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Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona

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Barcelona dominated Emirates last night with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lionel Messi, Xavi and Sergio Busquets being among the Catalan soldiers who missed chances in the first half. If all the chances were accounted for, Barcelona would have entered the dressing room with at least 3 away goals to their name. But that was not to be – lady luck was being a bit too nice to Arsenal, especially to Manuel Almunia.

Although Andrei Arshavin and William Gallas were subbed off due to injury but relying on less-than-100%-fit players was just a price they had to pay to keep Barca at bay. As Arsenal walked out from the dressing room for the second half, scattered, Barca’s men were waiting in the tunnel to walk out together with all their teammates.

It was still nil-nil and second half kicked off. The 46th minute saw Gerard Pique launch a long ball forward and Ibra taking an excellent touch to lob it over Almunia – who realized that he should not have charged half way through. 13 minutes later we saw Xavi with another one of those relatively long balls with Ibra again at the recieving end and blasting a shot past the hopeless Almunia (match highlights).

Soon after that, Theo Walcott was introduced by Arsene Wenger. Hoping that his bullet-like pace will help Arsenal turn the game around. Apparently, Pep Guardiola did not see that coming and Walcott did exactly what he was asked to. In the 69th minute he left the Barca defenders way behind and shot at goal. Arguably, that was a stoppable shot but Victor Valdes could not keep it out.

The game went on, both sides got their chances but none as significant as the ones Barca got in the first half – the first 20 minutes to be exact. Arsenal’s legend Theirry Henry was brought on but of no avail. Henry did not dare to show the spark and the pace, he usually does, to his ex-club – whom he loves so much – in their home ground.

Then in the 85th minute, something happened that the Guardian called “No one at the Emirates will forget the part Arsenal’s young captain played in a near-epic revival“. I can not help but disagree with Richard Williams. Because Cesc Fabregas did not do what a leader does and if anything, Fabregas’s last night’s performance is not even close to the ‘embodiment of the spirit of a leader’.

Arsenal’s young captain, Mr Cesc Fabregas was not fouled. On top of that, the referee decided to show a straight red to the Barcelona captain, Carles Puyol. The replay in the reverse angle shows it all. It was a mistake on the referee’s behalf and Fabregas was lucky that he called for a penalty and got it.

If you look at the replay closely, you will notice that his leg surely got tangled between Puyol’s legs but it was not intentional, neither was it a foul nor a red card. It was one of those offenses in the 18 yard box that are ignored by the man-in-charge. But Fabregas’s theatrics made it look like a penalty to the referee.

I accept that Barcelona screwed up twoards the end of the second half. They had scored two goals and they were slowing down the pace of the game when Arsenal started to pick up the game. Around the same time, Walcott came in and he took full advantage of his pace and Blaugrana’s laid back approach. But notably, Walcott was only allowed to go through twice. After that, he was taken care of – unfortunately by then, he had already scored.

Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger said about the tie:

“Barca’s display was art. Football but art. It was a great football night and I don’t deny we were outplayed most of the game.”

“I have to say we played against a great team who were dominant in the early part of the game and that’s where we were lucky because they had a lot of early chances.”

“The way we gave the ball away today is beyond understanding. But the regret I have is, and I don’t deny we played against a great side, that we conceded two cheap goals.”

Source

Funny. Wenger called Barca’s goals cheap after admitting how miserably Arsenal were surviving in the first half. Barcelona walked off at halftime with an astonishing 71% possession. At the same time, I have to give it to Wenger who at least tried to play their usual games. In last year’s Champions League campaign, Chelsea and Manchester United’s tactics against Barcelona were nothing but shameful.

Pep Guardiola stated:

“We came away from our place and played our style of football. “We’ve done a great thing and have a great chance of qualifying for the next round.”

“We are happy with this result because it is a good result when you play away, but we could have killed the game. We have to be more focused or we could go out.”

“Last year, we won all the prizes but we never played away in the Champions League like today. Never, never. The first 45 minutes was the best my team has played.”

Source

In related news, Arshavin and Gallas are out for three weeks whereas Fabregas is out for six (link). So, Gunners… Good luck in the Nou Camp!

