Barcelona v Arsenal: A template for damage limitation By Twig
Arsenal has the “5 in 100” task of upstaging Barcelona right on their own turf later this evening. From a strictly sporting perspective, it is by no means an impossible job of course,
after all, this is the same game that had given us that incredible Champions league comeback against AC Milan some years ago. However, and unfortunately, this is not an Arsenal side that looks likely to overtake Leicester and Spurs in the title race, let alone pull off a miracle away to Barcelona. Indeed, ever since the 2-0 loss in the first leg of tonight’s clash the Gunners have managed to win a single game out of the 5 games they’ve played, losing significant ground in the title chase. By contrast, Barcelona has been on a free-scoring run, plunging 17 goals in 4 matches (or 4 goals per game) and sweeping away all the teams they’ve been set against.
However, even if Arsenal face an impossible task today, we must make sure we don’t suffer a humiliating defeat. Our title chances may be bleak, but you wouldn’t want to be facing an in-form Everton side on the back of a 7-0 trashing at the Nou Camp, would you? I really believe in the potential of this Arsenal side, and I believe clever tactics and game management can allow us to post a respectable showing against our fearsome opponents. These I believe are the steps Wenger and our players must take if tonight isn’t be a night to forget for all Arsenal fans.
1. Keep it 11 versus 11
In many crucial games, we’ve let ourselves down by picking up needless red cards, making our chances of getting a result even more difficult. Against Spurs, we were on the front foot after the Ramsey goal, however, a needless challenge from Coquelin had us play the rest of the game with 10 men. That really was a game that we should and could have won. The same script played out earlier in the season when we had Gabriel sent off against Chelsea even though we were the favourites heading into the tie. We cannot afford the same mistakes in tonight’s game against Barca.
2. Play Welbeck, drop Giroud
Before the first leg, I suggested Wenger played Welbeck as our main striker. Disappointingly, Wenger did the opposite and picked the relatively immobile Giroud to lead our attack. I still don’t know why he did that when playing Walcott, Welbeck or even Sanchez looked to be the obviously more effective choice. Perhaps, with only Bayern as an exception, most teams go to Barcelona expecting to see very little of the ball. It will be the same for Arsenal tonight. That being the case, we need a striker who can run in behind the Barcelona defenders any time we’re able to win the ball. We need a striker who can run with the ball at his feet and hold it up for the other players where necessary. Welbeck will offer plenty of that, Giroud will not, but may prove more effective coming on as a substitute.
3. Play with a high tempo from the start
The key to that impressive 3-0 victory against Manchester United (when the going was still good for Arsenal), was starting the game at a very high tempo. Arsenal must not give the Barcelona players any time on the ball (just like they won’t offer our players any time on the ball as well). Players like Busquets, Neymar and Iniesta must receive plenty attention from the likes of Elneny, Welbeck and Coquelin. The best scenario we could expect would be to score a goal in the first 10 minutes of the game. This is very possible. That outcome will scare the Barcelona players terribly creating gaps for the likes of Sanchez, Ozil and Welbeck to exploit.
4. Switch Sanchez and Campbell
Sanchez looks to have been found out recently on the left wing. His game has unfortunately stagnated to cutting in from the left, and trying to shoot with his right foot. It seems defenders have found him out and that trick doesn’t work any more. Whenever we play Sanchez on the left and Campbell on the right, it essentially means we don’t get crosses from the wings as both players play in an inverted fashion when used that way. Campbell also finds it difficult controlling Sanchez’s cross-field crosses as he has a very weak right foot. Against Watford, it seems Wenger has began to juggle things a bit and we saw Sanchez and Campbell interchange positions on several occasions. The result was of course very disappointing but I thought Sanchez looked far more dangerous and lively on the right wing than he did on the left. It was also from the right wing that he did eventually end his goal drought against Spurs.
5) Maintain defensive discipline
Other than that mix-up between Mertesacker and Flamini, we got the defensive part of the game spot on when we first met 3 weeks ago. We must be similarly staunch in defence this time around if we aren’t to suffer the same fate as Getafe and Eibar or worse. That means Mertesacker shouldn’t stray too high up the pitch, as the fleet-footed Barcelona forwards will try to exploit his lack of pace. Gabriel – if he plays – must be cautious not to dive in too enthusiastically into the challenge. Elneny and Coquelin must be prepared to work tirelessly all evening covering every blade of grass trying to win the ball and set up a counter attack.
