Centre backs are out, Robin the Prince in with a shout… it’s ours for the taking!

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The good news is that Barca have no Pique and no Puyol, big result for a striker that needs to prove himself, Nikki B. I also heard a rumour that Victor Valdes may also be missing, hmmm, that means in theory they have lost 60% of their defence.

For me our recent results have been poor, yes we are second in the league but we are being caught by the chasing pack, drawing with Sunderland was probably because some of the team were thinking about todays game, me I’ve never been a big fan of the Champions league, it’s like a cup, a lottery, it depends who turns up on the day, ask the team that played Birmingham.

It’s being called Champions every week on football focus that does it for me and the way I see it, that’s the best chance we have this season. The English Premier League.

If we win tonight fantastic, if we don’t I won’t lose sleep like I did after the Birmingham game, that hurt, it still does.

That’s it, that’s how I feel, however we have a big, big game on tonight so I will move on.

Can we win this? Yes, Will it be tight? Yes you bet, how will we win then? Well they are at home, the pressure will be on them and they will come out to play, that my friends is an Arsenal fantasy, forget we are playing an under strength Barca, pretend we are playing a team at the bottom of the EPL, like a Birmingham or a West Brom, just kidding!

We need to play them just like we did at the Grove with the exception of the respect bit, don’t allow them the time to pass it around, that gives them confidence and gets the crowd going, keep the ball and weave our own pretty patterns, if we have no Denilson and no Song we take out the players that give the ball away, yes I know we’ll have Diaby but if we play him further forward and ask him to make a 6 yard pass and on occasion a shot, then we could just do it, remember if they don’t get the ball, they can’t hurt us.

So who will play? This is my guess.

Chezzer

Sagna Koscielny Djourou Clichy

Wilshere Cesc Diaby

Nasri Bendtner Arshavin

Using Robin and Chamakh as impact subs. As you can see now, we don’t really have bench players that can change the game anymore, we have either too many players out on loan or we don’t have enough top players, you choose. This time however we have the world’s best striker, Robin Van Persie waiting!

How he came back from a minimum of 3 weeks off to this is beyond me, I’ll take it though, if only we got Vermaelen back for the run in.

The loss of Song for me is a good thing, he was hopeless against Orient at Brisbane Road, hopeless against Birmingham and a liability against Barca, he was so close to being sent off, why? Well because he’s okay against the average team but when he comes up against pace and tenacity, he goes missing. It’s not his fault, it’s just the way it is, so we have to deal with it.

Big game for Diaby, I have always rated him but he doesn’t do it enough, that’s maybe because he doesn’t play enough, who’s fault is that then Diaby? I hope he has an immense game tonight because against teams like Barca, you can have no passengers, everyone needs to be on fire or it will let the whole team down, Arsene don’t even put Denilson on the team bus.

Cesc made it clear he is only in Barca for the Arsenal and told the press to stop twisting his words, good on you skip, now in your first competitive game at the Camp Nou, yes the stadium with the dodgy name, it’s time to make your mark and show them just how good you are.

Jack, show Guardiola that you are better than his second team players and score a goal, and Arsene, strange that even Guardiola believes that whatever the result, you still have time and he doesn’t. So show him tonight, time is up!

So a  lot of people need to prove a point, time for us to show we are ready to win the Champions league and time to beat the mighty Barca in their own back yard.

Yes I know there’s a lot of time’s in there, but Pep Guardiola started it!

So no chest thumping post tonight, I’m all chest thumped out after the last one, time for you guys to show us you are good enough.

Good luck Arsenal, this is the perfect time to let the world know you are real men with top players and kids no longer.

Have a great day Grovers, it doesn’t get better than this, Barca at the Camp Nou in the Champions league, I can’t wait!

P.S. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter @LeGrove!

1,907 Responses to “Centre backs are out, Robin the Prince in with a shout… it’s ours for the taking!”

