Despite some impressive results against German giants Bayern Munich, fans would have been relieved to have finally drawn a different opponent, if only their next Champions League rival didn’t happen to be treble winners FC Barcelona.
Arsenal have faced the Catalonians seven times in the competition, winning just once, and fans will still remember the 2006 where Arsene Wenger’s side lost 2-1 to Frank Rijkaard’s outfit in the Stade de France.
While many are quick to dispel any notion that Arsenal can emerge victorious from the two encounters, and many punters would rather put their money on something as ridiculous as eSports, the Gunners are not out the running yet, as the old cliché goes, a lot can happen in 90 minutes, and even more could happen over 180.
Only Manchester United have conceded less goals in the Premier League, and Arsenal’s back four has, despite injuries, performed admirably so far this season. After a shaky start to their Champions League campaign, losing away to Dinamo Zagreb the Gunners won three games and finished 2nd on goal difference, registering an impressive home win against Bayern Munich.
With injured stars returning to the side and Mesut Ozil in fine form the Gunners have displayed a level of consistency this season that fans have been long awaiting.
Arsenal have yet to claim a Champions League trophy, and toppling the holders would be the perfect way to keep the dream alive.
Barcelona will not be easy, while a home win is likely, considering how Arsenal performed there against Bayern Munich. However, the Camp Nou will be a daunting place to play. Many expected the Catalans to struggle this season, considering their injury list and triumphs last season, but it has not been the case.
With an absent Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez have stepped up, terrorising European and domestic defences alike, and the Argentinean is back on the team sheet, meaning Mertesacker and Koscielny will have to keep out what is arguably the most menacing strike force in football.