A Dream

– Drawing Barcelona in the Champions League is a dream come true. I am not one of those supporters who wants an easy route. If we were handed an easy one, I wouldn’t have minded, but I don’t fear any team, especially in a European cup tie.

– Despite what people think, Barcelona are not an all-conquering side this year. They certainly were last year, and even that team had difficulties against the brute strength of Chelsea. By swapping Eto’o for the mercurial Ibrahimovic, they’ve downgraded. The reason why they’ve maintained consistent form is the more centrally-inclined Messi and his form. Zlatan was signed to give Barcelona a fall back option when they can’t break down defensive minded teams. That shouldn’t be a factor against us, but he’ll start against us regardless.

– As impressive as Messi was against Stuttgart, it was only Stuttgart. You could say the same about our impressive show in Europe; it was only Porto. Regardless, both clubs have done what they had to do. I’ve also seen Messi have stinkers this year, so while he is a supreme threat, nothing is impossible in this tie.

– I don’t want to go heavily into this tie just yet (there are other matters at hand), but I’ll point out a few more things. We wanted to draw Barcelona now. If we beat them, it’ll give us the confidence to know that we can beat any team in Europe. With the way the draw is arranged, we’ll face United (our bogey team in Europe I suppose) in a one-off game. Lose the tie and we’ll re-focus our attention in the Premier League. The game directly following the second leg of the Barcelona clash is at White Hart Lane against Sp*rs. So, while we would be deflated after a loss, we would have instant motivation for getting our groove back. To that end, it pains me to say that it’s preferable that Sp*rs beat Fulham in the FA Cup so that our match against them is pushed to a midweek fixture. That’ll give us a full week to recover from both travel and heavy fatigue (we’re going to give it our all, I guarantee you that). I’d rather have a full week to prepare for Sp*rs (who are increasingly getting crocked) than for Wigan. Coincidentally, I believe Barcelona play Real Madrid at the Bernabeu after the second leg. Some things are just meant to be.

– For Thierry Henry, his nightmare has come true. He is gaining some form, and he does provide a different option for Barcelona. Will he play against us? I think so. Will he play well against us? I certainly hope not.

– This matchup is a football purists’ dream. Barcelona are probably heavily favored, but I promise you, this is a 50-50 tie. Ask Wenger.

– With how it’s set up, we could potentially play Jose Mourinho, then United in the Final. That’s wonderful. I couldn’t wish for a better challenge.

– Now, for West Ham. Earlier in the season, we squandered a 2-0 lead and threw away two points. I remember kicking the side of a wall when this happened. It was the beginning of the end of Vito Mannone’s spell in the team, and it was definitely one of the lows of the season. That’s something we have to remember, especially if we end up losing the Premier League crown by one point.

– West Ham will be determined and will battle for their pride today, but they have bigger plans in mind. Scott Parker is absent. Carlton Cole is not 100%. They’re playing at the Emirates (despite their sterling record at the Emirates, they’d be mad to think they’re some sort of bogey side). And most importantly, they have a six-pointer against Wolves at Upton Park on Tuesday. Honestly, that’s a much more important fixture for them, but they won’t pull a Coward McCarthy by fielding a weakened side. They’ll still give us a fight.

– Blackburn play Chelsea at Ewood Park. They have won their last four home games. Wayne Rooney has not scored against Liverpool in 16 hours. I hate looking at other team’s fixtures and hoping for dropped points, but that is the position that we’re in. We need a positive result (other than us beating West Ham) this weekend from one of those two games. I want to be in a position where if we win, we’ll win the league. I hope that comes sooner than later.

– Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song will return. They are pivotal players and automatic first choice for us.

– Again, I don’t want to jinx us, but a rout would be most welcome.


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