1. Miracle is real! Arsenal defeated Barca 2-1 last week to set up a sumptuous fixture in three weeks time. Barca needs to win in Nou Camp, but Arsenal will definitely score, so it should be another feast of football.
2. Wenger changed 10 players from the starting lineup in the previous match against Barca to face Leyton Orient and they were gifted with a 1-1 draw, courtesy of a late equalizer from the O’s. Arsenal strucked late against Barca, Orient strucked late against Arsenal. What goes around comes around.
Anyway, Arsenal has been struggling badly in FA Cup this season. They managed to secure a repeat fixture against Leeds United only after scoring from a penalty kick very late in the game. And they scrapped to win against Huddersfield after getting another late penalty kick. The draw also means that Arsenal will play every three days for the upcoming three weeks: Feb 23rd v. Stoke City, Feb 27th vs. Birmingham, Mar 2nd vs. Leyton Orient, Mar 5th vs. Sunderland, Mar 8th vs. Barca, and, if Arsenal prevails against Leyton Orient, Mar 13th vs. Man Utd. And it is very damaging, physically and mentally, as Wenger has admitted.
3. Man Utd home record for this season, by the way, is 17 wins, 3 draws, and 0 losses. Even Barca is worse than United at home (17W-2D-1L). So FA cup doesn’t really matter since if Arsenal doesn’t lose to Orient this round they will do so at the Old Trafford in the next round.
(The 4-0 loss in 2008 still hurts, by the way. The downturn of Arsenal’s 2008 season was not only the match against Birmingham on Feb 23rd, but also the game one week before that, when the over-achieving Arsenal was thoroughly outclassed by Rooney and co. at the Old Trafford.)
4. You must never be happy if a player get injured, but I guess Arsenal could get a breathing by the absence of Victor Valdes up to six weeks. I just know that Barca actually has a second goalkeeper. Seriously, no Valdes, no Pique, not bad.
5. Here’s hoping we will be celebrating our first trophy after six years of drought on Sunday. Carling Cup is still a cup, after all.