Yesterday afternoon I was going about my business and I suddenly realised that we had Barcelona tonight. For some reason I had blanked this fixture out of my mind, it's probably some sort of defensive mechanism I have built into my brain or something. The chances of us going through are so slim that I thought about sticking a few quick on onlinewedden.com just to soften the blow of any likely defeat.
It kinda feels like we are being chained up, put into a Straitjacket and dumped into a pool of water with the aim of escaping but in this case, we have never trained to get out of this before. Ok, so that sounded better in my head than it looks on screen but you catch my drift.
As mad as it sounds, had results gone our way from the first leg until now and we were sat pretty on top of the table, I would be feel kinda positive tonight but that's the other part of my split personality, that is the overly optimistic side.
I watched Arsène's pre match press conference and he mentioned that we have won everywhere in Europe except Barcelona and it got me dreaming about Arsène's ideal scenario tonight.
The Wenger Way
Arsène would love to go to the Nou Camp after being under huge pressure and give his players the freedom to play 'the game we love to play'
Arsenal would get on the ball and move it around at speed, matching and even dominating Barcelona on the possession stakes. Working as a unit defensively to snuff out Messi, Neymar and Suarez and create enough chances (which we decide to take this time) to win the game.
We did this at Real Madrid and one of my favourite Arsenal performances of all time at AC Milan, when the Italians were one of the best in Europe.
Chances of this happening?: Haha! I did say I was dreaming right? Basically nobody goes to Barcelona and dominates the game because that is what Barcelona are. Only a handful of teams have had more of the ball than Barcelona, let alone gone on to win the game in that way, especially at their gaff. Beating Barcelona wouldn't quite be a miracle but beating them at their own game in Barcelona would.
The Tactical Plan
Perhaps not Arsène's ideal choice but certainly his most realistic approach. We have seen it a number of times against Pep Guardiola's teams in the past, including our 2-0 victory against Bayern Munich this season.
I imagine we are going to sit behind the ball when we don't have it and work hard to block off the half spaces that Barcelona love so much. We did this wonderful well for 60+ minutes at home against Barcelona and I imagine Arsène will want a repeat performance but this time for the full 90 minutes.
The idea is usually to wait until they tire before sending on the likes of Theo Walcott for Joel Campbell and go for the juggernaut in the final 20 minutes
Chances of this happening?: Perhaps one 'Ha!' instead of two. If we had maintained our discipline in the first leg and went into the game all level or perhaps even one goal down we would have a slim chance but having to win by three goals without letting Barcelona score more than one? Well...
Anyway what of the team selection tonight?
It's safe to say that Danny Welbeck will be the man to spearhead the team in place of Oliver Giroud. Right? agree? I mean we need some pace on the break and he is the only man in some sort of goalscoring form, unless the goal is open of course *tear rolls down cheek*
Laurent Koscielny will come into the team. Will it be in place of Gabriel or Mertesacker? That is an interesting one. I don't think Gabriel is currently in his best form at present but his pace could be require in a game in which we need to look for goals at some point, so it might require us to play a little higher at points during the game.
Bellerin and Monreal are likely to come back into the team also I'd imagine, unless Gibbs is preferred over Monreal for the same reason Gabriel might start.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
Ok so I don't have much in the way of optimism about us getting through, not a lot of us do. Thumbs up to those of you who do by the way. What I would love to see is a big performance from us because while we have a slim chance of the Premier League, we need to go for it and quickly as time is running (or run) out.
I thought the home leg performance would have given us some belief but that did not materialise, we need to kick on starting from tonight even if the end result isn't what we want.
But this is football and all that good stuff.