Arsenal News
Arsenal News & Transfers
As featured on NewsNow: Arsenal newsArsenal News 24/7

Arsenal News, Only Arsenal, Blogs, Transfer News

Archives

May 2018
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Barcelona; the teams; the predictions; Catalunya Ràdio

Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

Untold Arsenal on Facebook here

Yesterday, as part of the build up to the Barca game I did an interview on Catalunya Ràdio about Arsenal and Herbert Chapman, which I have to admit was rather fun (a bit like Basil Fawlty having a hotel full of German guests and not mentioning certain historic incidents).   As as a prelude to Phil Gregory’s preview of the game below I would like to reiterate my thanks to Pat McLachlan of Just Arsenal for his help over this matter, and give a particular plug to Just Football Highlights.     Try it and you’ll see what I mean.

Tony

Arsenal v Barca – By Phil Gregory

Barcelona.

With all the endless chat in the media around Cesc and the seemingly regular nature of these games it almost feels like a derby to me, not that the stakes need to go any higher.  A 2-2 draw was what we got from our last home game versus Barcelona in a cracking match between two great sides. The opening half saw us looking punch drunk with Barcelona’s passing leaving us chasing shadows but somehow keeping the scoreline 0-0 thanks to stellar shot-stopping display from Manuel Almunia.

Things went from bad to worse after the break, but we fought back to 2-2 with Theo Walcott terrifying the Barcelona back line with his pace and clinical finishing. Can Arsenal go one better this season, and take a lead to Camp Nou? Too bloody right we can, so what’s changed since?

The team that day was Almunia, Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy, Song Fabregas Diaby, Nasri Arshavin Bendtner. The back five that day barely resembles our current defence, largely due to the changes at centre back and goalkeeper respectively. Szcznesy’s strengths are in my view his shop stopping and commanding presence in goal, organising his back four.

Despite the performance of Almunia (arguably one of the best of his Arsenal career) I feel confident with the young Pole between the sticks going into this one.

Clichy is the only constant in the defensive unit, given the suspension of Sagna. Eboue will step in, a more than able deputy according to Bacary himself. The defensive pairing of Djourou and Koscielny is certainly blossoming, and although the Vermaelen’s injury is a shame the performances of  our current central defenders have done much to mitigate his absence.

This familiarity between our central defenders will be key, with both the goals conceded in last years’ Emirates tie largely a result of confusion between the central defenders. Gallas’ injury was a blow in that regard, with Song playing in a brand new partnership, and out of position too.

Song didn’t have the best of games in this tie last season, with the whole team struggling in midfield before he switched to an unfamiliar central defensive role. The Cameroonian has come on leaps and bounds this season, and our midfield is much more solid thanks to his partnership with Wilshere. Cesc is Cesc, and while he hasn’t quite replicated last season’s goalscoring heroics just yet, he is the heartbeat of this side. I certainly think we’re stronger in midfield this year, both individually and as a unit.

As for the front three, well. Bendtner’s aerial threat will be missed but some sublime performances from Robin Van Persie bode well for the Barcelona game. Nasri has improved immeasurably since last season (even given he was one of our best players in the Barca tie) and then of course, Theo Walcott. After changing the game from the bench, the Barca players were rightfully fearful of Walcott in the run up to the second leg, yet the England international has come on leaps and bounds since then.

He looks more robust for a World Cup free summer, shrugging off challenges that would have normally knocked him down, while the pace and clinical finishing are all there to see. Most importantly, a run of games has allowed the 21 year old to gain the confidence that game time brings. If Barcelona were scared last year, they certainly ought to be now.

My team therefore is:

Szcznesy

Eboue Djourou Koscielny Clichy

Song Wilshere

Fabregas

Walcott Van Persie Nasri

There aren’t any surprises in the back five or midfield. The only real talking point is Arshavin making way for Nasri on the left though it is a real 50:50 as to whether Wenger will start him or keep him on the bench. Even medically fit, much will depend on whether Samir is simply sharp enough to start after a couple of weeks out. He’s been back training so I suspect he will be, but we will have to wait and see Wenger’s decision to know for sure.