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  1. Savage

    Djourou with the first by the way, from a freekick after Wilshere got hacked down, Barca defence exposed by aerial threat.

  2. LAzer

    great setup.

    The world is looking forward to this. Same sentiments here, go out and play our game. Result not really important. Lets leave our balls hanging out and let em know we came to play from the off.

  3. Savage

    Really pleased to have Sagna back tonight, one of my favourite Arsenal players. I do wonder if there’s any Arsenal player that is as consistent as Bak – how often does he have a bad game? Anyone?

  4. GoonerC

    How can you think Song being out is a good thing!? I agree he’s been off form recently but he’s by far our best DM and we need him tonight. Diaby can be good as an attacking midfielder (sometimes) but never as a DM, he is too lazy and holds on to the ball for too long. Song’s been one of our most consistent performers this season, even against the better teams (Chelsea and Man City – no one played well against United).

  5. wattsy65

    2-1 Arsenal and on we go, perfectly possible with them missing top defenders. Playing Nikki will be a mistake, he’s not good enough to lead the line. Play Chamach ( can never spell his name ) much more mobile and will help out in defence, otherwise as you have suggested.

    Jack has recovered from his knock,he’s English and tough as old boots, plus he’s a warrior,loves the shirt, and would not miss the Nou Camp for anything, oh for 11 Jacks tonight.

    Hoping for a great night, already suffering from PMT, luckily my missus has a busy day planned, so time will fly.

  6. melvyn

    you are so right about Song so wrong about Bendtner – if RVP doesn’t start it should be Chamakh – he offers far more as a team player.

    I would prefer Gibbs to Diaby but it really depends which Diaby turns up !

    Betfair offer 7/1 Arsenal win draw no bet – having won at 3/1 on Arsenal in first leg I will take that in 2nd leg providing Denilson or NB52 dont start.

  7. Savage

    GoonerC, agreed, but the real reason we’ll miss Song is that we don’t have an obvious replacement. I would like Jack to do that role, but Wenger has already said he won’t. Diaby won’t be a bad replacement though, especially since Barca is not a big team and won’t enjoy a bit of physical presence.

  8. Savage

    WW, you mean the CC final? Maybe, but it wasn’t the main reason. Still, would you agree that he’s one of our most consistent players?

  9. Albo

    Totally agree with your assessment of the Champions League in general. Would far rather win the league. I just hope we don’t risk Cesc or RvP and then have them out for the final 10 games of the Premiership.

    That said, wish we had Theo tonight. He’d wreak havoc with their high line on the counter…

  10. Clearview gunner

    Great post Geoff. I wasn’t excited at all about the game but my optimism is rising by the hour.
    Good team selection,and I hope diaby proves us all wrong and Plays a blinder. Hope we don’t sit back and try and absorb pressure for the first hour, we need to start hard and fast, come out of the blocks with passion and verve.
    Time now for AA to step up and give us the game of his life.
    Prove us wrong arsenal, the blip is over and WE ARE BACK.

  11. Sabeel

    good post geoff

    I wont be surprised if the score is 0-0,as wenger will go out and defend his advantage….only counterattack for us

    Most likely today is going to be a draw,as they dont have there CBs..which means we progress…i hope so

  12. bernard (bade the gooner)

