. Wenger really summed it up in his press conference yesterday. He said that we have to focus on the League and that if we did that we would inevitably have our own momentum, thereby giving ourselves the best opportunity to win. Right now, we must focus on West Ham and nothing else. We have begun a confidence-boosting, momentum-gaining League run and NOTHING is more important, for both the League and Champions League, than keeping it going and that means focusing completely on West Ham.