Onto injuries. The big news is that Nasri is “medically fit” having recovered from his hamstring problem quicker than expected. That is absolutely huge, given the Frenchman has been, in my opinion, our player of the  season so far. Medically fit suggests there is no risk of a recurrence, so could he start? Caution will always be a watchword given we’re in the home stretch of the Premier League and with a final coming up, but if he’s fit, why not?

Rosicky is another returnee, back as part of the squad after an injury on international duty with the Czech likely to take up a place on the bench. Diaby is out with a muscle injury and will play no part.

From re-watching the first leg, the main things which struck me was how poor our pressing game was. Naturally, Barcelona don’t ever make it easy to win the ball back but our defensive shape and positioning was much worse than what I have seen this season. Much of that would have been as a result of 433 still being reasonably new last year, but we’ve adapted the formation and approach over the summer and are much better as a team defensively. In this respect, I expect us to be able to give Barcelona a hell of a lot more trouble than we did last year at the Emirates and expect more parity in terms of possession.

Barcelona’s own pressing is exemplary, but they can afford to chase tirelessly as they rarely lose the ball, and on those rare occasions they aren’t chasing for long. Jose Mourinho always speaks of “resting with the ball” and it is much less tiring to have the ball. Linked in to the previous point about us having more of the ball, it will be interesting to see how Barcelona’s pressing lasts as the game goes on if we enjoy periods with the ball. Tired legs might just give us a bit more space than we might expect, and this advantage may not come as easily in the second leg, so it is vital we make it count.

For once, we’ve also got the advantage in the air. Pique is six foot odd, but with Barcelona proven to be the smallest side in Europe, players such as Song, Bendtner, Chamakh and Djourou could well have Barcelona worried at set pieces. If we can win a few free kicks around the box we need to be taking advantage of our superiority in this department. While Bendtner and Chamakh are unlikely starters, the pair of them off the bench for a plan B is a good card for Wenger to have.  The Dane in particular should have scored from a great header in the second half of last year’s tie.

Theo Walcott’s appearance off the bench was the game changer last year, excellent balls inside of Maxwell at left back leading to chances and  of course Arsenal’s first goal. Due to Barcelona’s injuries we may see Maxwell at left back again, and I certainly hope we do. His defensive play has always been a little suspect, but in a side as dominant as Barcelona he can get away with it. Arsenal however possess the players to counter attack rapidly, and the Brazilian is a player who we will look to target.

As for Barca’s line-up, we know they’ll be without first choice centre back Puyol, which leaves them a bit of a conundrum. In their last game, they used Milito as a centre back in place of Puyol and played Maxwell at left back That left the usual left back Abidal on the bench. Was he rested with this game in mind, or was Milito getting much needed game before starting at centre back? I suspect he was being protected, in case of injury, which means he’ll slot in at centre back in place of Milito, with Maxwell at left back Arsenal should look to take advantage of an unfamiliar centre back partnership, while Abidal has played the vast majority of his games at fullback so may slip up.

Barcelona also started Javier Mascherano in their last game, despite the Argentine appearing largely on the bench thanks to the performances of Busquets. Again, we can assume this is rotation with the game versus us in mind, to ensure Busquets is fresh and ready to perform his usual theatrics.

I expect we’ll see Barcelona with the following line-up:

Valdes

Alves Pique Abidal Maxwell

Busquets

Xavi Iniesta

Messi Villa Pedro

Barcelona are a great team, of that there is no doubt. As ever in life however, people focus on the obvious (“Barcelona just won sixteen games on the trot, so are the best side in the world”) as opposed to (“Barcelona are a great side, but the fact that they won 16 games on the trot has as much to do with their massive TV deal as anything else”).

While their performances in Europe have confirmed they are a quality side, there is a tendency to over-hype anything that is excellent into being out of this world (see Rooney’s winner for more of this).