    Morning grovers, top post as usual before big games that we are gonna deliver the goods….
    Do we all feel optimism today, or is it just me? :)
    Let’s be honest, we are standing tonight in a far better position initially than we were last year.
    We are 2-1 up from the 1st leg. Last year it was 2-2.
    Apart from theo & song, we have fully fit squad (vermaelen not considered due to his absence since early season). We have our best 5 at the back. We have jack & cesc in the middle of the park (hope diaby & not denilson will partner them). Arshavin as theo sub is the best you could ever think of. He is magical & can finish them with one of his remarkable shots/runs. We might have RVP also fit, even if he plays 30 minutes at the end it would be enough to damage them.
    In the other hand, they are playing without 2 key players, krusty & shakira’s boyfriend. They are playing 2 important players out of position to cover their defence. So they are losing this way also bosquests & abidal. For arsenal maxuell & mascherano are far convenient options.
    So all things point we should & would go through this, logically.
    Most important, not to concede in the first half, surely the first 30 minutes. Go out of that without conceding & you could see one of jack’s/cesc’s magic passes finding either nasri or arshavin to burst onto barca’s scrappy defence & in to the back of the net!!!
    If we managed to score last year, we surely will score this time. What we indeed need is that 5 goal game will split differently, say 3-2 to either team, doesn’t matter.

  13. Stevie

    Diaby on a good day is better than Song on a good day, the problem is that Diaby doesnt have many good days…..

  14. Walking Wounded

    Give Ramsay the first hour, with the remit to run his ‘nads off and then replace with Diaby, when we are still ahead (hopefully further) in the tie, then Diaby can hold onto the ball too long and slow play up.

    We win tonight if we score, we won’t be able to keep a clean sheet. If we score they need three to win. If they need three, we have a chance to score two, then we are in the realms of going through, but what we have to do is convert our chances. We will get 4 decent chances in the match. Be clinical, then we can knock Tottenham out in the next round.

  15. Sabeel

    We always score goals mashallah…

    The Most Important thing today is ONLY ONE THING -> Defend Well…That is IT..and we win the tie…

  16. gazzap

    Wenger will pick between Den and Diaby – have given up on hoping for Rambo now. I think he’ll go for Den and the fans will groan when they see the team sheet. and of course he will cost us the game.

    I back Gibbs playing in a Bale left hand side attacking role. I think they are similar players. but wenger wont do that either.

  17. Pret Sam

    Fucking HAVE IT Arsenal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Tonight, we go through, Cesc and RvP will be instrumental and we will beat them in their own back yard.

    FACT!

  18. patthegooner

    Not sure why as the odds are against us, but I have a good feeling about tonight.

    I think we will score first and it will finish either 2-2 or 3-2 to Barca with us going through on away goals.

  19. Walking Wounded

    my bad – bnsb.

    Just looking at the League table on the right (under Yosemite Sam) – in 4 games (5 for others)

    We have increased our lead over Tottenham, Chelsea and Man City by 1 point, and reduced our defecit to Utd by 2 points and have an extra game in hand.

    Come on people, CC aside, we are doing enough, to win this title. We just could do more then enough

  20. Sabeel

    bnsb

    Just wish arshavin,Nasri back track and help our fullbacks in defending….walcott did a god job a that at emirates against them

  21. Jimmythegun

    Mornin all,

    I got torn a new one on here the other day for a knee-jerk criticism of certain posters negativity in the build up to the Sunderland game – turns out those people were right to be pesermistic(!)although I thought we were great second half and supremely unluckly!

    I want to reiterate that it wasn’t a criticsm of the post, the blog or any particular individual, but it’s great to see the optimism today – we are Arsenal, we have some issues but we can beat anyone and the boys need our support tonight!

    Oh to, oh to be, oh to be a…

  22. bnsb

    Sabeel,
    Nasri does tack back, Arshavin rarely. What we can hope from Arshavin is magic assist or magic goal.

  23. gambon

    Hahaha

    Guardiola absolutely mugged Wenger off last night.

    “Wilshere is lucky hes at Arsenal, a team where there are no expectations”

    LOL

  24. Man

    I think we’ll go through tonight.

    I’m not so sure they are that under-strength…they have Abidal (who has been great at CB this season) and Busquets as their two CBs.

    I agree with you Geoff that RvP should start this match on the bench. Chamakh is the kind of hard working team player we need for this one. We might have to bench Arshavin then. Bringing on RvP and Arshavin with 30 mins to go should give us a strong finish to the match.

