Arsenal v Barca – The positives, the negatives, and the okay!

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.

The negatives.
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.


Tags Giroud Mertesacker Messi


  1. We played well for most of the game but tbh Suarez shouldve scored right before HT, Alexis at fault for that, he did that a few times! He is so off the boil he had as many passes as the Barca keeper lol Ozil did ok but nothing special and that seems the way the team is playing and him. Ox has no confidence, thats easy to see, he shouldv buried that chance… messi had the exact same chance and scored it.
    Cech absoultly saved us at the end from Neymar from being 3-0 down, all away goals.

    Wenger ruined the game with his subs, Flaminis 1st touch was taking messi down but not all to blame as Per was silly enough to tap it down instead of puttin his foot through the ball. 2 players imo shouldve been gone a long time ago!

    We couldve and shouldve been ahead and beat this great team but i lose respect for Barca each time i actually watch them play. Never saw a team so full of play acting divers and a team who seem to get every decision for them by refs all around the world, anyone forget Vpersie at Camp Nou. Cant touch them but Alba can headbutt, Alves can cry n roll and each time they are even touched they drop like a bad of S@#T… disgusting sportsmanship by the apparent best footballing team on the planet. Reason they get so much space and time is because nobody can touch them, wants to or its a foul, just watch their games properly.

    We are not miles off in all fairness but Wenger plus deadwood need to go in the summer, even if we win the leage but in all seriousness do any of you see us doing that? A fit and firing Leicester wouldve beating Barca last night!! Utd now at the weelend if we dont win that then seasom is over bar FA cup.

  2. Sanchez was hardly the worst player yesterday but his performance justified my feeling that Wenger should bench him for this one. Many fans thought the idea crazy, but we’ve benched him before haven’t we? His passing was heavy several times as it was against Hull. Other than goals, I’ll play Welbeck ahead of Sanchez 6 days in the week, he just offers more and is better at possession. Look at what Robben and Dybala did for their teams – that’s the standard we should expect from Sanchez.

  3. I feel relieved by reading this article, plain truth.
    My regret: we lost the game when we look like winning.
    What’s wrong with our finishing??? I bet I can finish some of those chances.
    But at least we are not down without the fight! #COYFG

  4. I don’t think the subs ruined us (flame absolutely blameless for the penalty… That lies with Per). I think starting with Ox was wrong. If we wanted more defensive effort then Campbell is a clear choice… There is more afoot behind the scenes with that boy for him to suddenly fall out of favour.
    Walcott on the right was absolutely correct… Play the ball behind Alba at the 70ish min mark and let’s see who wins that race…. Welbeck in the centre absolutely right to complement TW’s speed. The Barca backline dropped deeper but we didn’t own the space between their lines to make them hurt. Our set piece play was poorly executed… We should have hurt them there. Goodness me..we really ought to have hurt them big time and I agree with AW… Technically we were very average.

    1. Campbell’s fall from favour with AW could be behind a little more than we know. Bellerin and him are big buddies and I believe Giroud and he get on really well. He seems to have been used and abused since Ox, Theo and now Welbeck have returned. It’s the kind of thing that gets the dressing room tetchy. And before one jumps down my throat, please remember the 2014 season after the World Cup when we were only left with Sanogo as striker. Joel had just played as Costa Rica’s striker he quarter finals, but AW had loaned him rather than Sanogo. Dixon said he always intended to sell him. He still does

      1. Wenger is obviously trying to keep the Ox sweet, what with his contract running down and rumours suggesting that the player is considering moving in the summer.

        Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch many games, but I saw lasts nights and to me the Ox looks as if he is mentally troubled, his mind is elsewhere!.. He is absolutely clueless on the pitch.
        He had a great chance to score from 1 yard out, but chose to fall backwards whilst hitting a lame effort straight at their keeper, who was already laying on the ground.
        And after that miss, you could see that it was playing on his mind and when we had a great chance to counter attack with 3 of our players waiting for a pass, the Ox carries on running down the wing like a headless chicken until he losses it, yet he fouls their defender in the process by leaving his leg out and spent the rest of the half in no mans land rubbing his shin, feeling sorry for himself.

        I am amazed by some fan’s who suggested that the Ox played well ?… If that was him playing well then I’m glad that i didn’t see him play in previous games, last nights performance wasn’t absolutely ? we need to sell him!… Quick!

