Arsenal are right to be encouraged

Trevor Steven
THEY may have been mesmerised at times by Barcelona’s movement and technical ability, but, bizarrely, Arsenal will actually come out of this first leg feeling just as encouraged as the current European champions – even despite the loss of Cesc Fabregas.

Two-nil down and seemingly out of the tie, Arsene Wenger’s men showed they can still trouble the champions with the raw pace they possess, and indeed score past them when they need to most.

Wenger will also look at the absence of both Barca centre-backs Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique for the second leg next Tuesday as a major plus point, and expect the pace of Theo Walcott to play a more prominent role at the Camp Nou where visiting sides will have opportunities to counter attack.

As for Manchester United, they will certainly miss Wayne Rooney, who looked in an awful lot of pain to me when hobbling off in the first leg – more than a sprained ankle would suggest.

Here’s keeping our fingers crossed for him but all is not lost for United fans. Dimitar Berbatov has shown flashes of his best form in recent weeks and don’t be surprised to see him step up to the plate, just when his team need him most.