by Ian S. Palmer
English Premier League title challengers Arsenal have a huge task in front them this Wednesday, March 16 when they try to overcome 2-0 deficit to reigning Spanish La Liga and European champions Barcelona. The clubs will be meeting at the Camp Nou in Spain in the second leg of their home-and-away, round-of-16 European Champions League tie after Barcelona won the first encounter at the Emirates Stadium in London three weeks ago. The Gunners are coming off of a 2-1 home loss to fellow Premier League team Watford in the sixth-round of the English FA Cup clash on Sunday while Barcelona played Saturday and hammered Getafe 6-0 at home in a La Liga contest.
- Pinnacle currently lists Barcelona as the favorites to win the 90-minute match at -390 with Arsenal +1161 a draw at +591
Barcelona vs Arsenal – Head to Head:
- Barcelona has eliminated Arsenal from the Champions League twice already this decade. Arsenal was knocked out by Barcelona in the round of 16 in the 2010/11 campaign after the Gunners won 2-1 at home in 2010/11, but lost 3-1 in Barcelona. The season before, Barcelona were 4-1 winners in the second leg after the teams drew 2-2 in the first meeting in the quarterfinal stage. Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Champions League final in 2005/06 in Paris. Arsenal played most of the match with 10 men after goaltender Jens Lehmann was sent off with a red card. Barcelona and Arsenal drew 1-1 in the 1999/2000 group stage with at Barcelona with the Spanish side winning 4-2 in London as well. Overall, the teams have met eight times with Barcelona winning five, losing one and drawing two.
Arsenal currently sits in third place in the Premier League with 52 points from 15 wins, seven draws and seven losses. They’ve scored 46 goals and allowed 30 against and are winless in their last three league games with two losses and a draw. Arsenal is eight points back of league-leading Leicester City and three in front of fifth-place West Ham United. Barcelona sits on top of the Spanish La Liga with 75 points from 24 victories, three draws and two defeats. They’ve scored a league-high 84 goals and allowed 22 against and have an eight-point lead on second-place Atletico Madrid. They’re also 12 up on Real Madrid.
Barcelona will be have Arda Turan back after he missed the first match due to a suspension, but defender Gerard Pique is suspended for this contest. Injured players include Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Petr Cech and Jack Wilshere for Arsenal as well as Rafinha and Sandro Ramirez of Barcelona. Arsenal finished the group stage as runners up in Group F behind Germany’s Bayern Munich. The Gunners had nine points on three wins and three losses with 12 goals for and 10 against. Barcelona won Group E with 14 points from four victories and a pair of draws. They scored 15 goals and conceded four.
Arsenal hasn’t reached quarter-finals since the 2010 campaign even though they’ve made it to the knockout round for 16 straight seasons. The Gunners have been beaten at home in the first leg of their last four round- of-16 series. They’ve won five out of their past eight series against Spanish sides, but have lost three European cup finals to them in the past. Barcelona was one of just two clubs to finish the group stage without a loss. They’ve made the quarter-finals of the tournament eight straight years. They have 13 victories and 10 defeats in two-legged series against English opposition.
Arsenal has made changes to its Champions League squad by adding Mohamed Elneny and releasing Glen Kamara and Mathieu Debuchy. Barcelona is on a 37-match unbeaten streak in all competitions with their last loss coming back on October 3. The streak included 31 wins and six draws. The team has also made squad changes by adding Adrian Ortola, Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan and releasing Juan Camara, David Babunski, Alejandro Grimaldo, Jose Aurelio and Gerard Gumbau.
Barcelona has won nine straight European matches at home. Their last home defeat was 3-0 to Bayern Munich in May of 2013. It has been their only European loss at Cam Nou in their past 36 games with 29 wins and six draws. Overall, Barcelona has 17 wins at home against English teams with 11 draws and two defeats. They’re 5-1 in shootouts while Arsenal is 2-2. The Gunners have won two games in Spain in the past with three draws and eight losses. Their last victory there was 2005/06. Arsenal has just one win in their past seven games in all competitions with four losses and two draws.
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