Arsenal v Barcelona: What are the odds?


“We have not considered the prospect of elimination even after the first leg defeat against Arsenal.”

“We remain confident of progressing. Obviously we were bitterly disappointed to lose the first leg at the Emirates and felt we created more than enough chances to win the game. But it will be a different story in Spain. I’m not sure Arsenal are a side who can play to defend – and that will leave them very open.”

– Lionel Messi, in regards to the second leg of Barcelona’s Champion’s League clash with Arsenal.

Strong words spoken with a level of confidence becoming of the world’s number one footballer. Even if his words aren’t quite the kind of thing that the Arsenal coaching staff might consider pinning-up upon the dressing-room wall in an attempt to rally the troops, they may be enough to hit a nerve within some in the Gunner’s camp.

Does anybody really give Arsenal a chance? Any tendency towards optimism is easily derailed by the memory that last time these two sides met at the Nou Camp, Barcelona thumped the Gunners 4-0 (Messi, in this case, the architect of Arsenal’s downfall).

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The fact that the Gunner’s grabbed a win against Barcelona in the first leg has done little to placate the pundits, the majority of whom expect the Catalan side to see their way through into the next round of the Champion’s League.

But are Arsenal’s chances really that bleak? If the Gunner’s can ask questions of Barcelona’s makeshift defence and showcase their more professional, clinical side, anything can happen. Carlos Puyol has been ruled out, having failed to make a full recovery from a troublesome knee injury. Gerard Pique is suspended and will not feature.

Counter this with the news that both Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie are likely to play. The real loss for the Gunners is Alex Song, who won’t feature as a result of his own knee injury. In turn Wilshere’s role in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield becomes even more vital. Never one to shy from a big occasion, expect young Jack to shine.

Great odds: Jack Wilshere is rated at 28/1 to score first and 8/1 to score anytime.

Good odds: Arsenal victory – 8/1. Arsenal qualification – 9/4.

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