UEFA Champions League: Matchday Commentary

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The most anticipated match-up of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals will take place today, with FC Barcelona taking on Arsenal (2:45pm, FSC/FSE).

Inter Milan is facing CSKA Moscow as well (2:45pm, Fox Soccer Plus), but most eyes will be trained on the Emirates Stadium, where the defending champions from Barcelona will take on the Gunners.

I will be providing commentary on today's match so please feel free to follow along here. As always, you are welcome to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action.

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FINAL- Arsenal 2, Barcelona 2. Arsenal fight back with everything they had to keep this series alive despite being thoroughly dominated for much of the match.

That's all for me. Please feel free to share your thoughts on today's match in the comments section below.

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93rd minute- Barcelona is knocking it around, looking content to hold on now.

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90th minute- What a game, everything we were hoping it would be.

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89th minute- Arsenal looked dead and buried, but Theo Walcott came on and gave Arsenal a sorely-needed boost. Barcelona will regret all the missed chances it had throughout this game.

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88th minute- Fabregas can barely jog, but he's not coming out. No more subs for Arsenal.

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87th minute- Fabregas is on the field but he's limping. If this were a video game he'd have a litle red cross under him.

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86th minute- Fabregas hurt himself on the penalty kick.

We are tied and we'll be heading to the second leg in Barcelona with both team missing key players. Arsenal will be without Fabregas, and Barcelona will be without Puyol and Pique. Wow.

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85th minute- GOAL ARSENAL!!! Fabregas converts the penalty. Arsenal 2, Barcelona 2.

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84th minute- WOW, Puyol is red carded and gives up a penalty to Cesc Fabregas. WOW.

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80th minute- Diaby gets the yellow for a foul on Keita.

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77th minute- Thierry Henry comes on for Ibrahimovic and gets a great cheer from the Arsenal fans. Always love seeing those moments of appreciation.

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76th minute- SAVE ALMUNIA. Messi races in on goal but can't get it past Almunia.

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73rd minute- Fabregas hits it over the crossbar from 25 yards out.

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72nd minute- Free kick to Arsenal and Pique gets a yellow that rules him out of the second leg. Who will take the free kick for Arsenal?

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71st minute- Arsenal has been re-energized since Walcott came in for Sagna.

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70th minute- GOAL ARSENAL, and it's Theo Walcott, who speeds into the area and beats Valdes.

Barcelona 2, Arsenal 1.

Did I just jinx Barcelona?

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64th minute- Yes, that's assuming Arsenal doesn't score two tonight, but who sees that happening?

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60th minute- Arsenal is done. Even if they score tonight, they'll need two goals in Barcelona, and without Cesc Fabregas to boot.

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59th minute- GOAL BARCELONA!!!!!! ibrahimovic with the blast and it's 2-0 Barcelona in London. This game is over and this series looks to be over.

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54th minute- SAVE VALDES!!! Saves a Bendtner header. Wow.

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53rd minute- Barcelona with a dangerous free kick from 25 yards out.

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46th minute- And just like that, Almunia comes out and get caught off his line. Ibrahimovic, who had a terrible first half, hits a beautiful chip to beat Almunia and give Barcelona a vital away goal and 1-0 lead.

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46th Minute- GOAL BARCELONA!!!! Ibrahimovic scores it, chipping it over Almunia!! Barcelona 1, Arsenal 0. Just 22 seconds into the second half. 

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HALFTIME- Will Arsenal be able to hold off Barcelona in the second half? The Gunners created some chances in the final 15-20 minutes, but continue to be dominated in possession. 

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HALFTIME- Arsenal 0, Barcelona 0. Complete control from Barcelona, but Almunia has had a career night while Ibrahimovic has been awful.

Andrei Arshavin left the match with an injury while Fabregas picked up a yellow that will force him to mess the second leg of this series. 

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45th minute- Ibrahimovic shanks the free kick about 50 yards over the bar. He's been awful today.

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44th minute- Yellow card to Cesc Fabregas, which rules him out for the return leg in Barcelona next week.

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43rd minute- Arsenal withstand some pressure despite being a man down.

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41st minute- Sol Campbell is warming up. You think Messi is drooling at that prospect?

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41st minute- William Gallas is hurt and may have to come out.

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39th minute- Arsenal free kick from distance and Valdes catches it easily.

