More positives than negatives in Arsenal loss to Barcelona

Reading some of the comments on this website following the 2-1 loss to Barcelona you would have thought that we had been beaten by Bolton 6-0.

Manic hysteria over Mustafi coming on and then Luis Suarez scoring the winner, Ainsley Maitland-Niles should be exiled to Antartica and the defence was so bad allowing the woeful Barcelona to score two whole goals in their own stadium that we are destined for a relegation battle next season.

That may sound like hyperbole but some of the comments I have read this evening are no better.

The lack of perspective I find incredible and for me, I saw far more positives than negatives in the defeat.

Here are just a few examples of what I saw in the game.

The Arsenal defence kept Antoine Griezmann very quiet all evening.

It was noticeable how much deeper Ozil was in the game and it has to be said that he steadied the ship on more than one occasion.

The youngsters Willock and Nelson did very well and were not overawed at all playing in the Nou Camp.

Maitland-Niles did some incredible runs and only his mix up with Leno marred his game.

Ceballos looked bright in the short time he was on the field.

Guendouzi has calmed his game down and no longer rushes into tackles and tries outrageous long ball passes.

Aubameyang was on fire and his sharpness is back.

Monreal was quick and decisive in his tackling and runs.

Overall, this was a good performance by Arsenal, yes there were many mistakes in defence but that is what Barcelona do to you, they pressure you into mistakes and they have done that to far better defences than Arsenal’s and so while there are some causes for concerns you cannot ignore who the opponents were.

Yes, it was just a friendly and there was no Lionel Messi but even so, this was a very decent performance by Arsenal and even in games like this, not too many teams come away from the Nou Cap having held the Spanish Champions to just a single goal for 90 minutes on their own ground and were unfortunate to lose to a last-minute winner from one of the worlds most clinical strikers.


  1. While I agree substantially with the pints you made, we must also acknowledge that :
    Maitland-Niles is not a defender, and I’m not sure he’ll ever be made into one. Apart from his unbelievable OG, his positional awareness is atrocious. He allowed Jodi Alba a free role from the right flank with chunks of acres of space to make dangerous crosses into the Arsenal box. That’s something the coaches may have to address.
    Arsenal are yet to develop the street-wise attitude for winning difficult games. You are playing Barca at their home; you have a few minutes to penalties which would make it anybody’s game. I would have expected us to concentrate all efforts at ensuring that we don’t concede again – I mean,do any thing to achieve this!
    For me, the biggest positive was Joe Willock! I hope he kicks off from here and keep his feet firmly on the ground.

    1. Maitland-Niles is playing out of position (assuming his natural talent, plentiful indeed, equips him for a midfield role) El Neny isn’t. Poor comparison.

    2. Agreed about both Joe Willock and Maitland-Niles!! The question is whether Maitland-Niles might have blossomed by being given the positions on the pitch afforded to Willock. Despite all my criticisms of Ashley (and they are many), can’t help feeling he has been the victim of circumstance (Bellerin injury/Arsenal prioritising other areas and not willing to part with money for another right full back when on paper they have many -Bellerin, Jenkinson, Chambers, Mustafi but all lacking athleticism)

  2. Maitland Niles needs to be either moved on or sent out on loan. he is a similar player to Elneny, cant really see what positives he 9they) bring. Seeing those two playing is like ‘treading water’ one step forward, one step back.

      1. And the final in Baku?? Did you not see the nightmare that was Maitland-Niles pretending to be a full back? He cost Arsenal two of the goals!!
        And check out the rest of the pre-season games. The man is an incredible athlete; good with both feet, explosive bursts of energy and a home grown product but he ain’t no full back nor will ever be. Stop the experiment now!

    1. Maitland-Niles is playing out of position (assuming his natural talent, plentiful indeed, equips him for a midfield role) El Neny isn’t. Poor comparison.

  3. Hey billy he’s a box to box midfielder playing out of position as right back, give the kid a break or his right position!

    1. Do we not have a player in the u23 who can be deputed in the absence of Hector? AMN’s defending is horrendous and this will cost us heavily.Off course Barca would have scored, but the result could be 1-1.I am not defending or slating AMN, the coaches should either coach him for that role, promote the U23/reserves or sign an understudy to Hector. This cannot be going on season after season.The reason we are not at the top is because we condone errors (do not resolve them), accept mediocre performances and accept loss (oh! it’s just one game).The onus of responsibility lies on the coaches and the players to some extent.

  4. So Antoinne Griezman was on that field yesterday? Wow. Let’s give it to the boys. They did not win the match, but they have not disgraced themselves (and us too!) by their performance.

    They can only improve and I dare to believe that Arsenal will have a good season. Especially if one or two signings can be made to help out in the defence. But as it is,to me, we are somewhere between good and great.

  5. Positives. stated willock and Nelson looked to hold their own against barca so very encouraging for the coming season.
    2.cabelos looked good.
    3.martinelli also looked good if he can learn to not try and beat the entire team. Prem he will not get away with this like he may have done back home.
    4.abu.he is going to drag us along for the season with his goals.

