Thoughts: Arsenal v Barcelona by TJ
Let’s start with the positives and there were plenty.
I thought the tactics and the discipline was very good for most part. Ozil shadowing Busquets forced them wide, and in fact forced Busquets out of the centre to find the ball. We pushed them wide and easily covered their crosses. They weren’t a real threat through the 1st half and we had the better chances, we really ought to have gone into the half-time break 1-0.
The high pressing and team defensive structures were outstanding. Ramsey and Coquelin in the middle of the park were very good DEFENSIVELY (will get to the transition play) and worked tirelessly. They choked the spine. Ramsey got into the box and had a couple of good chances. Bellerin & Monreal were exceptional and definitely the best fullbacks on the park today. Kos was very good (ok gave away a foul at the edge of the area) and pretty much kept Suarez quiet all night.
We created lots of chances (finishing will be addressed). Alexis is back – no doubt…his dribbles, his first touch, his bodywork and he was hitting the target (albeit blocked). He was a very good outlet for the counter; worked hard defensively (I recall one instance when he tracked back fast and robbed Messi). Welbeck did well when he came on playing off the shoulder of the CB’s…his cushioned header down to Ramsey was another great chance and generally caused useful chaos in the Barca backline.
Pretty much can be boiled down to: 1) Two mistakes for which we got punished. 2) Didn’t finish very good chances.
Well, two lapses cost us badly. With 20 minutes to play, instinct (our attacking instinct) overtook discipline and control and we committed too many players TOO HIGH up the pitch to the attacking move on the right. Our cross into the Barca box was poor (too low and ill-directed) and didn’t give Giroud a chance, but allowed Barca to counter.
Monreal made a decision to come inside to help cover Neymar and he might be wondering whether he should have stuck with Messi and let Neymar have a ping. Who knows, I am not blaming Monreal one bit but you could see he had a decision to make (he glanced at Messi before moving in) and it took a very good pass between the defenders to get to Messi.
Per would probably want to forget that brief moment he didn’t hoof the ball out and instead tried to bring it down which left Flamini in no man’s land and opened it up for Messi – tackle, penalty.
We’re just not finishing our chances – I think this point will be covered ad nauseam.
Well I thought Ox was ok – he did track back and help Bellerin out, he provided an outlet for the counter but his touch and finish and decision-making (especially when making a pass) just isn’t there yet. Ox and Ramsey’s passing really need improving – guilty of giving away possession with errant passes. Just got to be making better decisions. Theo just didn’t make himself enough of a nuisance – a fresh Theo vs a tired Alba…honestly he looked a little lost out there but perhaps he didn’t get a lot of decent passes to make the runs.
Ozil’s role was a tough one to rate tonight because on one hand I thought his work on Busquets was instrumental in keeping Barca quiet especially in the 1st half and perhaps wasn’t playing as a true “creator-in-chief”. The reason I would say Ozil was ok – his delivery on the set pieces wasn’t at the standard we needed. We could have really hurt them with our height advantage on the set pieces and we definitely let them off the hook in this regard.
Giroud put in a good shift in attack and defensively. He protected the ball and linked up well with the speedier players; won most of the aerial balls and had a couple of good looks at goal. He played smart and put pressure on the Barca defense but really should have grabbed a goal tonight.
I think the XI who started the game can hold their heads up, but SHOULD feel disappointed by the score-line. Did we look out of our depth? No way. Were we played off the park? No way. If this is the “best team on the planet” then I would say that we’re not far off that standard.
The difference – they punished our mistakes and we didn’t punish theirs.