By Chris Wright
As you’re probably already aware, Arsenal travel to Barcelona in the Champions League with the express intent of preserving their 2-1 aggregate lead from the first leg three(ish) weeks ago.
Barcelona will be without first-choice centre-back pair Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, with Eric Abidal and Sergio Busquets being touted as the makeshift partnership that will be deployed in the heart of the Catalan’s defense and Javier Mascherano covering for Busquets in the deep-lying midfield role.
Arsenal have named Robin van Persie in their squad though Arsene Wenger has vowed ‘not to gamble’ on the Dutch striker if he isn’t fully fit, with Theo Walcott and Alex Song the only two certified omissions from the Gunners’ collective other than long-termers Thomas Vermaelen and Lukasz Fabianski.
Right let’s get straight down to brass tacks shall we? Time for some Grade A, 85% non-mechanically recovered predictions…
Arsenal to go one up on the break midway through the first half after chasing the ball for the first 25-or-so minutes, leaving Barca to pass away the remainder of the half without causing the Gunners too many problems.
Barcelona then pile forward as the second-half wears on and grab an equaliser with ten minutes left to play, thus setting up a fraught finale – with a wretched miss, spurned penalty claim and hitting of the post/crossbar all thrown in.
Arsenal weather the late storm with a mixture of heroic defending and seizure-inducing luck to emerge with a 3-2 aggregate victory and thus advance to the next round.
Oh, and Robin van Persie to pick up a ‘four to six weeks out’ injury at some stage of the proceedings.
Feel free to leave your predictions in the comments box below. A protracted scoreline will suffice, but brownie points will be awarded for impressively specific detail…