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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

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The Journalist

Writer: Rocky7 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday March 10 2011

Time: 5:47PM

Your Comments

Plenty of good points there..keep it up Lewis!!
Re the third point, I keep hearing people say that Arsene got his tactics wrong but I agree with you he got them perfectly right and if it were not for a moment of madness from our captain and a moment of sheer stupidy from the ref I think our boys handled them pretty well and as you said we te d to get stronger as the game goes on.
The looked so one sided that i find it hard to believe we got anything other than pummel and we were forced onto the back foot, but it's happened a couple of times now and out of the the games we've played we got two positive results in the last 12 months against barca .... that leads me to believe that it could have been a tactic. But was it the right one? I guess we'll never know.
Rocky I honestly feel that if we had played any other way they would have ripped us apart well before the sending off. The only really disappointment for me (apart from the result of course) was that we couldn't string more than three passes together. I found myself feeling furious when I saw us with possession and our players just standing around rather than looking for space so the player with the ball could have an outlet.
Bendtner risks just the sort of criticism he gets by talking himself up so much (not that all that is published is what he's actually said) but his goal scoring based on appearances is actually pretty impressive. When you factor in that he's at an age in which TH14 pretty well only just started his goal scoring feats and RvP was still a player with his own shortcomings then his confidence won't be a handicap to him. He has plenty to work on and his failure to take the chance that came his way was costly as was Henry's chance against Barca in the 2006 final. Good stuff Lewis - hope to read a lot more.
I cant stand barca, i a veeeery deep deep hate towards them, and i hate uefa even more, im so *****ed and mad, im lost for words. And when i read the article on daily mail which martin samuel made, watching those pictures, i was deeply disdurbed, i was ready to commit murder on these ********s. But back to this article, this article is good, eased me up a lil, good piece of work mate
From the author: Thanks for comments, all appreciated. I'll address a couple: - It hurt to write what I did about Bendtner, and I really hope I'm wrong, but I do feel there has to shift in his mentality if he wants to be truly great. An acceptance that he is young and has lots to learn would be a good start. Barcelona had 2 shots on goal before the goal, and one of those was from 25 yards, hardly a battering. Glad to be writing for the site
Your fifth point about Barcelona was a little bitter no?
Bendtner... does not have pace. In fact he is the slowest among all Arsenal strikers. Vela included.
well luis you have got 1st 4 points spot on,but the fifth one i gotta disagree,whats ur problem with qatar,homosexuals should shut up and keep their genitals in their pants while in qatar,its a muslim country and muslims have their own laws which are very good try to respect other countries and their religions as well like we muslims respect your religion.and now about the match,i must say i didnt expect that much dominance from barca.for goodness sake look at the stats.arsenal didnt have a shot on goal in 90 mins.what the hell is this?Chelsea went to camp nou and parked the bus but still had some shots on goal and on target as well,but what arsenal were doing?you were better than last year but u r still far behind barca's class thats why they won.and for van persie's red card,i do have sympathy for you it really killed the game.we suffered too against barca by mf ovrebo in ucl sf 09.But dont worry Blues will beat these catalans for you,so cheers arsenal mates and best of luck for the league and FA cup
Excellent points Lewis. Re Bendtner-sometimes I just think he overthinks things-that's what I think happened on Tuesday. He needs to learn to...well..."just do it", just take the shot immediately & not give opponents the time to react. As Amos said, he's done pretty well already for his age.
If Bendtner is claiming that he will be among the best strikers within 5 years that implies an acceptance that he is still young and still has to get there. It's too easy to damn people with the words of others.