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38th minute- Bendtner had an open look and had it saved, but he was offside anyway. He actually missed twice while the flag was up.

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37th minute- SAVE ALMUNIA, stops a Messi long-range chance.

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36th minute- Why is Bendtner on the wing instead of up top?

Barcelona with a free kick drawn by Xavi.

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35th minute- Still scoreless and Arsenal will love going in at halftime without having given up an away goal. Still 10 minutes to go though.

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33rd minute- Replays show Arshavin was injured. That would explain the early sub. That's a big blow to Arsenal's attack.

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31st minute- Arsenal is starting to find more of the ball now, but the chances aren't coming yet.

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29th minute- Not sure if there was an injury to Arshavin. He ran right to the locker room.

Barcelona keeps on pressing in the final third.

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27th minute- Wow, Emmanuel Eboue has come in for Andrei Arshavin. Talk about an early sub. Arsene Wenger had seen enough. He knows his lineup needs more defensive bite.

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23rd minute- Still scoreless if you can believe it, but here comes Arsenal.

NASRI JUST WIDE. Wow, that was close. Arsenal is starting to settle down.

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20th minute- Arsenal with a dangerous cross in, but Puyol heads it away.

Arshavin gets a yellow for a late challenge on Busquets.

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18th minute- Pique sends a header right to Almunia.

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17th minute- Bacary Sagna heads away another shot, this one from Pedro. Barcelona corner.

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16th minute- Barcelona has out-shot Arsenal 9-0 so far. Domination at the Emirates.

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15th minute- It's been target practice for Barcelona, but Almunia has been up to the task. His teammates might want to start playing though.

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14th minute- SAVE ALMUNIA!! Stops Ibrahimovic with a kick save after a beautiful sequence.

SAVE ALMUNIA!! He does it again. WOW, this guy is ON FIRE.

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13th minute- Interesting note that Arsenal has zero English players in its lineup, whereas Barcelona has Valdes, Puyol, Xavi and Pedro, along with academy product Lionel Messi.

Messi skies one from 20. Good chance there.

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11th minute- Fabregas has yet to see much of the ball. Arsenal is struggling to gain much possession early.

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9th minute- Barcelona is cutting through Arsenal at will. It's looking like, at least early on, that Arsenal can't handle Barcelona's speed and movement.

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7th minute- WOW, Ibrahimovic with a clear look that he skies over the bar. Barcelona is running rampant early on.

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6th minute- SAVE ALMUNIA!! Stops a Messi blast. Barcelona is on the attack but Almunia has stepped up today.

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3rd minute- This match is looking like it will be the wide-open affair we were all expecting.

if you're following along here please let me know in the comments section.

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2nd minute- SAVE ALMUNIA, stops a Busquets shot. Nice save.

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1st Minute- We're underway and Barcelona is already on the attack.

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PRE-GAME- Thierry Henry is on the bench today. It will be interesting to see him come on today against his former club.

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PRE-GAME-

BARCELONA

Pedro———-Ibrahimovic————Messi

————-Xavi———-Keita————–

—————-Busquets———————-

Maxwell—Puyol——Pique———–Alves

——————Valdes———————–

ARSENAL

—————Bendtner———————–

———————–Arshavin—————

Diaby—–Fabregas—–Nasri———-Song

Clichy—-Vermaelen—-Gallas——–Sagna

—————–Almunia———————-

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PRE-GAME- Cesc Fabregas will start today for Arsenal. The rest of the lineups are on the way.

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91 Responses to UEFA Champions League: Matchday Commentary

  1. Devon says:

    The only jersey worse than those yellows Barca are wearing are their horrendous neon pinks. WTF?

  2. Jorge says:

    Nice knowing you Arsenal. :-)

  3. Jorge says:

    Those yellow jerseys are ugly. I agree.

  4. Erik says:

    Arsenal wins today and Barca gets blanked.

    Arshavin and Fabregas will show Barca what they are missing.

  5. Adrian says:

    Barca is taking it to arsenal.

    Side note: Zlatan needs to go. Selfish as all heck.

  6. Adrian says:

    Arsenal is being DOMINATED.

  7. Jorge says:

    What was that, Erik? :-)

  8. Aguinaga says:

    To anyone who felt Barca were getting the better end of the deal with Ibra over Eto’o, including the Barca management – WHAT THE #$^%#$^#$ WERE YOU SMOKING??

