5 Things We Learned From The Barca Game
Editors note: This article was written by a young man named Lewis Wright who is an Arsenal fan and aspiring sports journalist, who's going to be writing a weekly piece for us here at Vital Arsenal.
This article was due to go up yesterday morning however a 'slight technical hitch' meant it only just became available to be publish .... and still not to it's full potential.
So while it is a little late please make him feel welcome, and discuss the points you do, or do not agree with in the comments section below.
5 Things We Learned From The Barcelona Match:
Confidence isn`t Everything
Nicklas Bendtner certainly talks a good game. He has claimed that he will be 'amongst the best strikers in the world` within 5 years. He`s also stated on a number of occasions that he 'deserves to start every game.`
On a recent self confidence test he even outscored Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and David Trezeguet. The test showed that 'When Bendtner misses a chance, he is always genuinely convinced that it wasn`t his fault.` It`s difficult to see who the Dane could blame for missing last night`s sitter.
He has pace, height, an excellent first touch and on occasion, an unnerving ability to finish, but if Bendtner wants to make it to the top work needs to be done on his mind not his game. His hat trick against Leyton Orient was appreciated, and superbly taken, but too many times, when he is given the chance to make a real difference, under real pressure, his usually pristine technique lets him down.
Unless he learns to accept that mistakes happen, and aren`t other people`s fault, it`s hard to see him ever making the Arsenal striker`s shirt his own.
The future of Arsenal is English
For all the pre match talk about Fabregas being back in the team, and Song being absent, the midfield held its own. Diaby was strong in the tackle and as effective in distribution as anyone else.
The moment Arsenal did create, such as the corner that led to the goal, came about when Nasri ran at the Barcelona defence with pace. Walcott would have provided an outlet; a straight route into Barcelona territory. His directness offers the team an alternative and a way of moving the ball at a speed no defender in world football can deal with.
If Guardiola has a B team full of Jack Wilsheres, as suggested, one wonders why the Barcelona B side sit 9 points off the play offs in the Segunda Division, having lost 8 times already. Thiago and Dos Santos may well be quality players, but they`re no Wilshere. At just 19 the midfielder ran the first game at The Emirates, outshining both Xavi and Iniesta. At The Nou Camp his game changed to be more defensive, but he was no less effective for it. He showed his tenacity, passion and willingness to run himself into the ground for the team.
Surely it`s a matter of when, not if Wilshere becomes club captain.
Sometimes Wenger can be adaptable
Much was made of the difference in possession, the difference in passes made, but for all their ball retention it took a Fabregas howler to allow Barcelona to score. Until that point, and indeed, until the red card, Barcelona probed but with no real incisiveness.
Arsenal looked solid and were able to adapt their game to accept there would be fewer chances early on, but to hold on for more quality ones later in the game.
Each time Arsenal have faced Barcelona in the last 2 seasons they have finished the game strongly, scoring goals late on in two of them. For all the fanfare about passing 5 yards sideways over and over, Arsenal are a much fitter and stronger side than Barcelona, and 11 vs 11, history shows they could have expected a much greater chance of holding on to the game and coming back later on. Would Van Persie have accepted the gift that Bendtner spurned? The stats would say yes.
The Referee Choked
Much of the fuss about Van Persie`s dismissal centres around whether he heard the whistle or not. It`s irrelevant. One second passed between the whistle and the shot. One second to react and counter an instinct to score.
The bitter irony is that the very reason that RVP couldn`t hear a whistle is the very same reason the decision was made; crowd noise.
Barcelona is not 'more than club,` it`s just another club
Guardiola crowed about a reserve side packed full of young world beaters. Yet at the last European U21 Championship, England beat Spain on route to the final.
The club`s Director of football Raul Sanllehi claimed he was 'shocked` by the transfer spending in England over the winter saying about Torres` move to Chelsea that 'Barcelona would not make that signing. We would not even consider it.` Barcelona had to borrow £125 million just to pay the team`s wages earlier last year, in the main due to the fact that in the last year only Real Madrid and Manchester City spent more than their 113 million Euros outlay. The year before it was 90 million, with the club spending 66 million Euros on Zlatan Ibrahimovich. He made 29 appearances for the Catalans before leaving to head back to Milan, on loan, for free.
The club claimed Arsenal were 'morally wrong` for using the Spanish League as a 'fishing pond`, and that clubs should choose local talent. Messi was 12 when he moved 6,000 miles to Barcelona, and in the fabled B team there are 'local` products of the youth academy from countries including Brazil, Canada, England and The Netherlands.
Xavi gave an interview to The Guardian where he professed to be a 'football romantic,` and that 'Some youth academies worry about winning, we worry about education.` That education saw Abidal and Valdes see fit to grab RVP round his throat. That education regularly see its players fall to the ground after little to minimal contact and then wave imaginary cards when a foul is given.
Next season the 'more than a club` will be sponsored by the Qatar Foundation, from a country where homosexuality is illegal, dissident bloggers are arrested and Amnesty International have released several warnings about human rights violations.
They may have lost last night, but Arsenal have no reason to believe that Barcelona are superior in anything other than results.
Article written by Lewis Wright