Good point Jaelle, I think a little more incisiveness would be a good thing for his game. Amos, that's a good point and I hadn't thought of things from that angle. I do admire his confidence, I just hope it doesn't stop him from becoming as good as he can be. When I say he's pacey I mean it in relative terms. Obviously compared to the rest of the squad, not so, but compared to other strikers, he can certainly stay clear of a defender. Huddersfield - no bitterness, just a sadness that Barca have become so smug with their play. The whole 'moral superiority' is wearing a bit thin.' If you say you're better than the rest, which they do on a regular basis, then you have to accept that people will point out when you don't meet such ridiculous standards. FORCA. I'm going to assume you're writing under the guise of some Alan Partridge esq. comedy creation where we're supposed to laugh at the character. If so, spot on, you've satirised a hate filled bigot very well.
you had 45 min with 11 men an done nothing, you sat back and it failed baldy, just like teams that visit the emirates, we were outplayed last night but at least we tried to attack. amazing stat you have now
I have to be honest here. I didnt see the match that day. I had a very big argument with my wife on the night and didnt watch the game that I've been waiting soo long. But I'm glad i didnt see it, coz I would have broken the tv in half had i have to endure the ******** Barca players and their ****ish and COWARDLY attitude which went unpunished, and a JOKE of a referee who ruined an IMPORTANT game for us once more. I did however saw the 1st half of the game on another day, and i saw nothing amazing about barca's play which ive been reading all over the news. the was these anti arsenal writers and barca suckups been writing articles, i thought we played like ass, but it was clear as daylight to me when i saw the 1st half that, it was wenger's tactic!. Arsenal ALLOWED barca to have tohose possesions and was gladly letting them work their ass off in the 1st half. I'm very sure in the second half once barca would have tire themself to the ground, wenger would have put in Denilson and Arshavin in place of Diaby and Rosicky and went for an all out attack. With Denilsons fresh legs and wilshere's workhorse, coupled with Arsha-Nasri-Cesc-Wilshere ball retentionship, we would have gained ground in midfield and chipped away their possesion percentage away. With a strong defensive backline who was very admirable in every respect. They were unpenetrable if not for cesc's callous mistake. But the referee ruined it all by sending robin away for another match *****up for Arsenal by referee. Thats why Arsenal and Wenger felt soo aggrieved. They ditn feel as though they were played of the park by some angelic team from heavin. They were just bidding their time as per their tactics. BUt the rest of the world is soo oblivious to this and its easy to see how anti Arsenal they are, eager to rub salt into injury everytime when it involves Arsenal. The Media was filled with how Barca play a pressing game soo good. But from what I saw in the 1st half. Theres nothign special about it. Arsenal was equally able to do it, but they were just waiting their time to do it in the second half if not for that *****er. I'm soo *****ed off. And I belive Wenger is 200% right when he said Arsenal would have qualified 11 vs 11. And i suspect Guardiola knows that, and he is right if he told Guardiola to thank the referee for the result. Why the ***** this always happen to Arsenal? Barcelona players were play acting everytime arsenal launch attack into their half and goes unpunished. And yet when barca went unpunished with their aggresive tackling, even getting away with scum like actions on RVP. This is a murder of an English team by the officials hell bent on allowing barca to go through and not willing to concede that another team that play the passing game can finish off barca. NO it was too hummiliating to allow that to happen to Barca. Not in the Eropean premier championship. I still cant understand how come the referee who wants to use the rule by the book for arsenal and punish an incident due to 1 second can allow all those playacting and card waving and throat grabbing by those BARCA WHORES??? HOW? are those the level of sportmanship by the "More than a club"? its a *****in BIAS i say. I relish another go with Barca anytime. With the players we have and the defence we gotwe would kill them off easy.
Well done Lewis very well put together. I do agree with Amos about Nick and i really think we can wait for him. All your points regards barca are spot on. I have been ranting on about that this Barca team are not up to the standard of past Barca teams. IMO they are ***** primary because but for a ref who spent time laughing drinking and smiling during a break beat a team who take all before them. People who come on here saying they never had three passes etc are forgetting in the first half they had two TWO bloody shots on goal. Yes they scored but that was in the extra time allowed and due to a fu@k up by Cesc. Within two TWO minutes of us getting a goal the so called ref sent RVP off. I think the Uefa need to see his bank balance, because his decision stinks. % yellow yellow cards and none for them. I had to check my tv twice as i couldnt see the hallo's. Yet clowns keep telling me we were out played, out played my arse. But hey they have a right to express their opinion and this is what this site is for. Lets rip manure apart and win the EPL. Go you gunners.
