I have work meetings from 1-4 and 4-6 Wednesday afternoon. Why is that a problem? Simple – I’ve been flown out to the States for work, and 1-6 meetings is actually 7pm-midnight UK time. Which means I’ll be unable to catch even a second of the Barcelona tie because I’ll be stuck in a conference room.
Not good news. However, there is better news around – Gallas has been named in the squad, while Nasri, Arshavin and Diaby all trained, suggesting that all four might be available tomorrow night. The one I still have a doubt over is Gallas, especially after Wenger sung Campbell’s praises so highly.
The bad news is that Cesc did not train this morning, and despite his father’s claims to the contrary, he appears to be a serious doubt. Some would argue that even a half fit Fabregas would boost the side, but with the speed of Barca’s play I don’t think we can afford to be fielding somehow who is struggling to run, no matter how talented they are or how much they want to prove a point to their former employers. Save it for the second leg.
I’ve seen it suggested that Wenger will play a cautious and niggly game, trying to stop Barcelona’s play with underhand tactics. Frankly, I think this is a load of garbage – Wenger will relish the chance to play a ‘proper’ footballing team, and will try to prove that we do it better than they do.
He could be right, he could be wrong, but with both sides looking to attack, I imagine there will be lots of goals. For that reason, my bet of the day is for there to be over 3.5 goals, at a healthy 11/5 with Sportingbet. Those odds seem generous given the free flowing spirit of both sides – we need to take a lead to the Nou Camp, and Barcelona will be desperate for an away goal.
One thing is for sure – we need big games from our big players. Whoever partners Vermaelen at the back must be strong. Arshavin needs to track back against the most lethal right flank in the game. And when we get a chance, it must be buried.
It promises to be enormously exciting. Enjoy it, wherever you are.