Arsenal v Barcelona: 3 things that could shape the outcome of Champions League game

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Arsenal v Barcelona is a Champions League game to really whet the appetite.

The Champions of Europe against the English team that by popular decree is one that plays the most beautiful football, even if it's not winning football all of the time. Therein lies the problem.

The Gunners just haven't had what it takes both domestically or in European football to get over the line over the last few years.


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A couple of FA Cup victories aside, the team from the red half of north London really haven't had too much to crow about.

And the joke is wearing thinner than ever for their fans now. Beat this incredible Barcelona side however, and all will be forgiven. Let's take a look at three things that could shape the outcome of this one.

Whirling dervish

Alexis Sanchez has got more riding on this game than most.

The Chilean whirling dervish was rotated with Pedro in his final season at Barcelona to accommodate Neymar who, at that time, was nowhere close to the player he is now.

For a player who regularly found the net and was always willing to go to war for the Catalans - which was more than could be said for some of his team mates - it wasn't the right way to treat him.

Step forward Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman's pursuit of the player paid off. And how.

Player of the Year in his first season, Sanchez is one of the first names on the team sheet. And he'll want to show the Catalans exactly what they've been missing.

He'll sit on the shoulder of the last defender and be a real nuisance throughout. Strong, energetic and purposeful, Barca will have their work cut out to keep him quiet for 90 minutes.

Foot race

Barca love to work the wings where possible with both wing backs overlapping at will.

Dani Alves one side, Jordi Alba the other. Regular as clockwork.

The Brazilian is showing his age now and it might not be too long before he's replaced by Aleix Vidal on a more permanent basis.

Far too often Alves is caught out of position and is unable to get back if the opposition should counter.

Not so Alba. Until now.

Hector Bellerin is another ex-Blaugrana who will absolutely give Barca's left-back a run for his money. 

This particular foot-race is likely to be one of the highlights of the match, given than Bellerin has been timed as quicker than Usain Bolt over 40 yards.

Alba will be better served staying at home more often than he goes marauding up the line.

Cech mate

Arsenal's credential's are going to be sorely tested but it's worth pointing out that Barca have never beaten them at the Emirates Stadium. The damage has always been done in the second leg at Camp Nou.

For the third meeting in succession, the Catalans have the second leg at home so whilst they'll want to give a good account of themselves in London, there is a fall-back option.

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez will run rings around the defence given half the chance so Petr Cech needs to be at his very best.

The holder of the most ever clean sheets in the Premier League could really do with one in Europe's most glamorous cup competition.

Barca have always had an away goal to build from when meeting Arsenal. How much will the tide turn in the north Londoners favour if they're unable to get one here?

What do you think the outcome of the first leg will be? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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UEFA Champions League
Luis Suarez
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Lionel Messi

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