Arsenal vs. Barcelona Emirates Stadium, London, England 2:45 PM EST Wednesday March 31, 2010
by Jason Green at Predictem.com
Match Odds: Arsenal 3.20 / Barcelona 2.40 / Draw 3.10
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Moneyline: Arsenal +210 / Barcelona +120 / Draw +230
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On Wednesday night in London in the 1st leg of the quarterfinals in the Champions League Arsenal hosts defending champion Barcelona. This is a match that has been very highly anticipated, as Arsenal plays a fluent and attacking style of soccer and Barcelona is a high scoring team with a few of the best players in the world.
Since Arsenal played to a draw in their Premier League match they will likely not catch Manchester United or Chelsea for the domestic crown, but they can still win the coveted Champions League title. The Gunners come into this home match with confidence, as the last time they played at home in the Champions League they laid a 5-0 beat down on FC Porto in the 2nd leg of the knockout phase round.
While Arsenal is a solid team they have yet to beat an elite team in the Premier League or in the Champions League, but that can all change if they can beat Barcelona.
Barcelona has had a tougher time this season in the Champions League and they are currently fighting with Real Madrid for the La Liga title. Barca played to a draw in Germany playing Stuttgart and needed a fantastic 4-0 win at home to progress to the quarterfinals.
Arsenal is known for their offense, but they will have to thwart a Barcelona attack that has, perhaps, the best player in the world in Lionel Messi and world class striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
This season in Spain’s La Liga Barcelona has scored 71 goals and given up 16 and in England’s Premier League Arsenal has scored 74 goals and given up 34.
Arsenal Recent Form:
3/27/2010 Birmingham City 1 Arsenal 1(Premier League)
3/20/2010 Arsenal 2 West Ham Utd. 0 (Premier League)
3/13/2010 Hull City 1 Arsenal 2 (Premier League)
3/9/2010 Arsenal 5 FC Porto 0 (Champions League)
3/6/2010 Arsenal 3 Burnley 1 (Premier League)
Barcelona Recent Form:
3/27/2010 Barcelona 1 Mallorca 0 (La Liga)
3/24/2010 Barcelona 2 Osasuna 0 (La Liga)
3/21/2010 Zaragoza 2 Barcelona 4 (La Liga)
3/17/2010 Barcelona 4 Stuttgart 0 (Champions League)
3/14/2010 Barcelona 3 Valencia 0 (La Liga)
The big news for Arsenal in this match is the availability of Fabregas and Abou Diaby. Both may be deemed match fit and will be available, but neither will likely be 100%. Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs, Johan Djourou and Robin van Persie are all out for this match due to long-term injuries.
For Barcelona they will probably be without Andres Iniesta due to a minor injury and Dmytro Chygrynskiy is suspended for this match and will not play. Eric Abidal is available for this match, but will probably not play because of an injury and defender Gerard Pique is also doubtful with an injury.
Barcelona’s defense has been solid over the past few weeks, as they have only given up 2 goals in their last 5 matches. However, do not expect them to keep a clean sheet against a solid Arsenal offense, especially since the match is in London.
The Arsenal defense has also been solid, only allowing 3 goals in their last 5 matches, but a huge mistake by goalie Manuel Almunia cost them 2 points in their draw against Birmingham City this last weekend. Almunia can redeem himself in this match, but I expect that Barcelona will score at least 2 goals on him.
Since Arsenal plays a fluent game Barcelona can slow them down by controlling the midfield, which I see them doing in this match.
Barcelona has a great defense, but they may really miss the services of the injured Gerard Pique, who tends to come up huge in big matches.
Jason’s Pick to Win: I think that Barcelona is simply too talented for Arsenal to deal with and Messi just seems to come up bigger and bigger in every match. Arsenal will make this a competitive game, but Barcelona will have more chances to score and what is more important is that they will take advantage of those chances. I see Barca coming out strong and winning this game by a score of 2-1 or 3-1.