Arsenal will have hands full in Nou Camp

Arsenal fans and all the Premier League campaigners, who went hysterical after the Gunners win over Barcelona in midweek, may not like this fact but, betting odds still favour the Catalan side, not only to overturn the 2-1 deficit from the first leg, but also to go all the way to the title.The Spanish league champions were beaten by Arsenal on Wednesday night but bookies still think they are the team to beat in the competition and that they will progress with a win at the Nou Camp in just under three weeks time.

Arsenal fans and all the Premier League campaigners, who went hysterical after the Gunners win over Barcelona in midweek, may not like this fact but, betting odds still favour the Catalan side, not only to overturn the 2-1 deficit from the first leg, but also to go all the way to the title.

The Spanish league champions were beaten by Arsenal on Wednesday night but bookies still think they are the team to beat in the competition and that they will progress with a win at the Nou Camp in just under three weeks time.

For the second year running, Arsenal scored twice late in their home meeting against Barcelona to come from behind to get something out of a game they could have lost in the first 45 minutes.

Last year, when the two sides met in the quarterfinals, the first leg game ended in a 2-all draw but this year, they did what they had never done before, which is to beat Barca, a result that leaves them heading to the Nou Camp with the upper hand, unfortunately they remain outsiders to progress to the quarter-finals.

After the surprising, but at the same time deserved win, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was quick to emphasize that Barca are still favourites to go through despite his side’s advantage and few would disagree.

Wenger’s team has not won any trophy since lifting the FA Cup in 2005 but that draught could be about to come to an end this season, especially now that they have a Curling Cup final to contest against Birmingham, they’re still in the FA Cup and are still in the race for the Premier League title—plus, of course, the Champions League.

However, with the Champions League, a competition Arsenal and Wenger have not won, they have a tall order to even reach the last eight. The London club will have to shut out Barcelona’s attacking threat or else they could get yet another thrashing at Camp Nou. [Anyone remember last year’s return leg result?]

Pep Guardiola’s team has won seven successive home games in the Champions League, each by scorelines that would see them recover the 2-1 deficit, since their shock group stage loss to Rubin Kazan last season.

In all competitions, Barca have won 14 of their last 15 in front of their own fans, scoring 11 without reply in the last three, so Wenger, his players, their fans and the Premier League advocates should have every reason to fear for the worst on the night of March 8.

Arsenals’ away record in European competitions provides further testimony that another, perhaps even more gallant effort than Wednesday night’s, will be required in order for them to eliminate the team still favoured by many to lift the trophy at Wembley stadium.

Wenger’s team has lost five of their last six knockout matches on the road, and against a wounded Barcelona, who will be looking for some sort of revenge against the English side, there is a lot more than just 1-0 win to play for by the Spanish side.

nku78@yahoo.com

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