Arsenal and Tottenham, North London Premier League representatives, will be the first two English clubs which will fight for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals. Spurs travel to Italy to face AC Milan on Tuesday, while 24 hours later, the Gunners will be hosting Barcelona at Emirates.
Tottenham are struggling to qualify to next year’s Champions League via the Premier League Top-4 route, but they are going from strength to strength in this year’s European campaign. After having qualified as first from their group, ahead of their Tuesday opponents’ rivals, Inter Milan, Harry Redknapp will try to take advantage of his players’ momentum – three straight league victories and counting – and escape San Siro with a positive result.
The Italians on the other side seem determined to travel in London being favourites and don’t take their clash with Spurs lightly. As AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic put it, ” it will be a very difficult game” and even more difficult to bet on.
The Milanese currently stand on top of the Serie A table, three points ahead of Napoli. Despite their injury problems, most notably the absence of midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo, they remain the favourite of the match and the series in general. Bet365 offers a Rosoneri victory at 7/10, a draw at 11/4 and 4/1 for a Spurs’ triumph.
On Wednesday, Arsenal will face probably the most dangerous opponent on the European stage, FC Barcelona. The Catalans have the upper hand on their clashes with the Gunners, eliminating them during last year’s campaign and more importantly, beating Arsene Wenger’s men 2-1, for the 2006 Champions League Final in Paris.
The captain, Cesc Fabregas has stated that Arsenal is capable of taking their revenge, if they play with no fear against the Primera Division leaders. Indeed after their 6-3 on aggregate thrashing at the hands of their Wednesday opponents last season, they “can’t do worse” as Theo Walcott said.
It is imperative for Arsenal not to conceive a goal and if they do, build a safe goal difference, ahead of their Camp Nou match. Quite difficult to ask for, when facing a team who has scored 14 times and only picked the ball from their net thrice. But if there is someone that can do it, it must Arsenal; they are the most productive club of the Champions League this season, with 18 goals.
Another hard match to judge, but the Gunners have the credentials to beat Josep Guardiola’s armada, against all the odds. Bet365 confirms the difficulty for the Gunners, offering them as 3/1 underdogs. The visitors are given at 5/6, while a draw is offered at 14/5.