Strangely, or predictably, the English consensus is that Arsenal will be lucky not to get a thrashing at the hands of Barcelona, yet outside of the British media the prognosis is much more in favour of an Arsenal win. At the least Europe expects a very close game between two purveyours of the beautiful game.
While there are well grounded reason for backing a Barca win, there are equally competitive reasons for a punt on Arsenal. What I don’t get is the lack of balance in the British Isles. I know there is an anti-Arsenal agenda —well more accurately a pro spurs agenda via the spurs in the media collective— in the British media, but that shouldn’t preclude the lack of objectivity amongst the scribes and their followers. Well maybe it does.
I used to be really bothered by this bias, but now that I know it exists and who is behind it I don’t let it get to me. Even more so knowing that for all the spin put out be them, we still remain the better team, but I digress.
While we don’t get what we deserve from our compatriots, there is a lot of respect coming to us from the mainland. There is also respect from or opposition, at least on the field. Barcelona knows full well that this is not La Liga opposition they’re coming up against,. They know that they played their best football in the first half of last year’s Emirates game yet left with a draw. They know that this was against a weakened Arsenal team and an even weaker team in the second leg.
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When Guardiola says Arsenal is dangerous we pass it off as patronising whilst others know that we are. Do you really think that Barcelona wouldn’t have preferred any other team? The fact is the last time we lost at home in the Champions League was 10 games ago against Manchester United, before that you have to go back all the way to 2004 against Chelsea.
In fact the last time we lost against continental opposition in at home was that 0-3 against Inter Milan, and we all know what happened in the return leg —another thing that lot in the media tend to conveniently forget.
Meanwhile Barcelona are not known for their European away days, two wins in 12 is nothing to shout about. So while some are sharpening their knives in anticipation of a humbling from Barcelona, I will be in the kitchen preparing a batch of humble pie. Any takers?