At this stage of the season, Arsenal and Roma might be out of their respective title races, but they will throw everything including the kitchen sink at each other in order to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Roma and Arsenal have conceded 31 and 25 goals respectively in their leagues, a record not to be proud of for either side. Roma’s recent 3-0 destruction at the hands of Atalanta has further highlighted their season as a disappointment, and has added to their lack of challenge for the Scudetto this season.
Many reports have stated Roma’s Juan Silveira dos Santos and Christian Panucci cannot settle their differences with their club representatives, due to contract extensions and their consequent transition to benchwarmers. These reports also said this is the main reason behind their dismal defensive performances.
Arsenal, on the other hand, has conceded just one goal in their last five games, giving the backline more reason to be confident ahead of their clash with the “Giallorossi” in the Champions League.
Firing on All Cylinders
Although Roma has been struggling defensively lately with Arsenal performing well at the back, the Giallorossi have been rather fortunate in front of goal. However, the Gunners will be missing key players who usually provide the finishing touch.
Arsenal will not only be without long-term, injury-struck players like Francesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, and Tomas Rosicky, but they will also miss the likes of Eduardo and Andrei Arshavin, who is not eligible to play in the Champions League for Arsenal this term.
This gives Carlos Vela and Samir Nasri a chance to wreak havoc on the wings, and for the Arsenal youth to prove their worth on the European stage. Arsenal’s youth will have a daring task to overcome Roma’s experience, though.
Roma, on the other hand, have players that are hitting form lately, like Julio Baptista who scored a stunner against Genoa to help ensure a Champions League spot for next season.
The likes of Francesco Totti and Mirko Vucinic have also been scoring some vital goals for Roma to help them climb all the way from the bottom half of the table up to the sixth position.
The 12th Man
A considerable advantage Arsenal will have in this clash will be the fact that they will be playing in front of a rejuvenated home crowd, which is always a cause of heightened intimidation for any visitor.
Arsenal will be looking to gun down the wolves from the Italian capital after their confidence-boosting 4-0 win over Cardiff City in the FA Cup.
Although not many pundits mention it, the Emirates is certainly a dangerous place to go to when Arsenal starts to pick themselves up. The teams have done so by staying tight at the back for the past five games.
Another reason why the Emirates will be a daunting venue for Roma is because of Eduardo’s fantastic comeback, which saw him score two goals. By scoring these two goals, he has amplified the self-belief in the fans who are demanding to see more goals at the stadium.
The 4-0 win over Cardiff City sparked the end of the goal drought which Arsenal had to bear for a few weeks.
This includes three consecutive 0-0 draws with West Ham and Tottenham and Cardiff City, in addition to a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park vs. Everton. Arsenal fans are sure to be deafening with their support as they encourage their warriors to eradicate the Romans’ backline and rattle Alexander Doni’s net.
This match highlights not only one of the battles between England and Italy in the Champions League, but is also the match that represents youth vs. experience. Arsenal’s Youth will have a tough mountain to climb to overcome the vast experience of this Roma side that has dominated the Champions League the past three years.
However, Arsenal will have the confidence of pummeling Cardiff City fresh in their hearts and minds and the youth in the red and white camp will want to prove their worth.
One would expect Arsenal to overwhelm and devastate the seasoned veterans in the Roma squad with their slick passing and agile movement. I predict Arsenal will run out 2-0 victors in what will be a mouth-watering clash.