Are Barcelona are better side than Arsenal? Probably, but not vastly so, their massacre of us at the Nou Camp had much to do with our own injury list as their ability. Remind anybody who slates   Arsenal’s academy in relation to Barca’s that  if the Catalans were situated in England, regulations would have prevented them from signing Iniesta for their academy aged 12 as he lived too far away (in England, you can’t sign for a club unless you live within 90 minutes of that club). Not that I’m in any way downplaying La Masia, but there is always more to these things than meets the eye, and it undoubtedly helps that Barcelona can hoover up the best young talent in a country that actually coaches their kids.

To wrap up, what is going to matter in this game is simply confidence. If we go into the game believing they are a side who spanked us 4-1 at the Nou Camp, and who possess clearly the best player in the world in their ranks then we’ve lost before the game even starts. Until the first goal went in last year, we barely had any of the ball and created next to nothing. Suddenly Walcott slots one in, our players’ spirits lift and we zipped the ball around, took men on and surged forward, making Barcelona look like any old opposition at the Emirates.

The players didn’t suddenly become better after the goal went in, they simply thought “we can get something from this” and played as well as we know they can. We can beat Barcelona if we perform to our level, that I am certain of. 2-1 to the Arsenal for me

Enjoy the game wherever you’re watching it, I’m off to Spain this morning of the game… anybody know if the Basques like Catalans? Regardless, the Arsenal shirt will be out, and Spanish beer will be liberally sampled once we get our result at full time.

Snooping around the Barcabankrupt blog

The injury update

Just stop thinking about the game and think of something else.

71 comments to Barcelona; the teams; the predictions; Catalunya Ràdio

  • terry

    Good Morning feloow Goons – Its your local man from across the road – No teasing today but my two cents (for what they’re worth) – On the Arsenal- Barcelona game: It should be good, and if poetic justice exists, Arsenal should knock out Barcelona. I hope they will, but I can’t see it happening. Arsenal may be able to squeeze out an ok result at home, but in the end Barcelona is likely to progress to the next round. They simply have the better team. A better keeper, a better defence, a better midfield and a better attack. Only one Arsenal player would be in the Barcelona first XI, and that’s Clichy. I rate him a bit higher than Abidal. Some Arsenal fans have argued that Arsenal can do anything Barcelona can do, only quicker. That Arsenal have more stamina because of them playing in a tougher and more competitive league, and that Barcelona have an ageing team. Arguments like that must surely be a result of cluthing at straws. It remains to be seen that Arsenal can do whatever Barcelona does but quicker. It certainly didn’t show last time they met. And as for the PL being tougher than La Liga? Perhaps due to the PL not having a winter break. More competitive? Certainly not! Last time any other than Real Madrid or Barcelona won La Liga was in 03/04 when Valencia won. Last time any other team than United or Chelsea won the PL: Also 03/04, when Arsenal won. And have the same fans forgotten Villarreal? CL- semifinalists in 05/06. Sevilla, two times winner of the Europa league, beating fellow Spaniards Espanyol in one final and English Middlesbrough in the other. And last year Atletico Madrid beat Fulham in the final and Liverpool on the way. So the PL being more competative surely is a myth only believed in England. And Barcelona having a ageing team? Puyol is 32, not old for a central defender, Abidal is 31, Xavi 30. The rest in their mid twenties or younger. That’s not ageing. Fact is everything points to Barcelona over two games, and that’s it. But good luck, Arsenal, I think you’re going to need it.

  • Sammy The Snake

    EA Sports has done a simulation of the game, and it’s interesting:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9u3r64i_zM&feature=player_embedded

  • An interesting point for the future:

    The 90 minute rule may soon be getting scrapped. Although this could be slightly damaging to academies in the lower leagues it could also give some great chances to those in areas with only a small footballing presence.

  • Vinny

    No background check on Nicola Rizzoli yet?

    The referee for tonight?

  • GroovT

    I predict a 3-0 win for gunners
    I am sure we will win

  • critic

    3-0 to arsenal.