Well done Lewis very well put together. I do agree with Amos about Nick and i really think we can wait for him. All your points regards barca are spot on. I have been ranting on about that this Barca team are not up to the standard of past Barca teams. IMO they are ***** primary because but for a ref who spent time laughing drinking and smiling during a break beat a team who take all before them. People who come on here saying they never had three passes etc are forgetting in the first half they had two TWO bloody shots on goal. Yes they scored but that was in the extra time allowed and due to a fu@k up by Cesc. Within two TWO minutes of us getting a goal the so called ref sent RVP off. I think the Uefa need to see his bank balance, because his decision stinks. % yellow yellow cards and none for them. I had to check my tv twice as i couldnt see the hallo's. Yet clowns keep telling me we were out played, out played my arse. But hey they have a right to express their opinion and this is what this site is for. Lets rip manure apart and win the EPL. Go you gunners.
nevidimka could not agree more well written mate.
these spuds trolls are becoming constant facepalms, as are UEFA, as is Barcelona...
NO yellow for Barca? Tht makes it worse. Those scums were playacting and even had time to look at act when arsenal wonpossesion right outside their penalty box to launch an attack. Those scums have been doing that all night. manhandle arsenal players to win the ball back, and if cant, drop down, and play act as if they have been stabbed. That gets the referee to blow the whistle and cancel the arsenal move. This is called the perfect football? Most amazing football?? OMG!!!.. those ****s were *****in terrified of us and our ability to punish them and dump them out of the CL. They had to resort to these UGLY COWARDLY tactic in order to stop us plus a HUGE HELP from the referee who CLOSED 1 eye to officiate the match. RVP was ABSILUTELY right when he said the ref has been bad all day. and that he doesnt know what the REFEREE was doing there. ON equal footing with fair play(no playacting) and 11 vs 11 with a fair referee, Barcelona would have lost that tie 9/10 times that night. Its as simple as that. We were just dumped out of the CL, not because we met a brilliant team, but we were dumped out of the CL by a referee whose paychecks come from Barca.
123 spud, you were at home against Milan lest you forget. It was a pedestrian performance where you were comprehensively outplayed by a team with a fraction of Barcelona's strength.
We did nothing 11 v 11 123? We were winning the tie outright with 11 v 11, hardly "failing miserably." Bendtner's confidence is exactly the type of thing that will help him move on and forget the miss. It shan't buy him much stock with the fans- particularly as Denilson was an unused sub on the night and Almunia played a blinder, leaving him as the sole voodoo doll of the team. But nobody gives him credit when he does anything good so that'll not bother him too much. Nice work Lewis.
Little Dutch
Deltaforce, so be it. We are in quarters though. Its not our fault you got Barca. Its your fault. You have to live with it. I will give a honest opinion : There is no disagreement that you got a very rough decision. But are you happy with the response from your team, from that point on. All Arsenal reqd was 1 goal to go thro, yet in the final minutes of game there was no urgency. In most knock out games, in such circumstances even the goal keeper goes forward to the box to get a goal. But here, leave out Goal keeper, even your forwards didnt get into the box or midfield trying get a long ball into the box in the final minutes. This is a worrying sign for me. Once Bendtner missed at 87min, the game was thought as, as good as gone. Mental strength is one key attribute missing from Gunners this year, thats the one reason, so many gmaes are drawn/lost from winning positions.
sydqcb5, you, like the people that say silly things like, "yeah but how would Barcelona cope with Stoke?" miss a simple point. Barca simply don't give the ball up even against 11 men. So even putting aside the fatigue issue, if you ain't got the ball, throwing your keeper forward probably isn't a good idea. It's Barca's greatest and simplest defensive tactic. We won't give you the ball, so you can't hurt us.
Little Dutch
I'm a chelsea fan but I agree 100 % wenger on his comments about Uefa.. It's them that should apologize to Arsenal and English football in general. ******** pigs!