On the contrary: Arsenal have mountain to climb in the Champions League

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Comments (13)

  1. Why doe’s it always take a smartass with hindsight to state something which i am sure if he had seen in real time only ONCE he would probable have given apart from that yes we were outplayed but at the end we got a draw how many times have teams have dominated and either lost or drawn so give us some credit for fighting back but maybe not after all we are not quite Man u are we so its easier to slate us

  2. The goals given up were cheap; avoidable, amateur-ish mistakes. Of course, Arsenal was let off the hook numerous times in the first half, so i guess it all balances out.

    You don’t seem to notice that Wenger does praise Barca numerous times throughout the conference.

  3. That was a foul. Cesc was getting ready to tee up a shot. It doesn’t matter if it was intentional, Puyol was nowhere near the ball and got 100% of the man. Would Cesc have fallen if not for Puyol’s intervention? No. Did Puyol intervene? Yes. Did Cesc go down as a direct result? Yes. (Hell, he was injured in the process) So while you can put in bold font to loudly and incorrectly proclaim that it was not a penalty, it clearly was.

    I agree the red card was too tough a punishment, but that is what the letter of the unfortunately says. And Puyol was clearly the last man in that instance.

    Furthermore, you completely ignored Wenger’s comments when he praised Barcelona’s play, referring to it as “art.” He is right to say that the two goals we conceded were cheap, because that’s exactly what they were. Wenger correctly pointed out that Arsenal were getting ripped apart, and clearly Almunia was possessed or something to keep Barcelona at bay. After unbelievably staying in it for that long, it was definitely a letdown to concede the goals in such a manner. The “cheap” remark wasn’t a go at Barca, but more of the summary of affairs from Arsenal’s end.
    And to all those writing Arsenal off already (I’ll admit it is tempting), Rubin Kazan beat Barcelona in the Nou Camp earlier this season,

  4. Why do writers on soccerlens tend to hate Arsenal?

  5. why is it that gGw and the other jerkoff wldww of whatever his name is write complete and utter nonsense continually.
    Who actually gives a shite about what your perceptions of what was or wasn’t a penalty?
    im actually cunted off because you so called supporters of the game (ambiguously?) haven’t mentioned anything about the loss to bayern.
    Bias much?

  6. Arsenal did not fight back. Barca relaxed and Arsenal was allowed easy access to the ball. The first half is actually the difference between the two clubs. Barcelona showed Arsenal how to actually play how they wish they play.

  7. Accurate article. Arsenal were rubbish and this myth of beautiful football applied to only 1 team.

    Once again Arsenal have shown that against quality opposition they are not at the races.

    As for next week….no chance….and I mean absolutely no chance!

    As for erwf: writers on Soccerlens DON’T hate Arsenal, they just tell it as it is. But why are Arsenal fans so blinkered?

    “We play the right way.” “We balance our books”

    Bollocks! When did you last win somethiung and when did you last give a good account of yourselves against a top side?

    Sorry erwf, I forgot that you’re not an Arsenal fan! ;)

  8. irrespective of how arsenal played and how barcelona played is it so much to say that arsenal just drew with the best team in the world? Or are all man utd supporters so blinkered (as you like to call it) that you can’t give credit where credit is due?

  9. that’s the thing john! arsenal didn’t draw the match cos the put up a fight or played as good as barca. it was barca’s mistakes that let arsenal draw the match.

    but NO!! arsenal is the best club in the world and they play the most beautiful football and long throws should be banned, right?

  10. So it wasn’t Arsenal’s mistakes that let Barca scored the first 2 goals??

    Taking advantage of an opponent’s mistakes is part of football is it not?

  11. Did you not watch the match?

    Wasn’t it Almunia’s abysmal positioning which gifted Ibra for his first goal, and defensive mistakes for his second?

    I don’t see how class factors into that.

    Besides, Manchester United were pretty much outclassed by Bayern as well.

    I don’t see you having a field day writing about that.

  12. Well, Almunia made a mistake in the first goal by charging. He didn’t charge the second time and Ibra still scored. So yea, Almunia could’ve done things differently but the immense pressure of being the underdogs at home made him make mistakes. On the other hand, Barca had 2 away goals. I don’t see any pressure there.

    I’m a Barca fan. So naturally, I’m going to rant whenever Barca outclasses someone. Yes, Bayern was the better team in the first leg and they were good enough to inch through on away goals. But Messi scored four goals in the second leg. And that outclassed Arsenal.