  • terry

    3-0 ? Seriously what are you guys smoking

  • anthony

    I’m reminded of a few lines from Roky 6 with this juggernaut of a match upon us:

    Duke: You know all there is to know about fighting, so there’s no sense us going down that same old road again. To beat this guy, you need speed – you don’t have it. And your knees can’t take the pounding, so hard running is out. And you got arthritis in your neck, and you’ve got calcium deposits on most of your joints, so sparring is out.
    Paulie: I had that problem.
    Duke: So, what we’ll be calling on is good ol’ fashion blunt force trauma. Horsepower. Heavy-duty, cast-iron, piledriving punches that will have to hurt so much they’ll rattle his ancestors. Every time you hit him with a shot, it’s gotta feel like he tried kissing the express train. Yeah! Let’s start building some hurtin’ bombs!

  • WaiZack

    @ terry

    I’ll be honest, it’s the first time that I saw anyone using the “Barcelona is aging and Arsenal are fitter” thing, so I’m guessing its something that you yourself believe? (or made up)

    Also what’s the point in arguing about which league is more competitive? How does that matter in any way to this match?
    Just because a league is competitive, it does not mean the players in that league have better stamina(or whatever irrelevant attribute that you want to link it to) , it just means that the teams have more teams that are of a similar level.

    I understand the point of you making a post like this, but please construct it such that it at least has something to do with the topic at hand, and not having more than 3/4 of the post being about an irrelevant point that you cooked up just to attack Arsenal.

    Cheers and Hope you learn how to think before posting!

  • critic

    @terry
    f*** off. u don’t know the difference between epl and la-la liga.
    3-0.

  • critic

    @terry
    f*** off. go sleep with ur friends’ wife.

  • Pete

    Top quote. 🙂

  • Pete

    @anthony – top quote I meant to say. 🙂

  • terry

    @-Critic – be quiet you imbceile.
    @ WaiZack – Playing in the la liga and epl is very different as you and i know it – but Barca are technically astute – they can play their way and win trophies – something even your own manager admitted to – he knows to beat this team you need something special and i for one am looking forward to this match because it will show us A – If your team really is there as you all hype it to be and B will you be able to keep Cesc after this summer- I see a £10 million move beckoning.

  • @anthony.

    Now that you’ve brought up Rocky 6 I’ve got another section of it in my head. Most of it can sum up Arsenal fairly well.

    “… It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilige. Then the time came for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow.

    Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.
    You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

    Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that! I’m always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens I’m always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens” “…you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life…”

  • AnonymousGun

    Shop stopping LOL … Catalunyans are Wimminz!

    I need to learn that art .. Seriously.. I pity my credit card 😀

  • WaiZack

    @ terry

    Thanks for pointing out how poor Barcelona are right now, glad to see someone actually understanding that. Also, thanks for clarifying that your first post was indeed pointless to this conversation.

    I personally do not think we are a better team than Barcelona. We are not favourites in this tie, everybody knows that, but I think we still have a chance to knock Barcelona out of this tie, a right mentality is key, and as Phil points out, “We can beat Barcelona if we perform to our level”.

    Oh, by the way, this is an example of the correct way to use the conjunction “but”, you use it to connect two contrasting but related subjects together to form a sentence, not two totally unrelated subjects, which is the way you used the word. Not being a grammar Nazi here, but thought I should point that out.(Hmm then again, it does seem like I’m being a bit too anal about this)

    Speaking of hype, what media outlets have you been visiting? From all the ones that I’ve been around, everybody has been backing Barcelona to win. I also have not seen a site which(in general)has backed us to beat Manchester United to the title. I would love to visit the sites that you do, it would be refreshing to see some positive reporting about Arsenal once in a while. (Of course, it could be something that you made up once again, but it could be me being too critical.)(Another example!)

    You really have a knack for bringing unrelated issues into the conversation don’t you? This match has nothing to do with whether can we keep Fabregas or not, our financial infrastructure(which is excellent by the way) and how determined the boss is with regards to keeping Fabregas is all there is to it.

    I would love to continue this conversation, but please formulate a decent(or at the very least relevant) platform for discussion this time.

