Rohan Ricketts: "If Van Persie Plays, Arsenal Go Through..."

And if he doesn't, then I see Barcelona winning. Prediction? Barcelona will win 2-0, but you'll have to read on to find out the scorers...
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And if he doesn't, then I see Barcelona winning. Prediction? Barcelona will win 2-0, but you'll have to read on to find out the scorers...

Whatever happens in the Nou Camp tonight this is going to be another game to remember. It’s got it all, from Fabregas returning to his old club and Guardiola saying that it is easier to play for Arsenal because “there is no pressure to win trophies.”

It seems we won't know until near kick-off whether Robin van Persie will play or not and I think he is so crucial to the way Arsenal play that there are two scenarios for this game. If van Persie plays, even without Theo's pace alongside him, I think Arsenal are going to go through.

It might sound crazy because they haven’t been playing well but these players showed what they can do in the first leg, they like playing in the biggest games, and against Barcelona they get the chance to play in the style that suits them best.
Van Persie is not just a goalscorer, he retains possession well, creates chances for others, will stretch the Barca defence across the line and is dangerous at free-kicks. Chamakh and Bendtner are good players; Chamakh has a great presence on the box and Bendtner has a bit about him, or thinks he does, but neither has the guile, touch or vision of van Persie.

If Nasri and Arshavin are at the top of their game with van Persie playing in the middle, Arsenal are a different team, and they will be more confident knowing that the main man is up front.

You also have to remember that Barca are missing Puyol and Pique. Those two would be missed by any team in the world, and Abidal, Milito or whoever plays instead are just not the same players. It's that simple. If Nasri and Arshavin are at the top of their game with van Persie playing in the middle, Arsenal are a different team, and they will be more confident knowing that the main man is up front. They need to draw 0-0, 1-1 or win 1-0 and they have much more chance of doing it with RVP, Barca will also be more nervous because van Persie can get a goal from anywhere and in a split second, but they will be glad that Walcott isn't playing.

Remember what I said in the first-leg about his pace, even Pep Guardiola said how dangerous he is. Barcelona play a very high line and the Nou Camp is a massive pitch, so it is up to the wide players to exploit every inch of it and take the game to Barcelona. Without van Persie I just can’t see it happening. Barcelona will get more possession without him on the field, and although I don’t think Szcsesny and Koscielny will dwell on what happened against Birmingham, they will have to be prepared for an onslaught.

After my Mystic Meg impression in the last leg I guess you’re looking for some predictions off me! I can’t predict an Arsenal score if Van Persie plays, I just think that they will have enough to go through. But without him, I’m going for 2-0 Barcelona. Messi and Pedro, the assassin, to score.

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