LD or Amos in fact any one with the knowledge how does the UEFA decide if the ref has missed a possible red card? There were three instances of red card or minimum yellow cards not being issued to barca.. Two round the throat actions and the keeper elbowing Cesc. All were intentional and deliberate. Last but not least I understand they review the ref's performance but no one is allowed to see their performance; what a load of boll@ks. Its long over due where the ref's performance is made public.
UEFA decide much the same way as the FA do. If the media tells them to dole out punishment, they do. Otherwise, they just ignore it and go back to debating important issues. Like snoods and how big the sponsorship logo on a football should be in next season's Champions League.
Little Dutch
sydqcb5, obviously you are in the quarters now but that by itself does not count for anything. The challenge is to go further and still maintain your position in the league - thats something we have done successfuly for the past 14 years. Its no piece of cake as some of your more blinkered fans will soon find out.
Enjoyed your write up on the other blog. Always thought you had no hair.
Deltaforce, what the hell are you talking about. Did I talk about your tittle chances. I just gave my honest opinion on the match. From what I see, you didnt like it one bit. Fair enough. I do give it to you for the record, that Arsenal is a strong contender and we are obviously not. But the way you have written, I think you feel threatened and writing something so irrelevant.
Nevidimka, I like the way you described Wenger's game plan. Much like Mohammed Ali's rope-a-dope tactics which worked against the best heavyweights of that era. Hahaha! Seriously, I agree with Wenger that at 11 men both sides, we would have gone through. Just imagine if the game got to the 75th to 80th minute at 1-1; Barca will show nerves and begin to get careless. Then Wham! A fast break (like it happened with the Bendtner miss) and we could have even won the game. The better team doesn't always win a game. For those who revel in stats, I recall that Inter had less possession than we did at the Camp nou, defended for the whole game and only conceded a goal at the dying moments of the game, yet, they won that tie in April 2010. Guess what, the stats showed 0 Shots on target. Opta realized their error in celebrating Arsenal's stats and put out some graphics yesterday to show one miscued shot by Chivu (wasn't even on target) as proof that Inter had 1 shot on goal. All a bunch of jokers.

As for 123Spurs, I don't doubt that if it was the 1st leg at the Camp Nou, it will be a different game plan. We had a solid lead to defend against the best side on the planet, so it can be argued that 'parking the bus' is a very good tactic, only Cesc made that back heel error and we didn't anticipate the vengefulness of the Ref. Spurs have been lucky to play away first and even at that, AC Milan, with it's horde of retirees, gave you a very hard time at your home ground; you were not even in that game and don't tell me that was the plan as you were outclassed at home. Still congrats on qualifying; Sandro did have a good game and is a good buy for European nights, apparently. Now, it's back to placing well on the EPL table; that is the true test.
...Nice article, by the way, Lewis.
LD you don't need the ball all the time to hurt a team. You can give it to them and then hit them on the break. This is how teams beat Arsenal. The problem is not just that Barcelona keep possesion, it's their extraordinary ability to press to win it back. It's total football in every regard.
Henry Baker Brown
And people forget that in the first leg agains Inter last season Barca had to travel by coach and this year's side is even better than last years, which was missing Iniesta and had no Pedro or Villa.
sydqcb5, maybe if you read my comment again you will see that I refer to how hard it will be for Spurs to maintain the same league position as they had last year WHILE competing in the CL. The only one lashing out like a child is you here.
firstly, nice article dude :) secondly, bendtner does NOT have a good first touch. if he had one, he would have scored on barca towards the end of the game.
