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Nic Ladds 30th Mar 2010 - 10:13

Arsenal will have to be Fab

Arsenal will be hoping to make full use of their home advantage in the first-leg of their Champions League encounter with Barcelona.

There's so much you can write about these two sides, two of the best teams to watch in the world at the moment, if not ever.

The match will mean emotional returns for a couple of players too, Cesc Fabregas should be fit to line up against the club where he started his career and Thierry Henry's return to North London just adds to the spice of the tie.

Arsenal have been improved domestically this season, still in the running for the league, albeit an outsider, at this late stage and on their day they can give anyone a run for their money.

Barcelona have lost just one match all season in La Liga but they somehow sit second on goal difference to Real Madrid. They are both over 20 points clear of any other team and really are a cut above the rest in Spain.

Even in this home leg, Arsenal are underdogs, they are 21/20 while the visitors line up at 13/10 and I would certainly be tempted to have a punt on Arsenal at that price. You can even get 11/10 on Arsenal with the draw no bet.

It is vital that Arsenal don't concede (13/5 to keep a clean sheet) as with the second leg such a daunting prospect in the Nou Camp, you would think Arsenal will need to take at least a one goal advantage without conceding to have any chance of qualifying (7/4).

If Barcelona can score they will be hot favourites to go through to the semis, they have scored a massive 81 goals in 29 matches in the league this season. They have such quality across the field it's hard to see them firing a blank here.

The problem with Arsenal has been the lack of a striker that can get a goal from nowhere, with Bendtner, Arshavin and Eduardo all being hit and miss in front of goal, they have really missed the injured Van Persie. They also miss someone in the mould of Thierry Henry, who can turn a game in the blink of an eye.

Barca have had no such problems. Everyone seems to have run out of plaudits for Lionel Messi (10/3 to score first) who has 25 goals in 26 matches and it clearly the main man to stop if Arsenal have any chance of getting anything from the game.

Pep Guardiola will be coming to the Emirates to win and he certainly has the team to do so. Arsenal showed how weak they can be when strong sides visit them as they have lost 3-0 to Chelsea and were undone in a 3-1 defeat to Man Utd in the league.

I find it hard to write off either of these sides, but it is hard to deny that tournament favourites Barcelona are the stronger of the two. I think the Spanish side will go through but would not be surprised if Arsenal can pull off something special in front of their home fans.



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