        Same goes for Walcott ? ..what a waste of time bringing him on .. Welbeck and Campbell show much more determination in fighting for the team!..
        Yet the deluded one, supposedly knows best ?
        Maybe a decade ago ? but not anymore, he doesn’t.

        Time for some serious changes in the summer!

    2. Agreed,but the weakness in that game was Sanches who for some reason just won’t go with his left side. Welbeck at 65minute would have made a better time for Sanches so 2 strikers for Ozil to aim at set pieces. The first goal Mertisaker backed of the Barca player instead of tackling him even to give free kick that was mistake.Flamini not his fault had to attempt to do something at split second he found himself in through Per not clearin, + he should not have been the sub to come on. Wenger was at fault again in not changing earlier and wrong players to bring on.Why Ellerny not playing, even Chambers would have been better than Flamini. I think he prefers French or other national players as he certinaly can’t know, when, and who to sub that makes a difference. CB

  5. There are no positives, negatives or okays…
    It is a CL game and you have to win it if you want to access the next stage and possibly win the biggest trophy in club football (this is not the fa cup).
    We were better, we were naive, we were this or that, it does not matter… I know some fans are always trying to find something to cheer about because we don’t have much to cheer about every season, but the Blaugrana are a beast, we are no where near their status and never will be… Just a fact!

    I just hope we can win the league because I can see Ozil and Sanchez (and Cech… PSG are working on it) leave after another pointless season. (And not like we are distributing incredible wages either. Players like Walcott and Chamberlain can be happy with theirs because they know that is the best he can get for his limited talent).

    This is our best chance to win the league, our best chance. If we don’t win it, Wenger needs to fire himself (since no one else will do it) and bounce the f*ck up.

    Imagine if Leicester or Spurs (cannot say that with a straight face) win the league…??? I wonder what would be the excuses this time !

  6. lets forget barca.Lets start with those talkative manure and spuds fans.
    Beat them at their own backyard and lets see if anyone remembers the barca game.
    And win the league and fa double.
    What worries me is the easy chances we miss.They are proving to be so costly

  7. Very Simple compare our strikers to other top teams striker
    Man city – Aguero
    Chelsea – Costa
    heck even poor man utd has – Martial
    and Leceister city – Vardy
    Tottenham – Kane
    Notice something they have in common!!! Pace,Ability to take on defenders and create a chance for themselves unlike our striker who is none of that only depends on the team to create a chance for him and 90% of the time squanders the Opportunity…..THAT SUMS IT ALL FOR DEAR ARSENAL,no matter how good we are or how good we create a chance,u don’t have a good striker that can take at least one of every 4-5 chance the opponent would always have a go at punishing u

      1. Yeah, Walcott who scores all those goals, and welbeck who is renowned for his proliference in front of goal!
        They are average wingers at best, neither are top quality strikers.

  8. ox has had 5 years.
    theo 8 years
    gibbs just as long

    wengers loyalty has cost him a chance at better trophies

    its a shame. we could have become so much more then what we are.

  9. In all fairness we where okay yesterday could have been better….We took the game to them and exposed their weakness.

    Cech- Oh my I will give that man my years wages just because he deserves more (made some great saves and was really aware)

    Giroud Needs to get his head checked out- right before we conceded we had a great chance to go head..I cant even say miss read Walcotts run because he wasnt even paying attention walcott already passed him on his left then he passed to the right?????…Welbeck came on and showed more effort for the attack.

    I wanted to see Campbell play i think this match would have suited him he loves to run at people and play closer passing with Bellerin and he can lay off a good pass..I do not get why he has been benched recently?? he was getting better with more games and now we have put out his fire for no reason AGAIN!!!

    Flamini needs his contract to be terminated…yes Per gave a poor pass..but he did not have to go in to the tackle like that and he had a split second just to kick out instead he hesitated..

    The first goal we couldn’t really do to much about that we left ourself exposed looking or the goal and they hit us with a counter..

    If it had ended 1-0 I wouldn’t have felt to bad about it.

    1. Agree about Giroud looked all over the
      place same crack a year earlier.
      Walcott or Welbeck should’ve
      started up top.
      I’m not a Wenger out kinda guy but a
      change is well over due he just hasn’t
      bought what we really need to evolve.

  10. heats off for the article and the Writer..
    u analysing of this game is top top top…
    u should ryt often..
    Arsenal if thy boys play like this till end of season we will lift the EPL and The FA cup

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