    Once again, Cheers and Congratulations on beating AC Milan

  • True

    @terry – Everyone knows Brac is good if not the best so what matters if we say our team is so and so? heard the saying “All parents thinks their kids are beautiful”? In this case I do think Arsenal can beat this team. Tonight’s result might or might not be otherwise but I won’t be happy even if we beat Brac and not win the CL. I’m sure it’s the same with you guys, what is the “Best Team in the World” tag worth if without the grand prize?
    You are right we do need the luck and we are happy for your blessings, let tonight be a fair and competitive game with lots of quality.

    BTW There is nothing you can say to change us Gooners’ minds about our team so I say 2-0 to Arsenal!

  • anthony

    @Brett – excellent

  • anthony

    @WaiZack – THat Terry is a Manure fan

  • gooner80

    I dont think we will win over two legs but could win at the ems but what an amazing thing that would be,for arsenal to beat barca at their own game no team has done that the only way teams have beaten barca is through anti football so if arsenal do it I could see arsenal going on to dominate the prem and europe.

    the best result for arsenal is a clean sheet because I cant see us winning at the nou camp but maybe drawing, we need to choke the life out of barca at the ems last year they couldnt keep that pressing going in the second half and as Phil pointed out it was only Songs positioning that cost us we could have won 2-0 may be even 3-0 arsenal can devastate a team that allows them to play but last year barca didnt trade punches with us they stopped us punching altogether.

    if we do really well it will prove that injuries have cost us big time over the last 4 years,I hope nasri doesnt start barca are not worth the risk, the cynic in me thinks arshavin will play well against barca as its the team he dreams of playing for.

    The question is do arsenal dare dream of the quadruple has the manager of the decade going top pull off a feat surpassing the invincible s ?

  • ak47

    what worries me is eboue’s concentration, jack and kozzas butterflies and their forward five!:-)
    elvis and handburgers spring to mind.
    we all know what the requirements are. god bless us. enjoy the game gunners.

  • Simon

    Despite our defensive short comings I was approaching tonight’s game with restrained optimism. However, I am now fighting a small sense of gloom. I wasnt aware Sagna was suspended for tonight and Eboue aka Gunnersaurus is in. If this means Eboue and Walcott on the right then I am very worried. Eboue will tonight not be allowed the luxury of when he is playing the likes of Leeds or Huddersfield and wandering around up front trying to do step-overs, mis-passing or being more defensively out of position than a fish on bike! We can only hope the team tap into some spirit of old and fight for every ball and match Barca’s pressing game whilst having their shooting boots on. Walking the ball into the goal will not be an option. I am looking forward to tonight whatever! Ooo to be a Gooner!

  • Simon

    @antohny – That’s very inspiring but I’m afraid we’re built more like flyweights than heavyweights, dean. I doubt whether we can land any “hurtin’ bombs”, though hopeflly we’ll be able to sting ’em where it hurts.

  • Dark Prince

    To be honest, i wont mind whatever result we get tonight…i’m more concerned that we dont have any more players injured bcoz this is not the only competition we’re playin in. Good Luck Arsenal!!!!
    To all Gooners- The team will need our support!! Lets give it to them!! Proud to be a Gooner!! 🙂

  • Let’s do this. Let’s show Tapup FC who the best team in the world really is. Up The Arsenallllllll!

  • critic

    @terry
    f*** off. Show ur backyard to fools for money.

  • critic

    @untold
    before u delete my comment let me clear one thing. I was just showing terry what it sounds like when one keeps repeating same idiotic things with different words.

  • RedGooner

    Hey Terry, “Who are ya” who’s that bunch you support ?
    Your not playing a half injured squad this year …..

    Gotta love the little Russian still proving doubters wrong.
    Best performance of the season comming back like that against
    Barcelona.
    Bring on leiton Orient 🙂

  • Mihir Saudagar

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHH!
    To be a Goooooooooooooooner!

  • Sammy The Snake

    Just wanted to say…

    Ooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

  • Paul C.

    FABULOUS!!!!! ABSOLUTELY F*CKING FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!

    AMAZING!!!!!!