Of course, all these steps won’t guarantee we get a result as Barcelona could be quite unpredictable. They could look to be reeling on the ropes for long spells before a quick-fire counter-attack ruins all your good work. In the first leg, it seemed we were gradually getting an upper-hand in the game before a quick counter-attack started by Iniesta and finished off by Messi ruined all our good work. Our main objective tonight would be to limit the damage for as long as possible and see if any opportunities open up on the other side of the pitch. For starters, Pique will not be available tonight, so we could probably get a goal or two tonight, or what do you think?
give it there best shot. thats all we ask
thats all we ever asked.
an they haven’t delivered in years
no one expects us to go through. seems they play better when the tie is already dead an theres no pressure. requires less bottle.
i reckon could be tight , draw or slight win either way
just give a gd account of yourselves lads
will help all the negativity flying around
even if we were given 100 steps to take, Barca won’t fold their arms and watch us try and take the 1st step (well unless we stop being soft bellied and become extra violent)
We should know em better by now!
Best steps to beating Barcelona is to expose their defence with numbers and movement while maintaining defensive discipline with the likes of Coq and Eleny reading the play
Elneny able to read MSN and iniesta? Lol
Unfortunately I can see us fluff 1-2 clear cut chances in the beginning. And after that its all Barcelona.
Arsene is no motivator. His words count for nothing. He speaks like disastrous defeats are a blimp and like missing the title sitting on a plate is something that’s completely ok. He has to go.
so…err…. your an akb right?
Astonishing really. I have been crying for Wenger to be sacked for 5 years and I’m an AKB? Do you know what AKB stands for?
Arsenal kicks buttocks?
You turned your back on the manager five years ago, wow, shame on you.
Why? I said “same sh1t different season” 5 years ago too, but then the shackles of Emirates were still relevant.
A bricklayer and a few labourers are required,
To beat Barcelona, well .. at least to keep a cleansheet!
Obviously… at Half-time. .. they will have to remove the wall and rebuild it at the other end ?
@Fatboy…….. Looks like u’re missing something……… A few stone crushers are also required! And like u said someone will try and break the Jericho walls and rebuild a new Jerusalem wall L()L
id like to wish a happy birthday to the player i dislike the most in our entire squad.
the wage slip bucaneer
the ten year terror
i do hope joel campbell is invited to the party
I’m sure you won’t say this if he scores the winner tonight 🙂
6.Leave Wenger in London 🙂 All the best boys i know you will loose but at least make it a lil bit honourable!
It’s alright. We Got This!
0-3 to the Gunners
positivity alert! get this man a cookie!
#we got this
0-3 yes but what?….red/yellow cards, fouls,corners, free kicks, headbutts, elbows, kicks???
@Nikk…….u are forgetting Bites, injuries and setbacks….is the physioroom under lock and key already?
“We got this” ……… Where did i hear those words before? L()L
The only thing am glad of with this game is that we get to see our team play. I expect to sit watching Barca play for near 80 minutes without us even touching the ball. I expect us to get at least a couple of real chances and I reckon we will take one of them. 2-1 (Agg 4-1)
Barca are a very accomplished team who are ready give Arsenal the ball and play around the team unless it happens in the first 10 minutes of the game. Sorry to say Arsenal don’t have a hitman like Van persie, who can contribute to the team in the best scenario. I have seen tall players like Ibra,Gomis run faster than Giroud but the player is an unwilling character. So it has to be Welbeck,Giroud,Sanchez from the start. What I am worried is Ospina he hasn’t deserved the chance to play but it has to be him. Arsenal to lose 3-0.
managed by a former bottom table manager of celta vigo ….. Luis enrique…. And they think nobody out ere’s better than wenger
This is A3. I can do bigger/custom.
More to come.
Sanchez on the right and Wenger nowhwere near th club 🙂
I think we’ve got a fantastic chance of beating Barcelona, just as long as Messi, Suarez, and Neymar are injured, and if Wenger is removed within the next couple of hours.