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Barca Bankrupt v Arsenal: the match preview

Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

Untold Arsenal on Facebook here

by Phil Gregory

Arsenal go into this game off the back of a  disappointing 0-0 draw with Sunderland. Leading after the first leg, we know that a similar result against Barca would see us through to the quarter finals and the favourites knocked out, but I think few would put money on a 0-0 draw. Barcelona’s scoring record at the Nou Camp is a testament to both their attacking prowess and the lack of competition in the “sunny SPL” but most Arsenal fans expect to have to score at the Nou Camp if we are to progress.

A 2-1 win at home is a mixed result in the Champions League. Giving away an away goal is always a cause for concern, but we head into the second leg ahead on aggregate. The most improtant thing to remember is that we go into this game knowing that Barcelona only scored a single away goal: a goal from us at any point would cancel that out, and have Barcelona worried about us getting a second.

Even with a weakened attack given the injuries to Theo Walcott and Van Persie – though the Dutchman has travelled to Barcelona after training on Monday – I feel sure that we will score. Barcelona’s defensive injuries mean that their defence has weakened in line with our attacking absentees, and if they are forced to shuffle Busquets into the back four then they will lose a lot of ball retention in midfield too.

In my mind, there isn’t really a question about how we will approach this game. Much credit has been given by pundits to the deep defensive system Mourinho’s Inter set up on their way to the Champions League final last season. Yet what they fail to note is that Inter won the first leg after Barcelona had a lengthy coach journey and the Italians certainly got a bit of fortune from the referee. Indeed despite their defensive approach in the second leg, they actually lost over the 90 minutes. Had they not gone into the tie with the lead from the first leg – garnered thanks to a good dose of luck – they would not have reached the final.

Either way, Arsenal cannot play like that, and Wenger admitted  as much on Monday. We will instead play to our strengths and defend via possession, and close Barcelona down when they have the ball. Barcelona’s goal in the first leg came about as a result of a dodgy offside trap (Clichy played them onside, but we shouldn’t have been playing offside with a man running at our back four anyway) and elementary errors such as that will have to be avoided in the second leg. Our players won what was probably the hardest game of their lives and now they have to do it again, with the level likely raised once again at the Nou Camp.

Theo Walcott is a big miss, we all know that. More than just his pace however, the Barcelona tie was the game where I really stood up and realised: “Theo Walcott is playing like an Arsenal forward now”. Zonal Marking had some great chalkboards illustrating this a few weeks ago, showing Theo and Nasri’s touches in a game. Unlike what you’d expect, Theo doesn’t hug the touchline so much any more and comes inside well. He also showed some great feet against Barcelona, and played some beautifully weighted forward passes. These newly emerging aspects of his game allied to his pace will make him a potent inside forward , and he’s a huge miss in the second leg.

Theo’s the big absence, but Song is out too along with the usual long-termers. I’m going for the following line-up:

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Szcznesy

Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy

Denilson/Diaby Wilshere

Fabregas

Arshavin Bendtner Nasri

Szcznesy continues in goal, and will draw confidence from his last performance against Barcelona, where he made a few excellent saves, including a key stop deep into injury time. Sagna replaces Eboue from the first leg, with the rest of the back four unchanged. That defensive unit inspires confidence for me, having performed so admirably against the best Barcelona could throw at us in London.

In midfield, the absence of Song is a blow and no doubt controversially I’m hoping Denilson fills in. Diaby performed well against Sunderland and is arguably above the Brazilian in the usual pecking order, but |I have doubts about his defensive attributes. He can play that deeper midfield role in the Premier League where his physicality is an asset but such a Stone Age approach will leave him chasing shadows at the Nou Camp. Denilson’s game is based around interceptions, good positioning and tidy passing and I feel he will thrive in this game in an understated role. That said, with Barcelona’s midfield likely to lack height with Busquets potentially operating at centre back, Diaby might offer us a sure-fire option for the long ball in the middle of the park.

Next to him goes Jack Wilshere, who was thankfully passed fit after a slight ankle concern. Wilshere was outstanding in the first leg against Barcelona, both in his defensive and offensive play. He drove forward with the ball despite Barcelona pressure and played a key role in ensuring we kept the ball when we had it. Cesc Fabregas will hopefully return to the side after a small hamstring issue. He’s rated as 90% likely to be fit by Arsène and will undoubtedly slot into the playmaking role if fit enough to do so.

Van Persie versus Bendtner is a tough one to call. While the Dutchman will undoubtedly get the nod if considered 100% fit, his return to fitness so ahead of schedule suggests their may be an element of gambling around this. While he came through a training session on Monday apparently unscathed, I’m unconvinced Wenger will start him if there is any concern over his fitness, and will instead  keep him on the bench as an option. While I’d love to see Van Persie up against two makeshift centrebacks, Bendtner would have plenty of joy up against Busquets in the air too.