    I really didnt care if we won or lost tonight, I just wanted the team to prove they belong on the same pitch as the best in the world. Man, did they prove that!!!! I am breathless.

    Forget the result, what an absolutely terrific game of football that was. The highest possible quality by both teams. That made last night’s Milan-Spurs game look like Greys Utd-Upminster in the Essex Local Cup!!!!

    Koscielny brilliant. Arshavin what a goal. But there is no doubt whatsoever who the man of the match was.

    JACK WILSHIRE.

    He looked like he belonged in that company. That is all you need to say. What a player.

  • RedGooner

    Paul C, the strange thing was we totaly controlled the second half of that game. Barca was fast and dangerous early on like last year, But we were even better in the second half we looked comfertable.

  • Jerom J.

    That was just a plain awesome game! What a game!

  • Mihir Saudagar

    Right on Paul C.!
    What a wonderful spectacle! All those lucky gooners who went to the grove!
    To have won and won with style against the “best” team in the world!Absolutely amazing!

  • gooner80

    FROM THE 26TH MINUTE to half time we were outplayed that was there spell in the game but the rest of the game wePLAYED REALLY REALLY WELL.

    out of the midfielders on the pitch
    XAVI
    INiesta
    Cesc
    Wilshere

    wilshere was the best he was class just pure class just about able to drink but pure class

    we can only build from this

  • Shard

    The thing that stood out for me is that Jack proved he belongs with the best in the world. Not saying he is the best or even close, but that he BELONGS on the field with them. I mean, he was able to show Xavi and Iniesta a trick or two. Brilliant.
    What about Szczesny? Did very very well indeed.

    What did Wenger say at half time? We weren’t bad in the first half, but you couldn’t help but think just how good Barca are. But in the second we neutralised them, before unleashing our attack. How much of it was down to Barca easing off remains to be seen, and if they did then for what reason. Seems they didn’t learn from last season. Except for blanking Walcott I suppose.

    Can we win this at the Camp Nou? I still think Barcelona will be favourites, but thats how I like it.. Back to the domestic fare for now though.. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!

  • Shard

    @ Paul C

    Don’t knock the Essex Cup. It’s likely to rank as one of the major prizes on the Spurs’ website.

  • Shard

    Oh and one player who deserves special mention is Koscielny. Basically marked Messi out of the game. Or of large parts of it. Was Absolutely brilliant..

  • Dark Prince

    Just want to say 2 things- PROUD TO BE A GOONER!!!!
    I BELIEVE IN ARSENE WENGER!!!!

  • Byo

    It seems all the doubters before the game are now back saying Barcelona are favored in the second leg. They gave us no chance even before a ball was kicked in anger!
    Every “analysis” by so-called pundits did not see how Arsenal can beat Barcelona! Even the ones who come on this site to claim expertise.
    If the result is pre-ordained, why play?

    I have always believed Wenger understood the long term picture, better than all the internet managers. What impressed me most was the substitution AW made-both positive.

  • LRV

    Phill! You young rascal, you!! Can you ever get more spot-on than that? Yeeesssssss!!! Keep gunning Gunners.

  • goonergerry

    It was massively important to get the win-its a clear step up from where we were- and it gives us confidence when we play United and Spurs. What ever happens in the second leg, this performance showed that the Chelsea win was no one off. So many great performances from our guys- but Wiltshere- what a performance from a 19 year old.

  • zubeir

    KOSCIELNY amazing, Messi had to ‘headbutt’ him he was soo much for the tinymess, JACK WILSHERE, where was Xavi?

  • Burtsagooner

    Result aside easily best game ive seen for some time, honestly thought we could win but just prayed that we could show us in our true form, wow did they do that and more. So proud to be a gooner tonight. We gotta do a job on them now, i believe! And kudos to the groves crowd tonight best ive heard um in some time awesome awesome arsenal.

  • Paul C.

    Shard – I am actually taking a week off from Spurs-bashing. Instead I am just congratulating them on their own great win at Milan. The Spurs fans deserve some good moments, they have had some pretty mediocre years.