    Doesn’t matter how many Abu scores for us if we let in more the other end. What worries me is those games we are not firing upfront. The pressure will build as a striker if every time you step on the field you feel you have to score because you know the opposition are going to score at some point.
    We all love the beautiful game and passing out of defence etc. But sometimes good old defending of putting your foot through the ball into row z is the best option. How many times did we lost the ball either in or around our penalty box. We will get punished for this in the coming season.
    Defence will cost us goals / points / games this season. Just hope our attack can keep up with them until it can be fixed. Otherwise we could be in a similar position to last year no champions league.
    Really looking forward to seeing our attack this year but hoping for less frustration and stupid losses from the mighty arsenal.

  6. Funny how hypocritical people will be, there was no mix up between Leno and AMN. What happened was a total carelessness from AMN. It was not a matter of playing as rb but that of carelessness. Was he trying to produce non-look pass in front of his post. I bet there is another academy product that would have been crucified for even something less worst than this. It also funny the level of double standards among most fans.

    1. True.
      Unfortunately, carelessness is a trademark of AMN. He may have a lot of talent and speed, but I fear his mentality is lacking. Yesterday was not a one-off. He often “takes his eye off the ball” and he often takes unneccessary chances like dribbling in dangerous positions etc.

      1. Spot on … My predictions is that he will be ploughing his trade at qpr in a couple of years time ….

  7. If all goes well on him,we should start him,or on bench and other side why we can’t we janknson becoz is a tipical right back? Plz unai Emery look into this matter.success to gooners as season open on Sunday for them…!!!

  8. – I always rate Griezmann below other French attackers in France national football team

    – Ozil always plays deeper, because he cannot change his directions in tight spaces, which is in no 10 position. That’s why Emery had better try him as a half-winger

    – Both Willock and Nelson were confident. Nelson couldn’t dribble forward consistently because he played on the left side, but he broke a lot of Barcelona’s attacks with his interceptions

    – Maitland-Niles was very good in attacking, as usual

    – Ceballos is better in tight spaces, compared to Xhaka and Ozil. We need to a playmaker with excellent ball control to dictate the tempo and Xhaka/ Ozil are don’t possess that skill

    – Aubameyang was eager to show off at Nou Camp and he was excellent when dribbling on the right side, as usual. He is a world class striker and a good RW, so it’s not good to sacrifice him when Lacazette and Pepe are fit to play

    Monreal is still dependable despite getting slower, but I highly doubt he can play all games with high intensity

  9. Willock, Nelson and Martinelli look to be reaching a high level. AMN should be doing Mindfullness Meditation to enable him to keep his focus. Casual, Casual, Casual. Mkhitaryan and Xhaka lose the ball more often than is normal. The shape of team in the first half was exceptional though. All defending when neccessary and quickly counter attacking. Bringing on Mustafi was a manager GAFFE. Pointless. He puts the whole team on edge and his abilty to read the game is NIL. Guendouzi looked a little less prepared than the others and Willock should be a little in front at the moment. Any injury to the centrebacks means we have to play Mustafi. That cannot be allowed to happen. That will cost us points. Is Emery deluded about Mustafi? WE MUST GET A QUALITY CB or we are in trouble.

    1. Yes, Mustafi is a liability.
      But Chambers isn’t the solution either. He was as much at fault for their winner as Mustafi, and he could easily have cost a goal in the first half also.

      1. Good call. In fact, Chambo was more at fault for Suarez’s goal, but bias meant that the blame was on Mustafi.

        Suarez was in between the two of them, behind Mustafi and in front of Chambo. Chambo had a clear sight of Suarez the whole time but failed to close him down effectively.

        Chambo also miscontrolled a back pass in the box. There’s a comment in the previous article that blamed Xhaka for overhitting the pass. It was clearly Chambo’s poor first touch.

        Overall, Chambo had a few mistakes but was decent last night. Xhaka and Mustafi were poor, but that doesn’t mean we should blame everything on them because of our bias. Some objectivity would be refreshing

  10. Purchases since 2018 (Overall till date)
    Auba 8/10
    Leno 8/10
    Papa 6/10
    LT11 7/10
    Lich 3/10
    Mavro 3/10
    Guen 5/10

    2019 (Overall till date)
    Dani 7/10 (Showing lots of promise)
    martinelli 8/10 (Could be the bargain of the decade if he keeps improving)
    suarez 1/10
    Saliba NA
    Pepe NA

    Since real madrid are trying to get Von de beek or pogba arsenal must get ceballos on a permanent basis if he performs like this

    1. Looking at the performances it is clear that the old guys (signed prior to 2018) are the ones who are letting us down, the new signings have been good overall barring lichsteiner and denis suarez

  11. What do we call fans who feel that signing a LB is more important than a RB and we should just pay Celtic’s ransom for KT, then turn around and slam AMN for not being able to defend at RB or UE for playing him out of position? Hypocrites?

