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Arsenal vs Villarreal – Champions League Semi-Final Preview



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It’s almost time.

When Arsenal and Villarreal go head to head in two hours time, I can’t for a second imagine which team will fight harder for the win, with Villarreal being in the competition for the first time and Arsenal having suffered heartbreak after heartbreak for so many years. The betting odds (for now) still favor a home win, but maybe this has to do more with Arsenal’s reputation of choking under-performing in the Champions League than with Villarreal’s chances of winning the tie?

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And even if Villarreal do end up beating Arsenal, they would have to do so with at least 3 goals because you expect Arsenal to put at least one away in such a high-profile match. And that’s before you think about Arsenal’s defensive record in the Champions League which has been excellent this season, with the Gunners not having conceded a goal for 9 games.

You would expect Arsenal to go at Villarreal all guns blazing, try to score the goal that will effectively kill the tie and then keep hitting the ‘Yellow Submarine’ on the counter. The Spaniards know this, and they will be counting on slipups from the Arsenal defense as much as their own goalscoring abilities.

Yes, that’s a dig at Sol Campbell, who comes back to the side with a point to prove. On such a big occasion Sol will not be found wanting, but I wonder if the best way to incite mistakes out of him is to rile him up – I dont think that on such a big occasion he will make silly mistakes or any serious defensive errors. The man’s got a long list of successes to point to in the past, and despite his problems this season he can still mix it with the best, even if his time is coming to an end at Arsenal.

If you have read the last few posts, you may be thinking that I have an ax to grind against Arsenal (and Chelsea). Not true. Intense rivalry at the top of the Premiership leads to an extraordinary amount of attention being diverted towards our rivals. Still, perhaps I should follow the example of my peers, brand the world hypocrites and consider ourselves the best in football.

On a more serious not, kickoff is less than two hours away. Kudos to Henry and co. for getting so far in the Champions League, and here’s to hoping that they end up in the final.

They’ve deserved it.

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.