    Gooner80 – absolutely right. Those 20 minutes before halftime we were on the rack. I thought we did a poor job during that time of picking up where Dani Alves was on the pitch. He ghosts up the pitch and Nasri just failed to see where he was. In the 2nd half we got a lot tighter to Alves.

    Walcott is going to be huge in the 2nd leg. Barca can be hit by pace on the counter.

    What a night. What a glorious night.

    Oh, and what are those who said the EPL is having a “down” year going to say now. Maybe it is just that the EPL is more competitive now than ever before.

    Really interesting result from Rome as well. I thought Shaktar looked a really good side against us in the group stages and thought they deserved to win the group. Nice to see them prove it against Roma.

  • IndianGooner

    Wonderful performance and great result.. And I think we’ll play a counter-attacking game in the second leg with Theo\RvP ready to make the runs..

    Farca’s stamina didn’t last for more than 60mins and by 70th, they were down… Thats the result of having only 2 teams in the league..

    Up the Arse!!!!

  • Shard

    Just looking at the goals again. The second goal was a thing of beauty. I agree with the sentiments above. Even if we don’t get through, this result should be a punch in the teeth for all the tactical geniuses out there claiming you can’t beat Barcelona at their own game. Actually that might be true. Cos we played OUR game, and we won.

    Looking at it objectively, we did ride our luck a bit, but it wasn’t all one sided. We had chances as well. So on balance I’d say we got what we deserved. Barca are seriously good though. Which just makes this win all the better..

  • ugandan goon

    did anybody see adrian child’s build up on itv?
    i think we should start a mediawatch column on untold, for those special foot in the mouth moments?
    how about gareth southgate, why cant he just piss off and manage schoolgirls somewhere? preferably in atlantis!

  • ugandan goon

    you cannot beat the first goal for cleverness, that was pure class!

  • Shard

    @Paul C

    Then you are a better man than me 🙂 I normally don’t indulge in Spurs bashing, mainly cos I don’t normally have to deal with any lillywhites in my life. But, I say they deserve some bashing. The media gives them enough of love anyway.

  • Shard

    @ Ugandan goon
    What did Chiles say?

    Here it was Carlton palmer of all people, calling Wenger arrogant for thinking he could take Barca on at their own game. Drop the line deeper, stand off them, and defend properly was his advise at half time… Was even more hilarious seeing him trying to explain what Arsenal did in the 2nd half to win the game..

  • Paul C.

    Shard – oh, absolutely. The media LOVE Spurs right now!!! I agree it is a bit sickening. You’d think they were the first team to try to play attacking football. Arsenal do it for years and get called “hopeless romantics” and then along come Spurs and they are “a breath of fresh air to English football”!!!

    Well, tonight we showed everyone a real breath of fresh air!!!

    God, I am floating on air right now.

    But the job is only half done and it doesnt get any bloody easier at their place.

    But we need to forget about all that now. The next few games are every bit as huge. Leyton Orient, Stoke and Birmingham. After those three games our season could be looking really good.

    One game at a time.

  • Shard

    One game at a time is absolutely right Paul C. But for tonight I think we can afford to feel all warm and fuzzy 🙂 The Grove finally has a European night to cherish. It’s getting more like home now. Oh and for the fans at the stadium, more of the same please… I loved the noise.

  • RedGooner

    @Ugandan, Warren Barton wasnt much better on FoxSoccer Oooing and Aaaing over Barcelona at half time. Then lost for words at full time a quick flick through the highlights and no comment.

    I think the difference was Pepe removing Silva for a defence midfielder and Arsen doing the opposite Arshavin for Song.

    One tried to shut up shop the other went for the win.
    Everyone played great.
    But im delighted for 3 of our team.
    Eboue got a lot of stick on other blogs because he was filling in for sagna this morning and done so admirably.
    Arshavin getting stick for ages and again proving he is the player for big occasions.
    Schezny from Brentford last season to Barca this season and he was excellent. Loved his celebration after Arsenals second goal you could see what it meant to him.
    Embarasingly It kinda mirror imaged myself on the floor in front of the tv 🙂

  • Sammy The Snake

    Great performance, the guys played thair hearts out. Thank you to all the players, the staff and the thunder voice by the fans at the Em. Great night, and good night!
    Many happy nights to come, I’m sure.

