You could almost hear the collective groan from Arsenal supporters yesterday morning when former Inter Milan defensive midfielder Javier Zanetti opened the ball to reveal that Arsenal were to play Barcelona in the Champions League last-16.
We were all hoping to get the weakest side in the Gunners group Zenit St Petersburg, when the draw was made yesterday morning at FIFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, but were disappointed after being picked to play the team many people consider to be the competitions favourites.
Arsenal fans have a right to be worried if past meetings between the two clubs are anything to go by with Barcelona eliminating Arsene Wenger’s team from the competition in 2010 and again in 2011, plus who can forget the 2006 final at the Stade de France in Paris when Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann saw red and the thundering header from Sol Campbell to give the Gunners the lead. Two late goals from Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti unfortunately gave Frank Rijkaard’s team the win.
Following the draw, Arsenal club secretary David Miles tried to put on a brave face telling the Daily Express: “If you ask Arsenal fans, this is probably the tie we least wanted against Barcelona. The last few times we’ve played them they’ve always had the upper hand, so maybe this is the right time to turn the tables and beat them.
“We have a few injured players, so if we can get those back and play them with a full-strength Arsenal side we’ve got some world-class players of our own and I’m hoping we’ll put on a very good show in the two legs.”
Let’s hope that Miles is right and that the Gunners can not only put on a good show but come away with a victory.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has the chance to bring in a player or two before the teams meet at the Emirates for the first-leg match on February 23rd and from what we have seen of Barcelona and the way they play in the Spanish league, the best way to beat them is to try and put a stop to the fast passing game, as just like Arsenal, they prefer to try and walk the ball into the net.