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.


  1. Dgob

    March 20, 2010 at 4:55 am

    Unarguably on the money. My fingers are still tightly crossed and I believe (given that both teams are weaker defending than attacking) the battle could come down to “who dominates midfield”. If that is the case, Song and Diaby need the games of their lives in breaking up and feeding our more creative players.

    I wholly believe that they could dominate Yaya Toure and therein provide us the possession we will need for a win. Simply put, boht teams are great at keeping possession. Whoever has most will win.

    I believe, hope and pray it will be US.


  2. Empress

    March 20, 2010 at 6:44 am

    “At this stage of the competition, you cannot get around playing the best clubs.”

    Unless you’re Manchester United.

    • ArsenalStation

      March 20, 2010 at 9:22 am

      Of course. 😉 That goes unsaid. Somehow they always get the most favorable draws. Domestically, too.

  3. Abey

    March 20, 2010 at 7:09 am

    if al our players fully fit&d lik of fab,ver,song,ashavin,nasri etc stay fit.den realy blieve we wil carry d day against dis so called barca team.keep d faith.gunner stil i die.

    • ArsenalStation

      March 20, 2010 at 9:26 am

      That’s a big issue. I would feel really confident if we had a fit van Persie and Gallas. However, there dozens of questions raised by this tie anyway:

      Can Bendtner lead the line past Barcelona into the Semifinals?
      Can Sol Campbell be intelligent enough to not get into one-on-one foot races with damn near everyone in the Barca side?
      Can Almunia show even the slightest authority in and around the six-yard box?
      Can Song and Diaby put enough pressure on Xavi and Iniesta?
      Can Arshavin continue his return to form and get it back completely at just the right time?
      Can Arsenal keep the clean sheet at home that is almost necessary to go through?

      • Daxxjoker

        March 20, 2010 at 6:29 pm

        I will answer these questions for you.

  4. kaycee

    March 20, 2010 at 9:51 am

    hmm! as at this time yesterday i was sober. i couldn’t accept the reality, i couldn’t imagine the possibility of the odds… but today,i find myself in a “go gunners” spirit. suddenly am beginning to see an arsenal vs manu finals, i said to myself, “what the heck” what makes barca better than us? their forest of trophies i guessed! then i thought of the top world class players they’ve got, and then the destructive merciless kid (mercy) the striking defeats to chelsea and utd recently did not help my thought either, but still “what the heck” i rem seasons ago in dsame competition, it was us against a famous milan and everyone as ussual wrote us off. millan were lucky adebayor’s injury time header was denied by d crossbar to have earned them a draw at emirates. we went to san siro the famous anti-english ground and broke the history spell burried against english clubs by winning 2-0. the first eng club to win at san siro since d inauguration of d club. i know arsenal is full of suprises, whats more we’ve grew in confidence and our maturity has increased tremendiously. i believe we can do it i believe we can shot d slots of our critics by pulling a famous triumph against the world’s best. determination is d key (not stopping messi) the arsenal team must be ready for a mass-attack/mass defence strategy, where the whole 11 returns to defend after loosing the ball. we must stop them from counter attacking as much as possible, we did it against astonvilla and tottenham in d league. we can also do it against BARCA……… bring it on guys… cant wait!!!!

  5. Ted Harwood

    March 22, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Having just watched Messi eat the Zaragoza defense alive, I have to say, um, yikes. There’s no way Sol, Or Gallas, or TV5, or anyone could stop him alone. The entire defense is going to have to step up and work as a unit. He’s almost unstoppable, but lesser teams than Arsenal have held Barca this year…their defense often looks as shaky as ours. They let Zaragoza come back to 3-2 yesterday in fine shaky fashion until Messi danced on everyone’s faces and won a PK in the dying moments.

    I dunno. I think we can hold him, and if not, we’ll just score a bunch too. Win or lose, I’m just looking forward to hopefully the best football match that any of us have seen in a long time.

  6. peter

    March 25, 2010 at 6:10 am


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