  • Paul C.

    Shard – I was just thinking about the same thing regarding the Emirates. We all (us older ones at least) have so many fond memories of great times at Highbury but we have seen precious few of those great days and nights at The Emirates. Lots of fantastic football of course, but very few of those “I was there” moments (apart from some thrashings of poor teams). I can remember a 2-1 win against Utd in the first year and the Chelsea match in December. Are there any others you can think of? But tonight was one of those nights. That was a true atmosphere. Finally it felt like “our home”.

    More of that please.

  • IndianGooner

    The stadium was mesmerizing today… Loved the chants especially in the final 15mins..

  • Shard

    @ RedGooner

    That’s pretty much my thought on seeing him. I was doing the same thing, except while jumping up and down, which must have been quite a sight. Do I care? Of course not…

    Oh and I think you mean Villa, not Silva.. But a few celebratory drinks should excuse that 🙂

  • Paul C.

    RedGooner – great comment about Chesney and your own reaction. I seem to have a fuzzy memory of just being silent with my arms held above my head for about a minute before I finally let out a strange yelping sound that was something between a scream and an orgasm.

  • RedGooner

    @Shard and Paul C yes in the excitment of the moment certainly was Villa and the a few drinks have been had 🙂
    Its been a great night to be honest I was a nervous wreck throughout the game and wouldnt have minded if the front room was full when doing my schezny like celebration 🙂

  • Shard

    @PaulC

    I dunno how old you think I am 🙂 I’m definitely sure to be much newer to the Arsenal than you though. But Highbury was our home. It just felt part of us. The Emirates doesn’t feel that way yet. A few trophies should fix that. That said, I’ve only ever been to the Emirates once for a competitive match. Wish I could more..

  • RedGooner

    PS did anyone notice PatRices celebration after the winner ?
    It was like an Indian dance from an old western movie infront of AW 🙂

  • Shard

    RedGooner

    I missed that. Must catch it 🙂

    Strangely enough though I wasn’t nervous at all about the game. Just once at the start a few butterflies came out, and thyen after we took the lead my heart was positively thumping. It could just have been the jumping though 🙂

  • Shard

    Hahaha.. Pat Rice is an absolute legend..

  • RedGooner

    Good day to be a gooner Shard 🙂
    I have work to do, you lot have fun watching the replays and the replays and then more replays 🙂

  • Paul C.

    Shard – I have NEVER been to The Emirates for a match!!! Only taken the tour!!! I live in Canada now so it is a bit of a commute for me!

    But Highbury has wonderful memories for me. For fifteen years I went to just about every home match there.

    You are right about The Emirates needing a trophy or two. The entire Arsenal fanbase needs a trophy or two. We are all too nervous!!!!

  • Shard

    It sure is that RedGooner… Well, good luck concentrating on work. I’m so happy that I’m unable to sleep 🙂

  • Shard

    I went in it’s second year, so it was still quite bare.. The Arsenalisations hadn’t begun.. But at least got a feel of it. Sad I never got to see Henry play though. In person I mean.

    I sorta disagree about the NEED bit. It would be nice and would be vindication for us as a club, and for Wenger’s project. I think I want trophies more than needing them. We bloody well deserve them too.

  • Aaron

    Great prediction. I agreed with you too. Come on Arsenal!

  • Shard

    Hey Walter, will there be a ref review? My impression during the match was that he was just slightly leaning towards Barcelona. giving very soft fouls against us. Not the big decisions, but still. Against the best team in the world at the moment, we could have done without that sort of thing. It wasn’t much, but it was there in my opinion, and I’d like to see your take on it.

    Also, I’d like to say that Barca are a great team and are better than us, at at least without the ball, but this NEVER gets mentioned, that they are also not shy of diving and cheating. Not a condemnation. Just a statement of fact.