    Guardiola must be very worried playing us judging by the comments he is coming out with…we have players like Wilshere in our second team, Wenger has no pressure to win trophies blah blah blah…

  25. Sabeel

    gambon

    whatever gaurdiola says,Fact is Wilshere is Good and doesnt take ‘No expectations’ for granted…That is why he deserves to be in the team.

  26. Pret Sam

    My flight leaves shortly,I have a feeling i am going to witness a momentous victory for the Arsenal tonight, come on Arsenal, lets smash these dirty inbred catalan cunts!!! 8O

  27. Sabeel

    and if there are more wilsheres in Barca B team,it is there problem, It is There problem they are NOT playing them in there first team…..

    Gaurdiola is such a mug that he compares wilshere with his B team,when in fact none of those B team players have proved as wilshere has….

  28. MoW

    i’m really calm about this one.

    no nerves. no drama.

    maybe it’s because my head tells me it’s better to go out now, and focus on the domestic double. and partly because we’re shit anyway. so i think i’m in a bit of a win-win situation. quite relaxed on how this one goes.

    nice.

  29. alfie

    Gaurdiola has kind of let himself down a bit with his comments, I always respected the guy but those kind of things make him sound like a prick….

  30. Jimmythegun

    Gambon – Pep conducts himself very well in front of the press.

    Might have had more impact if Jack hadn’t schooled his world cup winning midfield in the first leg though! :-)

  31. Sabeel

    Gaurdiola is such a mug that he compares wilshere with his B team,when in fact none of those B team players have proved as wilshere has……as wilshere has proved his quality by playing against Top quality teams like Manure,chavs(yuk) etc etc

  32. kc

    At least in the CL a foul is a foul no matter who ya are. The officiating in the Premier League is questionable at best. If we can knockout Barca we can win this whole thing!

  33. Bengali Gunner

    The key is the first half, if we go in at 0-0 they might be forced to play a more open game and we can try hit them on the counter when the spaces pop up

    Im thinkin of

    Chesney
    Sagna JD Kos Clichy
    Diaby Wilshere
    Eboue Cesc Nasri
    Chamack

  34. gambon

    Sabeel

    I think it just suggests that Jack isnt good enough to get in their first XI, which he isnt.

    He is currently a long way from Xavi & Iniesta.

  35. bnsb

    If we can knockout Barca we can win this whole thing!

    We knock out barca, we knock them out, end of. Too early to say we can win the CL.

  36. Man

    Even if Valdes plays, I’d say 4 out of our back 5 is better than theirs. It’s the other 6 that is the problem but our barca B team player, Wilshere, showed up their first team players last time round so I expect more of the same this time round.

  37. Pret Sam

    gambon says:
    March 8, 2011 at 09:54
    Sabeel

    I think it just suggests that Jack isnt good enough to get in their first XI, which he isnt.

    He is currently a long way from Xavi & Iniesta.

    Give the kid a chance, he’s barely played half a season in the PL!

  38. Sabeel

    gambon

    IMO,It is just gaurdiola`s assumption,he can never know until he plays guys like wilshere in his first team.

    Barca for me STILL is a ONE MAN Team..Remove Messi`s 43 goals + 30 assists,they are screwed

  39. Albo

    I love the way guys on here assume they know whether Ramsey is ready better than the people who actually see him in training everyday.

  40. bnsb

    We will win if “we play true to our principles” “without fear” and “without hand brakes on”. Missed anything?

  41. Honest Bill

    Guardiola is just trying to wind the boys up as he’s scared we’ll beat them again. He’d love nothing more than for Wilshere to lose his head tonight and go all out attack trying to prove a point.

    It won’t appen though. Jack is first to every ball and very difficult to dispossess. Just the kind of player Guardiola doesn’t want to play against

  42. alfie

    I agree with Sabeel re Messi…… obviously the other components help in the cog but he is the main drive

  43. realistic arsenal fan

    We will lose sorry to tell you but you cant beat Barcelona with a player like Diaby or Denilson holding the midfield.

