Can Arsenal Win In Barcelona?

Well, who’d have predicted victories for both Arsenal and Spurs in the Champions League at the beginning of this week?

It’s easy to be wise after the event and regret not putting money on the games, but with two weeks to go before the return legs it’s worth taking a look at what might happen – as well as taking advantage of any free bets that might be available.

Of the second leg ties involving the North London rivals, Arsenal’s trip to Barcelona looks the more difficult one. The excitement of a stirring come from behind victory against arguably the best club in the world at the Emirates was only tempered by David Villa’s away goal and Barcelona’s formidable record at home. 

The blaugrana have only lost twice in their last 20 Champions League games at Nou Camp and once in their last ten home games in the competition against English clubs in the Catalan capital – a 2-1 defeat by Liverpool in Feb 2007.

On the other hand, Arsenal do not travel well in the Champions League. The Gunners have only recorded six away wins in their last 20 away games in the competition and have only won one of their last five trips to Spain – a single goal victory against Real Madrid six years ago.

The following evening Milan – without Renato Gattuso – travel to White Hart Lane. We only have this season’s form in the Champions League to judge Spurs on but as they’ve won all four games at home in the competition this season then it’s reasonable to assume that they might not lose  – which increases when you look at Milan’s recent away record in the competition.

The only victory the rossoneri  managed  in the group stage was at a poor Auxerre side: additionally, Milan have only one win in their last eight away games versus British opposition. The current Serie A leaders need to score to stand any chance of qualifying, but once again they don’t have a great record, having failed to score in three of their last five away games against British sides.

It’d be great if both Arsenal and Spurs reached the next round, but however unlikely that prospect may look, we won’t know until the final whistle blows at White Hart Lane in a few weeks time.

Arsenal Have It All To Do

After last week’s travesty, I’m hoping that one of our clubs will be able to do the business in the Champions League this season – an English club winning the tournament at Wembley would be one in the eye for you know and his cronies. Three out of four of our clubs are currently through and it’s up to Arsenal tomorrow night to make it a clean sweep. 


Manchester United v Valencia (Sky Sports 2, 7:45pm)

Both teams are through, but the group winner would avoid some of the nastier options in the first knockout round.

United’s first team has had a nice long rest, as it’s been almost two weeks since they hammered Blackburn Rovers 7-1; Michael Owen was due to make an appearance but was ruled out yesterday. Valencia lost 2-0 at Real Madridat the weekend and haven’t won an away game in La Liga since they beat Sporting Gijon at the end of September.

Twente Enschede v Spurs (Sky Sports 4, 7:45pm)

The hosts are joint top with PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie after two Theo Janssen goals gave them a win over De Graafschaap on Saturday: Spurs looked as if they were going to win at Birmingham but Craig Gardnerscored the equaliser with ten minutes left. Harry Redknapp’s team would win the group with three points in Holland, but the last time Spurs played an away game in the Premiership on Saturday and then travelled for a Champions League game they drew both of them. Without Rafael van der Vaart and Jermaine Jenas the same thing could happen again.


Arsenal v Partizan Belgrade (ITV, 7:45pm)

Top of the Premiership against top of the Serbian Superliga – which is basically saying top of one of the best – if not the best – leagues in Europe against the leaders in the 27th best competition…and those are UEFA’s numbers, not mine.

Partizan went five points clear at the top with a 5-2 win over Sevojno (no, I’d never heard of them either) – they were 4-0 up after half an hour. By all accounts the Gunners had to grind it out at Fulham and this is a game they’ve got to win as they’re three points behind Shaktyar Donetsk but level with Sporting Braga.

Fortunately for Arsene’s boys, Braga have to travel to the Ukraine and their away form has been awful this season – they lost 3-1 at Uniao de Leiria on Saturday evening and had three players sent off.

 Marseille v Chelsea (Sky Sports 2, 7:45pm)

After their recent return to pre-Abramovic form, Chelsea will be pleased they’re already through to the knockout stages – the odds are in Marseille’s favour to qualify with them, but although L’OM lost 1-0 at Nice at the weekend, they’re currently on a seven game unbeaten streak at the Stade Velodrome.

And here’s a good bit of trivia for you to amaze your friends with: Gareth Bale has scored more goals in the competition than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Oh s***

More later, but Wayne Rooney picked up an ankle injury last night in the Champions League game against Bayern Munich in Germany. Nobody seems to have any real information about how bad the injury is, but it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll play for Manchester United against Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime. What impact the injury will have this summer is also unknown; if it’s serious, we’re in big trouble.

Premiership Preview: The Clocks Go BACK

After a hectic weekend in European competition which didn’t go particularly well for some of the Premiership teams, we’re back to the bread and butter (or should that be the champagne and caviar) stuff. No doubt about this weekend’s biggest game: Liverpool v Manchester United on Sunday. Anyone tuning in to Sky Sports on Sunday afternoon wanting to watch some sort of epoch defining clash of the titans between Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney might be disappointed though: Gerrard limped off during Liverpool’s home defeat in the Champions League against Lyonand Rooney didn’t feature at all in United’s win in Moscow over CSKA.

There are five other games featuring multiple England stars: no surprise that all of them apart from Manchester City v Fulham are being televised. Coverage kicks off on Saturday lunchtime when Aston Villa travel to Wolves (12.45pm GMT Sky Sports 1), then ESPN has Chelsea v Blackburn at 5.30pm. On Sunday Liverpool/Man U is followed by West Ham v Arsenal but make sure you check the kick off times on Sunday as the clocks go back one hour in Britain.

That’s about it for this week, apart from a couple of updates: it’s probably fair to say that what Diego Maradona said to the press after the victory in Montevideo was pretty rude for live TV and probably sounded worse in vernacular Spanish than it did in translation. It’s also looking extremely likely that David Beckham will rejoin Milan after the MLS season finishes: Brian Glanville  (the elder statesman of British football writers) has some interesting things to say about Beckham’s position in the England team in November’s issue of World Soccer.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend…and remember to re-set anything that tells you what time it is!