  9. Devon says:

    Man Almunia is having the best opening 15 minutes of his life.

  10. Aaron in StL says:

    Much prefer following these games here than ESPN Gamecast.

    For the WC it would be sweet to have the set up you do on the Live Chats, especially non-weekend games.

  11. RK says:

    Barca up in shots 9-zippy

  12. MemRook says:

    Ummmmm I feel like I’m watching someone play FIFA as barcelona on novice against the CPU as Arsenal lol. It’s that lopsided! It looks like Barcelona have 12-13 players on the field right now.

  13. Sammy Gupta says:

    Arsenal is no pushover…im utterly amazed by the domination right now, given the level of talent and quality of both sides

  14. Ian Gardener says:

    Ibrahimovic stinks up this Barca side.

  15. Adrian says:

    If Ibra was Eto’o, Barca would be up by 2 or 3 by now.

  16. Aaron in StL says:

    Just give it time…Almunia will flap at something here soon.

  17. Erik says:

    I’m not watching until later but I take it that’s not a good sign… haha

    I love watching both of these teams play but I don’t like either of them. Can they knock each other out?

  18. Adrian says:

    How is that not a PK?

    Messi should have a PK.

  19. Ian Gardener says:

    Ball was already out of play?

  20. Scott says:

    Ives, Arshavin was limping around injured. That’s why he is out

  21. Aaron in StL says:

    Man, being outshot 13-1 in the first half at home is embarassing for a team like Arsenal. Lucky for them it’s still scoreless. Even if it is Barcelona, you’d imagine Arsenal would be better at home.

  22. Adrian says:

    Zlatan needs to go.

  23. dudeinho says:

    i got an pretty decent feed on my android phone. For those of you at work download the Ustream app and look for the stram that doesnt say Barca vs Arsenal itll just be an image. no sound though

  24. Charles says:

    Why is Ives 5 minutes ahead of other sites ?

    Can he predict the future ?

  25. Adrian says:

    I would be embarrassed if I was an Arsenal fan.

    Diving everywhere, nasty tackles (3 yellows already).

  26. Michael says:

    Why was Song not red carded?

  27. Adrian says:

    4 yellow cards, 1 should be red card.

    Only thing as bad as Zlatan is arsenal.

  28. Michael says:

    Oops I just realized that Song only had 1 yellow, I was keeping up with the game on soccernet and they had listed it as his second yellow…….nevermind

  29. Jorge says:

    Is this like men against boys game? :-)

  30. Ian Gardener says:

    Wouldn’t Henry be a better bet upfront than Ibra? He has truly let his teammates down today and it’s a crime if Barca don’t win this game.

  31. Adrian says:

    Henry NEEDs to play.

    Bad coaching decision to play Ibra, who is embarrassing.

  32. Adrian says:

    Why does that always happen.

    Ibra plays like trash for the entire half. Then right after I call for him to be pulled he lobs the keeper for post.

  33. Jorge says:

    Barca up already 1-Arsenal 0

  34. Jorge says:

    in the 46th minute.

  35. Pico says:

    That my friends is class! Able to come out playing all the way from their own area!

  36. Adrian says:

    This is complete and utter superiority.

  37. I <3 MLS says:

    haha, who would of guessed Ibra would put up 2 after all the hate in the first half. Still would rather see Henry.

  38. fischy says:

    What a game! That header by Bendtner may have been the most powerfully hit header I’ve seen…and it was saved!!

    Knew I should have taken Ibra over Messi…

  39. Ian Gardener says:

    Yeah, Ibra really sucks! he’s awful! he’s overrated! Damned enigma ;)

  40. Adrian says:

    this ref really needs to learn about playing advantage

  41. I <3 MLS says:

    Anyone else going for the French team vs Moscow Champions league final?

  42. Ian Gardener says:

    Walcott looks scared!

  43. Doug says:

    thanks a lot Ives. Come on Barca

  44. Ian Gardener says:

    Let me take that back.

  45. Adrian says:

    Wow

    What a joke of a dive!

  46. BBB says:

    Fab/Pique two more reasons to hate that stupid yellow card accumulation rule. Worst rule in sports.

  47. Adrian says:

    That should be a straight red card.