    Just saying that we shouldn’t be so critical of AMN and UE, when before last night, the general consensus was that it would be an atrocity not to sign a LB and less so for a RB

  12. The problem with Maitland-Niles is that he loses concentration and focus in the second half of most games. I think it is mainly due to tiredness due to excessive running in the first half. And in the second half you see him begin to attempt unsuccessful dribbles due to fatigue thereby making costly errors.That’s how he played against Chelsea in the Europa League final with his weak dribbling attempt in the second half costing us two goals in the process. I think he would do much better coming in the second half of games or play 55-60 mins and be substituted.

  13. No scoop at all, we have attack but no defense. The entire line must be beefed up, meaning 2 top CB and 1 for each wing. Tierney is a LB where we have options but none on RB since Bellerin injury. Niles is box to box we miss but play him LB.

    Emery stating we have 6CB tells a lot on his defense vision and capacity to solve a major issue he doesnt see when so obvious. Totally retarded; he palls up attacking players instead.

    We played our best team against Masia with few first team guys on and off!

    Borsmooth blew Lyon away who beat us, destroys Angers we cant beat. Tells a lot for the most sceptical. Reality we about to get wipped with no defence.

    We need to bring Cahill experience to replace Kos we losing, umtiti and mainly koulibaly first.

    Tierney and Sidibe will solve flanks for 40M total.

    That’s 150M total, we spent over to 130M (salary included) but no defense to start season with. Transfer window closes in 3 days; our cheap way has us attempting to save a penny on Tierney instead to lock him up weeks ago in order to join team and adapt before start. Anyone we bring in today will need team training to adapt, few weeks to settle. We are way behind in term of our defense which is big part of a team.

    How can you be pleased with this?

  14. Yes more positives than negatives but only as far as the young players outshining all but auba was as far as i could see,we have to hope we can outscore everyone we play because with the defensive players and usual lazy and mediocre more experienced players we have we are just as likely be leaking goals heavily again this season.

  15. chamber can NOT compete well as a CB. we have tried this severally. he is prone to error. he can not handle good striker.
    his DM role helped his awareness but he cannot read game.
    he will cost us severly if we try it. most reading of game yesterday was sone by sokratis.
    mustafi is a no no.
    if we should force koz the boss out, i will so so sorry for arsenal.
    we need defence.
    i prefer koz and sokratis pairing any day. its the best we have ATM.

    Anyone that says we have 6 defenders i only looking at first 10 games.
    by the time fatigue sets in, we will know how far.
    i scratch my head as to why beilik was sold.

    goodluck to emery though for this season.

  16. AMN is not a defender,why are we constantly using attack minded midfielders as defenders, I bet he is playing there because that is the only way he can get a run in the team,if he was being honest I bet the poor lad would say he would rather play as an out and out midfielder,it beggars belief that the coaching staff are ignoring our defensive issues, yes we have spent wisely and brought in good players but no defenders,I am at a loss to understand their thinking.

  17. Oh Martin, Martin, Martin.

    Think reoccurring themes.

    The same areas of weakness have plagued us for season upon season now.

    Many of the posts on here aren’t necessarily aimed at the Barcelona game in isolation.

    The frustration comes from the fact that we keep making the same basic errors be it Premiership, Europa, Champions league, F.A. Cup, Carabo or as last night a friendly, and for some years now have struggled to rectify the seemingly obvious.

    As for last night “didn’t matter” – ask Unai.

    It mattered alright.

    Barca’ did not want to lose that as much as we didn’t.

    A “blue ribbon” pre season game in which a win lays down a “small marker” shall we say.

    I believe Barca had already lost to Chelski pre season, they did not want to lose again this time to the Arsenal.

    Believe it or not their guy would have been placed under immediate pressure – that is the nature of their environment.

    Yes of course in terms of injuries and being reckless etc the players have to “look after themselves. But in terms of being prepared for the new season with a winning mentality, being organized, who can Unai trust and laying down a marker with a very strong result……believe you me it mattered !

    Would coming back from the states having lost all the ICC games been on track, losing to Lyon (as we did) and a draw against Angers ideal – no.

    I get your point entirely, but (in my opinion)disagree with it.

    Ask any manager worth their salt as the season draws near you want to be in good shape, winning games and with no lingering doubts (as do the players). We have those lingering doubts !

    You can tell by my length of post over a fairly simple point, that what worries me is this.

    If you allow the “it doesn’t matter” mentality in any situation at any level of our club it almost seems as though we take this into the “serous stuff” i.e there’s always next week “we’ll get it right eventually”…….approx’ a decade and waiting!

    In an Arsenal shirt….everything matters !

  18. I will never settle for less just because it’s Barcelona. We play to win and that should be the objective no matter the opponent. This defeatist attitude is what separates good teams from great teams.

  19. Apart from the money point of view of touring and friendlies the only other(s) point of them is too get fit , to blood youngsters to see where their development is and to find a cure for Mustafitis !

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