The 24th of February is coming soon!
Yes, a mouth-watering match between Arsenal vs Roma in the Champions League knockout round first leg is fast approaching. Every soccer fans have their opinions and predictions. Some people even said this is a war between Italy and English soccer (with the other big matches between Italian teams versus English teams).
Here are some facts about this exciting match:
- Arsenal and Roma met in the 2002-2003 Champions League. Arsenal won the first tie 3-1 and the second match was a 1-1 draw.
- Arsenal's form and morale was boosted with their Cardiff win, although they have drawn their last four matches before this game and currently lay in fifth position in the Premier League.
- Roma's unbeaten run ended with a 0-3 defeat at the hands of Atalanta. This was also their first Serie A defeat in 2009. The defeat sees them sixth in the Serie A.
How about the match itself?
Many people put Roma ahead of Arsenal. With both teams' current form, it looks like that Arsenal are slight underdogs in this encounter.
West Ham striker, Di Michele is one of those supporting Roma. "At the moment I see the Giallorossi as favourites because Arsenal are going through a difficult period and they will be without Cesc Fabregas," said Di Michele.
Former Manchester United goalkeeper, Massimo Taibi, also thinks that Roma has the best chance of getting through this stage.
But, is it a sign that Roma can win the first encounter easily? Absolutely not!
Many people said Arsenal will struggle in this match because they will be without Cesc Fabregas. Some other said Arsenal will struggle because they have many inexperienced players that don't have the capability to compete with the "experienced" Roma players.
However, you can't say the same thing if you look carefully at Arsenal's team. A team with players like Van Persie, Nasri, Toure, Sagna, Gallas, Eduardo surely not that easy to beat.
Although Roma has started this year pretty well that sees them currently in sixth position and only two points away from next season Champions League spot, their last game was worrying.
It was an awful performance. Ok, it wasn't that bad, but during a seven minute period in the second half, they got a "blackout" situation that saw Atalanta scoring three times.
This lack of concentration will be a task to solve for Spaletti if they want to go home with at least a draw. They can make it if their "experienced" defending players such as Mexes, Juan, Riise, Cicinho, and Doni can fully concentrate until the final whistle.
The match itself will no doubt has some interesting head to head between the both teams.
In the middle, we have a battle between Aquilani (or Perotta) and Nasri to prove who is the better attacking midfielder. Unfortunately we can't see Fabregas in action until possibly the second leg. It will be very interesting to see him compete with De Rossi.
On both flanks we'll see (probably) Clichy or Sagna trying to neutralize the like of Taddei and Menez.
On Arsenal's attack, we'll see an interesting battle between Van Persie and Mexes. Van Persie's currently the sixth top scorer in the Premier League with nine goals, while Mexes is undoubtedly one of the best defender in Europe at this time although some time his form is inconsistent. Can Mexes do his job to keep Van Persie at the bay?
Note that Arsenal's attack isn't in the best of form lately (one goal in four matches, before Cardiff win). Compare this with Roma's lack of concentration defending lately (conceded eight in six last matches).
On the Roma's attacking side, there will be the three "destroyers" Totti, Baptista, and Vucinic to test Almunia and Arsenal's defenders. Can Gallas and Toure hold the line to keep these three wolves away from the net? Can Almunia neutralize their shoots on goal?
One interesting thing though, if you really watch Arsenal games this season, you'll notice that Arsenal style of play isn't like the last season. Arsenal's beautiful style, dynamic, and attacking football are rarely shown this season. This could be a disadvantage for them when they meet a similar style of play team like Roma.
I think it is very hard to predict the outcome of this match.
Arsenal have the chance to win if they can take advantages of their skills, speed, and home advantage. They will try to keep a clean sheet and score fast.
Roma, I guess, will play safe for this away match although they will also try hard to score. They will depend a lot on the counter attack and their attackers speed. Roma will also take advantage from the dead-ball situations.
Although many predict Arsenal will win this match, I personally see Roma will go home with a draw or a 2-1 win.
Comments are welcome!