Arsenal Come of Age

Arsenal may have outdone Tottenham’s win last night by overturning a 1-0 half time deficit to beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Emirates.

The tie is finely balanced after late strikes from Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin see Arsenal take a 2-1 lead to Camp Nou in 3 weeks time.

Barcelona had the usual higher percentage of possession and obliterated the number of passes completed, but failed to shut Arsenal out with Carles Puyol suspended.

David Villa had given Barcelona the lead mid-way through the first half with a straight forward ball down the middle, with Gael Clichy playing him onside. Barcelona had already threatened on three occasions, catching Arsenal’s defence out with the same move.

Lionel Messi had one ruled out before half time, and had earlier chipped a one-on-one wide of the post. He fired into the side netting in the second half as the Argentinian wonder has now failed to score in 8 matches on English soil.

It was a fantastic finish to the game for Arsenal, scoring their first shortly after Andrey Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner were brought on. And it was the former who won the game as Samir Nasri cut in from the right on a counter attack for his Russian team mate to sweep the ball in.  Last year, Arsenal came from two-nil down to draw 2-2 with two goals in the final 20 minutes at home to Barcelona in the first leg of their quarter final match.

Barcelona had chances to equalise after Arsenal went in front this evening, and Andrey Arshavin gave Daniel Alves a chance to dive in the area with a short header back to his goalkeeper. He stayed on his feet and the Gunners scrambled the ball away.  Arsenal held on for a fabulous victory that sets them up nicely for the 2nd leg at Camp Nou on March 8th.

Although I was happy to tell my friends and colleagues alike I was confident of an Arsenal result this evening, I did not put my money where my mouth was this time. I hope they did. William Hill offered 14/1 on Arsenal to win at half time, while odds were matched as high as 400.00 on Betfair moments before Arsenal equalised.

Last night, Peter Crouch scored the only goal at the San Siro as Tottenham came away with a 1-0 victory over AC Milan. Both English sides recording fantastic results this week, before Chelsea travel to Copenhagen next Tuesday and Manchester United travel to Marseille a week tonight.

Barcelona’s odds are now 9/4, still favourites to win the Champions League.