It’s the Gunners.
For those living under a rock or something, the Champions League draw was held today, for the final 8 teams and their seedings. We draw Arsenal in the quarter-finals, setting up a nightmare draw for both sides, frankly, and a feeding frenzy for the Spanish press.
Will Cesc or won’t Cesc? What of the beautiful game? Should Arsenal reopen Highbury to shrink the pitch from our expansive football? Will Henry have a conniption at having to face his former club in such a crucial tie?
Ah, gotta love European football.
Frankly, it’s not a shock that we draw Arsenal, since all through the tournament, whenever we have had the possibility of drawing a club that brings with it fraught emotions, we have. Inter has been the most recent iteration of that.
And speaking of Inter, if they dispatch CSKA, we will see Eto’o again in the semi-finals. Here’s the full draw:
Olympique Lyon v Bordeaux
Bayern v Manchester United
Arsenal v Barca
Inter Milan v CSKA Moscow
Not only does it set up a quarter-final draw with the beautiful game on full display, and a semi-final matchup with Inter and Eto’o, but it also foreshadows the dream matchup, a finals return of us vs United.
But we have to get there first, and frankly, Arsenal is a club I would rather not have seen until later in the tournament. They have all the tools that can vex us, from ball handling and fast wingers (anybody fancy Theo Walcott running loose toward our back line?), to that same kind of possession game that we play.
Mind you, most people think that when you get a mirror image of yourself, you know how to beat it. Whatevs. It also matches up two coaching minds, Arsene Wenger of Arsenal, and our own Pep Guardiola.
And then, of course, there’s the tastiest morsel if you’re a mouth-frothing, gibbering footy journo in Spain: Last time we faced Arsenal in a big Champions League tie, it involved Henry. We won, and he came. If we win, will Fabregas do the same? Do we even care?
What a matchup. Frankly, United have the easiest road to the final, and conspiracy theorists can call up all kinds of mojo if they like. But they shouldn’t have that much trouble with Bayern, or the winner of the Ligue 1 faceoff.
Yes, the discussions have already begun, so let’s continue them. Frankly, I think it will be a close-run tie, but we will go through on away goals. I think that having both second legs at home gives us an immense advantage, because we will be able to score goals, even against Inter, I think. What say ye?