    Mark my words we will lose but not in shame.

  44. Sabeel

    bnsb

    Defense is all in my mind yar,done say “forget defense”..

    Only if we defend well,only then we can make that goal we score COUNT

  45. alfie

    I will be watching the game with the lights off, curtains closed on my own!!! Missus locked in the cellar…. ;-)

  46. gurkhaligunner

    i think to win this we have to jam the midfield and bully them like fat sam used to do against us..

  47. Albo

    Thought Guardiola was pretty snide in the whole Wilshere section of the press conference. ‘We have many players like him in our second team’. Why were you bothering chasing after Cesc then?!

  48. Franchise

    The press are silly

    Twisting Guardiola’s comments

    “Wilshere is a top player. He has been a big surprise,” admitted Guardiola.

    “I did not know him at the beginning of the season but he is an excellent player, not just Arsenal but also for the [English] national team.

    “We have many players like him in our second team and it is very good news for football to have players like him.”

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/guardiola-wilshere-has-been-a-big-surprise

  49. Man

    True HB, I think Guardiola has identified Wilshere as the main threat and he is trying to destabilise him! Poor attempt though.

  50. gambon

    I also love the way everyones crying over Peps comments, when he was praising Wilshere.

    AKBs need to have an enemy.

  51. bnsb

    Sabeel

    We must take our half chances and score. Many a times our forwards have let us down when it mattered most.

  52. kenyangooner

    morning grovers.do you guys know how rvp has made a quick recovery? read wrighty7′s blog last thursday. uri geller, the psychic had asked gooners to rub rvp’s knee in the picture(i did!) and that the positive energy will be transmitted and help him heal. it worked!! looking fwd to tonight.

  53. Man

    From that excerpt no one is twisting Guardiola’s words Franchise. I actually watched Guadiola’s answers on the BBC website. he went on to say that Arsenal can afford to play Wilshere because Wenger does have the pressure to win trophies…a bit like what Mourinho used to say.

    Whilst that might be the case, it is simply undermining for another manager to make such comments about another. The terms of Wenger’s employment is for the Arsenal board to set out and Wenger to meet.

  54. Wenger the liar

    Couple of points:

    1. Wilshire is lucky to play at a club with no expectations, if he didnt he would not get as much game time.

    2. Barcelona probably do have 5 players with the same style as Wilshire in their B team, what else would you expect?

    3. Just because something is true doesnt mean that you have to say it, I doubt when Peps wife asks about the size of her arse he gives an honest answer.

    4. When all is said and done Pep hasnt lied and he has said what he believes is in the best interest of his club.

  55. Sabeel

    bnsb

    I dont have much faith,we r gonna score with half chances,especially our woeful finishing we have seen…we should have scored 150 goals by now i feel

  56. azed

    Bengali Gunner
    Are u sure u want Arsenal to win???
    Eboue in the starting line up?? Eboue and Denishite should stay at the hotel and watch the teams luggage

  57. Albo

    Nah Franchise. Guardiola knew he was throwing a bit of a dig, even if his general point was to praise him.

  58. bnsb

    I dont have much faith,we r gonna score with half chances,especially our woeful finishing we have seen

    Thats the point, many here only worry about defense (not to say its been outstanding)

  59. Joppa

    Morning all,

    Hope he doesn’t play Bendtner – he’s not good enough.

    Pep actually made some good points although he is sounding a little rattled to me.

    Arsenal can be more than a match tonight. Wilshere to reign supreme.

  60. Man

    Oh he’s a great player but we have 5 similar players in our B team…

    Oh he’s a great player but he is only playing ‘cos the team doesn’t need to win trophies…

    Talk about about backhanded compliments or will that be to damn with faint praise

  61. Hussain

    I would play Chamakh from the start, have Fabregas Wilshere and Nasri in the middle, Arshavin and Bendtner on the wings and Chamakh in the middle! Create havoc on set pieces!

