Messi the monster sinks Arsenal

Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal (6-3 agg)

You’d have to be as blind as a bat not to enjoy football the way Barcelona play it, and you’d have to be blind as a bat and as mad as a bag of eels if you didn’t enjoy individual excellence as purveyed by Lionel Messi last night. He was truly mesmeric, a “PlayStation player” as Wenger put it. Arsenal had no answer to him or his peerless teammates.

We were beaten by the better team, and sometimes there’s not a lot more to it than that. In the post match interviews, Wenger admitted it, Bendtner admitted it, Almunia admitted it. Messi is a freakishly good player who has the good fortune to play in a freakishly accomplished club side.

But it was still a chastening night for Arsenal and, I suspect, for Wenger too. Over the two legs we were well beaten, and if Barcelona is the side that we aspire to emulate – and they certainly should be – then we have some way to go to get there.

Of course, it’s very hard to say what the outcome would have been had we been able to play our first eleven. We were well short of key personnel and last night it showed. Despite a promising start – at one point there was the tantalising prospect of going 2-0 up, but Diaby didn’t spot Walcott in acres of space and moments later Messi lashed his opener in – we were largely outplayed. Look at the possession stats on Gunnerblog and you’ll see how hard Arsenal found it to get the ball and keep it.

There was plenty of spirit but a few too many errors. We couldn’t hold onto the ball, and while we harried better when not in possession than we did in the first leg, Barcelona did it so much better. It’s so rare to see a team that fights as hard to get the ball as it does to keep it as them.

Out wide, Rosicky and Walcott struggled to get a foothold. Whether the former was fit or not – he was 50:50 before the match – I don’t know, but neither he nor Walcott could get into the game at all and they found it impossible to do much with the ball when they did get it.

Wenger’s next job is to pick his bedraggled troops up for the trip to the Spuds next week. Fortunately we have a week to recover.

His job after that, in the summer, is to analyse who we might need to buy and how we might need to change in order to answer the ultimate question.

Namely, how can we be more like Barcelona?


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Daryl Booth

    Great post, as usual. Spot on and pretty much how any rational Gooner should see it. We were carrying half a team of injuries and they were far superior. Messi is awesome!

  2. Nick

    Decent performance from Arsenal considering the players we had out..Arsenal fans should stop criticising Wenger…its been frustrating for him as well having half his tteam injured all the time…Im so proud of the arsenal lads…they did the best could considering the curcumstances…

    lets show our love and appreciation for the lads at the next game at the emirates…

  3. iceman

    Great blog – first time visit. Just wanted to say that as a die-hard Gooner I am already sick of the so-called fans berating us and calling for Wenger’s head. What a bunch of muppets!We did the best we could with a badly depleted squad. Let’s go to the yids and stuff ’em like we always do. Champions by one point and two fingers up to those who whinge on a daily basis.

  4. Phil

    I’m not taking anything away from Barcelona however we still havn’t faced them on a level playing field! IE 2006 Euro final 10 men. Last nights debacle Injurys to half the team and key players. I think the main thought which crossed my mind would be “That would never happen under a George Graham side”.Wenger is fast becoming a one trick pony, he needs to learn the art of defending and closing down the opposition. We all moan about managers like Mouriho however he’s a winner and has tactical nous.I would like to retain our attacking flair so could a happy medium be reached? Maybe big Tone could come back at some stage and work on the defensive part. One thing I know for sure we never had as many injuries in the 90’s and if we got kicked we kicked them back too. Kudos to Barca and thanks for listening I’ll get me coat!.

  5. seyiblack

    i strongly disagree with u saying we had alot of spirit, barca chased and clamped down everytime the ball wasnt in their possession, a very sensible tactic, we had no idea of accomplishing. if only every player played the way clichy and bendtner played tonight, now thats spirit.

  6. seyiblack

    and just too add something else, we lost VIPersonnel, well so did barcalona,but the formation with personnel on ground was very key. Sylvester had no business in that game except to make messi look outstanding. i am not taking anything away from messi , the kid is brilliant, but our defence was pourous. sylvester!? what!?

  7. San Diego Goon

    So tired of hearing about injuries. Waaaaah

  8. Farnborough Gunner

    I know this is a bit off-subject, but for anyone who has Sky+, it would be worth watching a programme currently on Anytime called “Football Rivalries” (or something like that); the episode on there covers the rivalry between Arsenal and Sp*rs and is generally an interesting and balanced view, and representatives of boht teams come across quite well. However, the chairman of the Sp*rs supporters trust is such an a***hole. For instance, he says that Arsenal are forever trying to emulate Sp*rs, but he says that Arsenal are just a bunch of cheats which is not the Sp*rs way! It’s one thing to speak up for your club but some of the things he says are just embarrasing, and it says a lot about Sp*rs that they would have such a person in such a position. It’s worth watching just to hear his contributions! He annoyed me to start with but as I realised what an arse he was making of himself I started to enjoy it – he really is a bitter & twisted person!

    The programme is ony 30 mins long, so no too much of an investment of your time. I’m not sure which channel it was originally shown on – I assume a Sky sports channel or ESPN Classic – but I assume it will be re-shown for non Sky+ users.

  9. San Diego Goon

    What’s been the reaction over there to Richard Keys and Andy Gray’s overheard mutterings about Theo and whatnot?

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