The next week will be a huge one for the “top” 4 four of English football; Man City face Barcelona on Tuesday night and Arsenal play host to Bayern Munich, whilst United and Chelsea play next week. City and Arsenal are the focus of this weeks post.
Manchester City vs Barcelona:
This is one of the few games which Manchester city head in to as underdogs, which is understandable due to Barcelona seemingly hitting top form ahead of the midweek clash. Barcelona started the la liga season fairly slowly, with andres iniesta, a main stay in the line up under Vilanova and Pep Guardiola, failing to feature regularly under the Martino, their style of play changed. There was little consistency and weren’t playing the intricate football that had become associated with them, despite all this they still find themselves atop the La Liga table. Whats more worrying for Manchester City is that they are in the words of Guillem Balague “facing the best Barcelona of the season so far.” City however do have some positives to draw on, this is the first time that they have reached this stage of the competition in their history which should galvanise the team and will most definitely do that for the fans. Furthermore the return of Fernandinho will be a huge boost for the blues. He will add an extra level of security to the defence which this season has been the worst part of City’s team. Finally after securing a quarter final place on Saturday and showing that they can outclass the best players in the Premier League, confidence should be high, couple this with the underdog factor and City could snatch a win against Barca on Tuesday. What is a definite however, is that there will be goals.
Arsenal vs Bayern Munich:
After the bitter disappointment of last season, in which Arsenal were knocked out merely on away goals, there is definitely some old scores to be settled. Arsenals’ form has been suspect over the past few weeks, after they were utterly demoralised by liverpool, they were then lucky to get a point from the United game, which they had Szczęsny to thank for and finally they ground out a win against liverpool on Sunday in the FA cup, again a game which they were lucky to get anything from, Fabianski the keeper that time around got many of the plaudits. Mathieu Flamini pointed out that commitment has been a key feature of the arsenal side this season and that is exactly what they will need to conquer Bayern this week. Arsenal have to be the underdogs going in to this, however there is no Shaqiri, and no Ribery, so perhaps Wenger may feel this will be a midfield battle his side can win.
This weeks two games featuring English clubs are both must watch matches. This is furthest City have ever reached in this competition and will want to progress to the next round. As for Arsenal, this is the first season in nine years that they have seemed likely to win anything, as they seem to be just getting over their bad run form, a win against Bayern will surely silence their critics, including myself.