Having watched the game 3 times now I'm one of those who think Wenger got this one wrong on a tactical level. He gambled massively on a defensive formation and although incredibly it almost came off for us the odds in the end were far too great. Given the valid questions about the refereeing and Barca's gamesmanship the best form of defence for us was always going to be attack. Score goals. Give them a problem. Giving that much possession to Barcelona without exerting much pressure in return (on what was a flaky Spanish defence) was simply suicidal. Barca battered us virtually the whole 1st half and should have been awarded a penalty. In fact we were lucky to go in only 1-0 down at half time. The one goal we got back illustrated clearly that Barcelona's defence was weak. It was simply criminal that we didn't test it more, even by using medium-long ball where necessary. Cesc was arguably a virtual passenger for most of the match and should have been off earlier. RvP was clearly not fully fit, which made the late deployment of Arshavin and Bendtner mystifying. Chamakh might well have caused Barcelona to think twice about committing so many forward as well as being a real threat aerially. I have to say many things did not make sense to me. I agree with some who say Wenger actually deserted the attacking principles he's espoused all these years. I really don't buy all this 'Barcelona are unbeatable' nonsense, or even that it was impossible to get the ball off them. We did get it off them. The problem was what we did with it once we had. We tried to out pass them in our own half. Madness. We showed they are beatable in the first game when we decided to really attack in the second half by going long. And I don't believe we had to wait for Barca to get tired to attack either. They’re vulnerable to pace and balls played behind midfield. They like to compress play, they don't like chasing back for the ball. Did we take advantage of that? I really don't think we did.
Wyn Mills
Waste of time arguing with you Wyn you see Barca as a shinning light of football greatness. The side that beat us 4-1 and drew with us 2-2 yep right no argument from me but this load of crap give me a break. Lookup to them by all means that is your opinion mine there a load of crap assisted by a ref (5 yellows to our players, none to Barca)who could be arguable being paid to make sure Barca win; is that a sign of a great team who use every trick in the book to win a free kick, hack and try to choke two of our players around the throat. Sorry in my book there a load of sh@t. Half time two shots on goal, two minutes after we scored an equaliser RVP sent off we are reduced to 10 men. Watch it twenty times (me it makes me puke)and the if you take off those Barca glasses you wear perhaps you might have a different opinion but i doubt it.
I'm amazed that people seem to think it would have been as easy as "let's attack." You need the ball to do that! Barca don't give it up. We attacked last year and the game was over at half time. Barca had 3 shots on target prior to the red card and we knew full well from past evidence that we can finish games stronger than they can. Had we gone and attacked and lost I struggle to think of the invecive that would have been flung Wenger's way when we inevitably lost. van Persie looked perfectly fit and mobile to me, he just didn't get the ball. The fact is we were playing a phenomenon of a team who are clearly better than us (and everyone else on the planet) and we were winning with the tie 11 v 11. Eve at 11 v 11, we were always going to be up against it as any side in the world would be. I am utterly astounded that people can criticise the tactics.
Little Dutch
Wyn, can you honestly say that you wouldn't have criticised Wenger for "only knowing how to play one way" and "lacking tactical nous" if we had gone all out in the first half at the Nou Camp and come undone? There is enough statistical data about the game to suggest that our passing completion rate was very poor because of the hounding that the opposition did. If our passing is off gear, the only other option is to maintain defensive shape and try and hit them on the counter. That was exactly what RvP was trying to do when he got the aerial chip which he smashed wide of his right foot. If RvP had been on there would doubtless have been more instances where we used the aerial route to find him and bypass the Barca midfield.
Think back to how van Persie scored in the first leg.
Little Dutch
Absolutely spot on Tim. All we hear is about how Wenger doesn't have a plan B. Yet he puts plan B into effect, he's slagged off. As you say, we were leading the tie up until the point that RvP was sent off. Did we use plan B as effectively as we could have? Probably not, Cesc's brain fart didn't help matters either .... but we were winning, and that's a fact, then van Persie went off and they had 3 times as many shots after he was sent off than they did before ... in a third of the time. As I've said aswell, in two out of the three previous games we've proved were better than them at the end of a match, and even though we were down to ten men, we still nearly finished them off again.