Out wide a resurgent Arshavin plays on the right and Nasri on the left. That’s a change from the usual, but the majority of their attacking threat from fullback originates from Alves, and Nasri is much better defensively. Either way, both of them will have to put in a shift defensively but still keep enough in the tank to catch Barcelona out on the counter attack. It’s not a task I envy of them, and with possession likely to be even more scarce than in the first leg all the attackers will be under enormous pressure to be efficient in front of goal when an opportunity arises.

Pinto

Alves Busquets Abidal Maxwell

Mascherano

Xavi Iniesta

Messi Villa Pedro

For me, the weaknesses in that line-up are all at the back. Maxwell isn’t great at all and even though we won’t have Theo to torment him, Arshavin is more than capable of taking advantage of his defensive shortcomings. At centre back they have two players who aren’t playing in their favoured positions, though Abidal has experience at centre back. We’ll take advantage of their individual shortcomings and hope that their lack of familiarity as a partnership comes back to haunt them. Throw in a backup keeper in goal and we may be in for a pleasant evening if we can create chances.

Further forward, Arsenal fans will know Mascherano well from his time at Liverpool. He’ll do a great job defensively, but isn’t fantastic on the ball and won’t win much in the air either. Barcelona will have less possession due to him losing the ball more often than Busquets would and he is an obvious target for concentrated pressing from our forward line.

Apart from that it is very much business as usual from Barcelona. We know full well what their forward line can do, and with them searching for a goal we will need probably the best defensive performance of the season from our back five unit.

On the tactics side of things, it’ll be interesting to see how Barcelona set up their defensive line. Their stop-gap defensive options are just as good on the ball as Pique and Puyol so they shouldn’t have any qualms about playing a high line from that point of view. However with Pinto being slower than Valdes they might be cautious of balls being played in behind the defence and might be tempted to sit a little deeper than normal to compensate.

I said for the first leg but it is more valid than ever now: our set pieces will be key. With no “real” centrebacks on the field for Barcelona and no giants in attack, man for man we will be a taller side than them across almost the entire pitch. We have to be putting good deliveries into the box and taking advantage of this fact at every opportunity. How ironic it would be if the goal that won the tie between the two “footballistically” best sides in Europe was won by a header in the six yard box!

Enjoy the game Gunners – win or lose it’s sure to be a memorable one.

Untold Arsenal

Making the Arsenal

The Real Immorality rests with Barcelona

Ashley Cole, the question that is never asked

185 comments to Barca Bankrupt v Arsenal: the match preview

  • slim

    Phil you forgot that all important stat- the result.

  • nicky

    A good prognosis. I like the sound of the height advantage….it doen’t happen very often!

  • critic

    our forward line is injured and their backline is injured. A slight advantage for barcelona.
    I wud start with eboue instead of arshavin becoz
    1)arsh bdy can’t take 2 games in 3 days.
    2)arsh will have a great impact in las 20-30 minutes.
    3)eboue will provide more defnesive stability over 60-70 minutes.

    Denilson will be a gmable worth taking.

  • Dan

    I just hope it’s a fair contest. As long as there are no poor ref decisions or red cards then I think it will be an even better spectacle than the 1st leg, if that’s possible.
    Can’t wait. I’m far too excited to do any work today, just sitting counting down the minutes.

  • gooner80

    Phil

    Im surprise4d you dint mention Barcas stamina? I feel if we are still in the game come the 70th minute we have a great chance even if we are losing 1-0 or 3-1 because barcas second half performances seem very fatigued especially on a bigger pitch, I feel arsenal can score late goals so as long as they are no more than 2 goals a head i feel we have a chance.

    Sagna is a big boost, Eboue scares me at the back and was the reason eboue has been used more for attacking then defending.

    I have been really looking forward to this game even if i didnt support arsenal.

    We dont have to win at the nou camp. if barca think it is going to be the same game as last year i cant see how it can be, we are a totally different side, with cesc, nasri and arshavin in the siide we always stand a chance, these players are match winners

    is samir the best dribbler in the world? is he the best dribbler I have ever seen quite possiblr

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think this is a game the whole world is looking forward to. Two teams with attacking skills and ability (if Cesc and RVP are 100% fit) and who don’t like to defend.

    Well for this one a 0-0 would do me nicely but like Phil said it is very unlikely to happen.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Bendtner or Rosicky started in the place of Arshavin. And then later in the game bringin Arshavin could have a big impact. Both are also a bit better in defending when needed and I think we will do need to defend at times in this game.