  48. Adrian says:

    Walcott is lacking in the skill department.

    No wonder he rarely plays.

  49. Hunt says:

    Yeeeeeeeeeeeessssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  50. e says:

    horrible call.

  51. BBB says:

    WOW – weak

  52. Adrian says:

    This referee just turned into a joke.

  53. I <3 MLS says:

    WOW, love the acting by fabergas… one of my new least favorite players. But fun to see Barca mad. Maybe Arsenal can get one more.

  54. Hunt says:

    Carles and Pique out of second leg! Wow what a match. Definitely the two most entertaining teams in the world. Definitely the most entertaining matchup.

  55. away goals says:

    From now on can we please refer to henry as “new york red bull target thierry henry”? Not often you can link a world class player to MLS, so might as well get some mileage out of it…

  56. Adrian says:

    This referee has ruined the match, and the next.

    Second terrible card because Fabregas is a little ******.

  57. Adrian says:

    Wow I would punch Fabregas in the face.

    He can take the PK perfectly fine, but then he can barely walk to get off the field.

    BS

  58. Hunt says:

    hahaha funny you mention that. I’ve referred to Real Raul as “Red Bull Raul” for the past couple of years. A guy can hope right?

  59. OmarVizquel says:

    He’s been like this for years.

  60. Adrian says:

    What an absolutely undeserved tie.

    And Barca will now be missing their two best defenders on absolutely terrible dives.

    What a joke Arsenal has become. I would love to see FIFA go after those dives.

  61. fischy says:

    How many times are YOU going to be wrong in one game? You lack skill in the opinion department.

  62. fischy says:

    Hmmm….too bad there isn’t some sort of overseeing body to penalize bloggers…

  63. Adrian says:

    There is a reason that most people dislike your posts, maybe some self-reflection would do you good.

  64. Hunt says:

    haha that is laughable. If you really believe Cesc “dove” then you are nuts. I’m an Arsenal fan and I don’t necessarilty think it was a penelty, but Puyol and Fab certainly got tangled up and he lost his balance. There is a difference.

  65. scott47a says:

    Ahhh, the “my team didn’t win the other team are divers” idiots have popped up.

    Happens with every game, no?

  66. J.T. says:

    Valdes looks like Mark Messier.

  67. Adrian says:

    Because nobody ever dives, ever. Especially on Arsenal.

    What an insightful comment.

  68. Jamie Z. says:

    I’ve counted at least ten.

    Adrian: Do me a favor and say: “Aston Villa will definitely not finish fourth in the Premier League,” and, “Jermaine Jones and Charlie Davies will definitely not recover in time to play for the U.S. National Team in South Africa.”

  69. Jorge says:

    It was a pk. Just accept it and stop being a crybaby.

  70. Dom says:

    You’re American. You can’t be a fan of Barcelona.

  71. Ian Gardener says:

    Can we kill the myth that Arsenal play the best soccer in the EPL? They play the prettiest at times, but they should have got blown away tonight. Both Chelsea and ManU would have handled Barca better, but the Catalans are still the best team in the world.

  72. OmarVizquel says:

    Most wealthy teams play pretty at times. That’s what happens when you buy up the best players and have a huge economic gulf between you and the rest of the table. The idea that Arsenal constantly gives their supporters the best bang for their viewing buck hasn’t been right since Henry was there, and it wasn’t entirely right even then. Sure Arsenal have been nice to watch at times over the Premiership years, but so have Chelsea, Liverpool, United, etc. been nice to watch at times. At least that’s my opinion.

  73. Ritz says:

    Perhaps, but it is hard to draw such a conclusion over one particular match-up, and one game… it could simply be that Chelsea and United are better match-ups…or you may in fact be correct but its hard to make that assessment after on game. Let’s see how they do in Catalan

  74. Adrian says:

    q no puedo hacer?

    maybe you shouldn’t assume that someone is American because they speak english

    you’ll look like less of a fool

  75. montana matt says:

    Adrain is annoying and should stop posting.

  76. fischy says:

    Right. I’m suggesting that you’re being too critical of others. Your posts are OK because you’re not criticizing actual people…well, they are actual people, but they’re not actual fellow commenters here.

  77. fischy says:

    Oops — now , there you go being all nasty to other commenters. And if you go to the comments just below, it turns out someone doesn’t think much of your attitude and posts. Glass houses, buddy.