  62. sixx pac

    Good post. I don’t think that its even remotely possible that the score is nil all today. We need to score first, take away their advantage and have them chase the game.

    I still believe that Denilson is better suited for this game than Abou but that’s just me. Probably my mind is still clouded by the fact that last April we had a great chance to go 2-0 up at the Nou Camp and instead of passing to Walcott the idiot passed to Bendtner who was not expecting it.

  63. Hussain

    Wenger is doing a Fergie these days though, Surprise recovery by Nasri for the first leg, by RVP for the return, wouldn’t be surprised to see Theo on for 30 minutes at OT!

  64. alfie

    Nani is a 1st class plum, he has an air of arrogance which is really sickening. Oh and he cried in front of millions of people…….

  65. Franchise

    What pep said about wilshere and arsenal is a fact. How else can u explain a 22 yr old denilson making 150apps?

    Other top teams don’t blood youngsters like we do because there is more pressure to deliver trophies

    Wilshere wouldn’t have made our 1st team between 00-04

  66. Hussain

    I agree Sabeel, Kozzer has an eye for a goal on set pieces, so has DJ and we all now how good Chamakh can be there, so lets use what we have and give RVP a good time out when he comes on the pitch with hopefully nothing to worry about! Arshavin and Fabregas hold the key! we will win if even one them has a blinder!

  67. ZARgooner

    Chamakh must start…. his champions league record is quite good…. adds a defensive element as well

  68. Sabeel

    If Gaurdiola had compared denilson,he would be bang on target

    To compare Wilshere`s(who has already played and excelled against top opposition) to his BarcaB team,who cant get a game against relegation fodder os la-liga,Just proves gaurdiola is a Mug.

  69. Joppa

    Agree Franchise, although I did feel Pep sounded a little worried which though he is stating facts is good news for us.

    Must say I was a little surprised to see Pep talking like this, he must be genuinely worried this time around.

    As for Barca having their centre backs out, wasn’t this the case from them last year as well? Didn’t seem to make much of a difference then.

    That comment from Bendter – a real team player then?

  70. alfie

    Franchise, its not a fact, its an opinion. I personally rate Jacks peformances this season better than Xavi’s ( i watch a lot of spanish football) but the point is its a demeaning remark on the eve of the game, it just come across very underhand regardless.

  71. Franchise

    Wilshere is a top player but he wouldnt get the kind of opportunity to play weekly at other top clubs

    He still has a lot to learn. Polish a few rough edges here and there. Add the goals and assists to his game. Thing u could tell he was going to be much better than denilson after watching him once

  72. gambon

    So, exactly what was said that was soooo bad???…

    - Wilshere is a top player

    Dont we all agree on this?

    - I didnt know him at the start of the season

    Erm, this is 100% believable

    - We have players like him in our second team

    Is this so unbelieveable. He wasnt talking about quality, he was talking about the type of player.

    - There is no pressure to win at Arsenal

    We all know this to be 100% true. 3rd place is a trophy according to Wenger, not any other manager.

    As I said….AKBs always need an enemy, when they arent obsessing over Man U, Fergie, Refs, Linesmen, The FA, Sky, UEFA

  73. gambon

    Jack is nowhere near Xavi at present, absolutely nowhere near.

    Even at the emirates Xavi absolutely run the game.

  74. Joppa

    Spot on Gambon until Wenger proves otherwise.

    Fact that trophies are not of top importance at Arsenal.

    Fact: AKBs are obsessed with making excuses.

  75. Joppa

    We did a little lucky in the first leg IMO. There were times when we were close to being completely over run. But hey you need luck. Just look at those c**ts Man U in 99.

  76. Hussain

    Stop it about Wilshere and Pep already! its the game that counts for everything, let the boys on the pitch prove him wrong rather than us doing it here!