AG, I'm not blind to Barcelona's gamesmanship and neither do I see them as shining examples of all that's great in football. We, however, are never going to progress as a club if we're blind to our own shortcomings. LD, Its not a question of simply 'let's attack', its a matter of taking advantage of your opponent's weaknesses. Simply put, we didn't. As for the argument that they were so good we couldn't get the ball off them...well I'm sorry but that doesn't wash with me. We stood off them for large swathes of the game. Only Jack really did any pressing. Watch Cesc and Diaby during that match and you'll see what I mean. Diaby's defending for the second Barcelona goal was comical as he had stood so far off his opponent Iniesta and co had time to sit and draw diagrams before launching the move. The goal was well overdue. DF, in terms of the other option ... that's the point. I don't think we hit them often enough on the counter. You don't have to over commit to do it either. It really doesn't matter how brilliant your opponents are, if they're susceptible to a long ball counter-attack then why not use it more? Inferior teams use the tactic often enough against us. I would rather have lost that match by putting up a fight than meekly surrendering possession time and time again. What on earth is wrong with a speculative punt upfield followed by a pacy striker like Chamakh or Arshavin? It would at least have relieved the relentless pressure and given our opponents something to really think about. How can anyone be sure we would have beat Barca at the death if RvP was still on the pitch? Does history always repeat itself? I think we're desperately trying to find excuses for failure outside the team.
Wyn Mills
You call that a plan B? See how many your opponents can score during 75 minutes and then try to outscore them in the last 15. Oh that's worked at the Emirates (we'll forget the disallowed Messi goal for a moment), so obviously it must work at Camp Nou! Unfortunetly it does rely on all your players being fit and on the field at the end of the match.
Wyn Mills
The ref could'nt wait to get the red card out. Barcelona are bullet proof in the UEFA set up. The tactics were right, up to RvP getting sent off...we all know at Chelsea about dodgy refs, and Drogba was right..its a fecking disgrace!!
Wyn they only had 4 shots on target before RVP was sent off. One was that freekick which injured Scezny, another when Djourou held of Villa and he only got a weak shot off, A Messi shot which went down Almunia's throat as Kos and clichy lunged to close him and the goal. Although they dominated passing, possession and every stat out there they didnt actually trouble our keeper that much. Until the sending off that is
Wyn, the point was we didn't have to beat Barca at the Nou Camp in 90 mins, we had to prevent them from scoring 2 more goals than us. With 11 men we would have made getting those two more goals that much more difficult. I agree with you about the underperformance of Cesc, Diaby and Rosicky. Dont agree about the tactics, yes we would have liked to play our usual game but when it did not come off we were coping pretty well with a Plan B till RvP was sent off.
So we try the speculative punt upfront, Bendtner wins the header and he needs…..midfielders running onto the knockdown. Now, chances are if you've got your midfielders too far up the field, the percentages show the knowckdowns will more likely reach a defender then attacker. Now you've got a problem. You've got Diaby and Cesc advanced and Barca have won the ball. Barca's best chance of the first half came from a counter attack on the rare occasion we did push men forward. We stood off because if you push them they pass around you. They're not unbeatable, but they're damn close to it. Tactics such as "punt it to the big man" may sound decent ideas in retrospect, but it's pure Playstation stuff. Trust me, when you watch Barca in the flesh, it simply ain't that easy. We're an inferior side, we went for tactics that worked for us when we were 11 v 11. It is impossible to completely master Barca defensively and let them have zero shots, you're going to have to ride your luck at times. But to restrict them to 3 shots on target and be leading the tie with half an hour left boded well until the referee intervened. If that's meek surrender, then I say give up watching football, because you'll never be satisfied with any of it.
Little Dutch
Paul, You forgot Adriano's post thumper. In any case I'm looking more at opportunties than shots on goal I'm not denying we didn't defend well during the match. Its just that I didn't see a real strategy to get forward when we had the chance. I may be wrong, but its my opinion.
Wyn Mills
LD, a bit simplistic to say 'punt it to the big man'. Not what I mean at all. What we've learned in the past from playing Barcelona is they don't deal very well with fast counter attacks on the flanks. That's what scares them so much about Walcott. They know if Adriano and Alves have bombed forward it leaves them exposed. I felt we might have exploited this a bit more with Rosicky and Nasri, even in the first half.