  78. fischy says:

    Honestly, I don’t hear people saying Arsenal plays the best soccer in the EPL. As you say, it’s often the most attractive to watch. Their defense isn’t very good, and Almunia isn’t among the elite class of goalies (despite playing whale of a game). I think only the most rabid Arsenal fan would deny that Chelsea and Man Utd are better teams and have been for years.

  79. OmarVizquel says:

    Winning makes you look nice. However you do it. Winning soccer is attractive soccer.

  80. fischy says:

    Most people have never seen my posts. Just saying….

  81. nico says:

    I don’t think it was a dive, but I don’t think it should have been a PK. Bad call by the ref in my opinion.

    Arsenal deserve credit for fighting back though.

    2nd leg should be fun.

  82. Hunt says:

    As an Arsenal fan, I do think Chelsea and United are better teams. That said, I am one that believes Arsenal play the best football in England. They were run over in the first 50 minutes against Barca because they didn’t drop into a shell, which most teams do against the Catalans. If Chelsea or United had been playing instead of Arsenal, the game would have been slower because they would have put an emphasis on getting numbers behind the ball. I wish Arsene would adopt a more conservative approach in big games, but it sure makes things entertaining for the neutral fan.

  83. Erik says:

    Hell of a game – I am still sticking with my earlier predictions that Arsenal and Bayern go through.

    I was wrong on this score line – but no Puyol or Pique for the next round and no Rooney for Manchester United. I’ve been jaded with the Champions League for years now but these two ties were nothing short of awesome.

  84. Erik says:

    I would totally be for it.

  85. Erik says:

    Walcott was awesome when he came on. Although if Wenger is going to play a counter attacking style, he should have been on from the start. Although he can’t cross…

  86. Erik says:

    I think it was a PK, not a red card. Puyol stopped Fabregas from striking the ball. Karma for Barca is a b.

  87. GoGunners says:

    Hey Ives,

    Just read through the text from the match and I literally cannot believe you wrote off the Gunners in the 60th. Not even that but you wrote us off for the 2nd leg too?!?!

    Have to say that I didn’t see the Arsenal coming back to draw based on the run of play, had hope/prayers, but with you being in tune with all teams, esp. the great clubs, you’ve had to known that this season the Gunners do not give up EVER and always seem to answer the call!

    2nd leg is very intriguing with Puyol and Marquez out. I expect Bendtner to expose the new CB’s, Marquez and Yaya I would assume. I think the Arsenal can handle this game with Captain Fantastic, I mean hell we have to; slot in Nasri/Rosicky in the middle, start Theo up on the wing, and then Nasri/Rosicky on the other wing. Eboue should start for Sagna (need more attacking options) and stick Song in the back for Gallas. Denilson would then have to play the holding mid role but there are many more options.

    I see another great match next week but first Wolves can sit on it this weekend!!!! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONERS!

    (SBI-You’re not serious right? I never said Arsenal would “give up” but nobody in their right mind gave Arsenal a chance after Ibrahimovic’s second goal. Nobody. Okay, maybe some hardcore Arsenal fans who would refuse to believe otherwise, but at that point there was zero evidence to suggest a comeback. Kudos to Arsenal for fighting back, but I hardly think I was alone in believing the series and match would be over after that second goal.

    I should also note that I picked a 2-2 scoreline before the match so i can’t say I was totally upset with that outcome. it makes for a great second leg.)

  88. GoGunners says:

    ****w/o Captain Fantastic aka Cesc for all of you who did not know…..

    ****there are NOT many more options to play holding mid than Denilson

  89. GoGunners says:

    Certainly didn’t mean to imply that you said that the Arsenal have given up, just that we had no shot at all to pull something epic out; and good on you for actually giving the Gunners a chance before the match to draw.

    Most thought Arsenal would be exposed with our headcase keeper, injury prone players and lack of a true striker. Isn’t far from the truth but I couldn’t be happier the way it turned out based on the majority of the game.

    2nd leg should be memorable to say the least, that is if it goes the right way!!!!

  90. B-Waite says:

    good call on the acting genius. looks like the tackle may have broken fabs leg. really must be acting. ha

  91. dom says:

    You’re not Spanish (or indeed Catalan). You can’t be a fan of Barcelona.