Wyn Mills
btw, Terrible images coming out of Japan. Hope there isn't more to come. Was in Tokyo last year and really liked the place.
Wyn Mills
"What on earth is wrong with a speculative punt upfield followed by a pacy striker like Chamakh or Arshavin?" A quote from your post Wyn. You did suggest the punt upfield. Counter attacks on the flanks without the presence of Walcott and Nasri being bested by Daniel Alves on the day did not come off either.
Hope chelsea draw Barca. We will show them who is the better team. No ovrebo to help them this time(i hope).if uefa wants barca to win the champions league everytime , just organise a seperate champions league cup for them and just enter barca alone in it.
I fail to see your need to impress it on everyone that we didn't get things right and you perhaps, had the answer. What is it? You want Wenger's job?
*Wyn Mills, that is.
Naijagunner I have a different opinion to some of you (most by the looks of it). That's all. I don't want to impress anything on anyone.
Wyn Mills
The main statistic from the second leg against Barca is the number of shots on goal by Arsenal: Zero. No other team in the history of the CL had failed to make at least one shot on goal during a match. Does this historical statistic lead to not one thing learned from the game?
spurs in brasil
The article argues that Barca will 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. Yes, and Arsenal have "Fly Emirates" on the front of their kit.
spurs in brasil
Nice debut performance from Lewis. I do agree with the 3rd point that Arsene did change his tactics. He was banking on Barca tiring out in the last 30 minutes. And then he would have brought on Arshavin and other striking options. But then the reduction of our players to 10 just killed the game. All credit to Massimo Bussa****.
Wyn, I also think we had to get it down the flanks and deliver crosses into the box for our strikers to attack. For that reason I wanted Chamakh to come on for Fab rather than B52. Barca are weak defending crosses and you don't need to look further than our goal by Biscuits to see where they lack strength. I think out strategy could have incorporated taking it down the flanks and putting in crosses for Chamakh or B52 or both. And if not allowed to cross then at least earn a corner or two so that we can get our big men forward to attack them aerially. That is huge weak point of Barca and we could have exploited it
...Which was how we got our goal in the 1st place; a corner kick. Look, every top team that has gone to the Camp Nou, moreso for a 2nd leg CL game against the current Barca side, has been made to look ragged, prior to being beaten; they just step things up a notch for the opposition, it seems. It became safe to be defensively solid and look to hit them on the counter, but with them harrying us down as soon as we had possession and without the right personnel, it was important to be patient in the hope they'll tire in later stages. Alas! A red card to our top striker, just when the momentum was in our favour unnerved the team, while encouraging Barca, forcing us back into defensive mode. The Barca team are beatable, but a team will need to have certain factors working in its favour to do so at the Camp Nou, not least of all, a fair arbiter. Post mortem is over for me. We have an FA cup game to think about.
Nice article - apart from the bit where it says Bendtner has an "excellent first touch". Not the Bendtner I've been watching, that's for sure, that's probably the weakest aspect of his game.
In a sense Barca were like us against a smaller team that defends well and suckers us. We could have done the same to them had it not been for Bussaca. People praise teams that come to the Emirates and do nothing but park the bus and try to nick a goal somehow. And that's what we tried to do against Barca but no no no. The press will always say Barca were the better side and they deserved to win never concentrating on the fact that we were leading the tie against the best team in the world(possibly the best team ever) on aggregate at 1-1 with 11 men. And if I'm not mistaken until we were down to 10 men Barca hadn't mustered more than 2 shots on goal for all their possession.
Spurs in brasil 1: The Qatar foundation is an initiative run by the Qatar Government that directly controls the education in the country, so Barca are being sponsored by the Sheikh himself. The same Sheikh who makes homosexuality illegal etc. 2. Fly Emirates is a private corporation that operates with no political motive. To tie it to the UAE (which actually has the strongest human rights laws in the Middle East) would be like suggesting BA is mouth piece for the British Government. 3. Arsenal have no banners around the ground claiming to be 'More than a club.'

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