  • Dark Prince

    Has anyone thought of using Gibbs in place of Arshavin. Arshavin played the whole match against Sunderland and he must be tired, plus his defensive shift isn’t as good. I know Gibbs lacks the experience for the big games, but it looks like a calculated risk to start him as he too has good pace and he’ll help Clichy in defence as well.

  • gooner80

    Bendtner is more skillful but chamkh works his arse off and links up better.

    all the pressure is on barca and if they dont score early more and more pressure piles on them.

    if we need to and go all out attack I think we can break barca down.

    I know everyone is saying -0-0 wont happen but the most surprising scorelines can happen and with barca weakened defensively may be they might be more cautious. Mascherano is prone to a red card and without cheating I would tempt him into tackles early and if he gets booked he runs a big risk

  • Dark Prince

    Also whoever starts in place of Song, hopefully must hav a good game. Both Denilson and Diaby have had an unconvincing season.

  • terry

    Its going to be a very hard night for Cesc tonight, he will have to use every muscle in his body not to celebrate with the Barcelona boys. 😉 6-0 to barca and if denislon or diably play then 10-0

  • gooner80

    As long as Barca get a scare I will be happy

    @DP agreed AA is poor defensively and would make a better sub, clichy and gibbs work well together, and I think we do need to be defensive first half

  • capegooner

    Phil, thanks for this. I have stopped reading pretty much everything other than Untold because it upsets me when I read things like “a disappointing 0-0 draw with Sunderland”

    It was an excellent result for us considering that the ref failed to award us 28 free kicks (a net 25 when you include the 3 they didn’t get). Then add in the ludicrous foul throw, the penalty and the “offside” goal, and the result was not disappointing.

    I hope that if we get through it is on merit and not due the referee. This seasons trip to Braga proves that officiating in the Champions League can be as poor as in the EPL.

  • Dark Prince

    @Gooner80- also Guardiola made an interesting statement ystrday that he had never known about Wilshere b4 the 1st leg. So it suggests that he might know anything about Gibbs either. We could surprise them by using Gibbs’s pace which is almost as good as Walcott’s.

  • gooner80

    @DP very interesting, I think we need the surprise element. AW turned the match with his substitutions last time, when barca brought on subs I only felt they were weaker. Vela would have been perfect for this game as a sub.

    Arsenal are always more worrying against weaker teams, our players are going to be up for this, this is the reason you play football

  • Wrenny

    Gibbs or Eboue instead of Arshavin would be a good move. More energy, more pace, better protection for the full-back, and a more direct threat. For a team who will have less than 40% possession and will be looking to break quickly when they get the ball, it makes perfect sense.

  • alwaysgunner

    Dark Prince i never thought of that using Gibbs, that sounds a bloody good idea. I’m not altogether impressed about starting AA, would rather wait till the second half as I too believe that Barca although a great team do seem to fail int the stamina area. That I think is our trump card. They are not used to defending and that could be our key.

  • zubeir

    interesting talk about Andrei, anyway what about a coke-a-Kolo for this game 🙂

  • gooner80

    yeah the more I think about it, clichy shouldnt be left isolated

  • xD

    Woj

    Bak Jd Lk Gael

    Deni
    Cesc Jack

    Diaby Bendt Samir

    thoughts?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    DP ,not a bad suggestion to use Gibbs on the left to help Clichy and and strengthen the midfield – they have been played together before.
    Hoping for a early goal from us to calm our nerves and to rattle theirs.A score draw for me.
    Come on you Gunners !

  • Phil

    playing a defensive winger just invites them onto us. Ferguson deals with threats at fullback like Ashley Cole by playing his wingers very high – it means the fullback can’t afford to get forward very much.

    Samir offers a hell of a threat and does well defensively. We have to ask questions of them and impose ourselves, so a defensive player out wide is a big no no in my book.

    Totally forgot to put a score prediction which is apt with this game so hard to call.

  • xD

    But if we dont play Arshavin on the flank, then what offensive right wing options do we have?

  • Dark Prince

    @gooner80- Vela would have been a good choice for this game. Or if Van persie is fit then Bendtner can shift wide on left flank.

  • DeeDee

    You have one little mistake. Valdes will start the game. He already played last weekend. I wish it was Pinto, since he is only 185 tall (or short). 🙂

  • gooner80

    @Phil

    dont you think we need to keep it tight for awhile because we wont be seeing much of the ball and clichy gibbs going forward are very quick when we do have the ball, Arshavin is a game changer when the game has opened up but without the ball he is ineffective, Nas can do both.

    IMO barca will press us hard and they have tremendous work ethic when you see the distances covered they do this pressure because in truth they are very poor defensively, there is going to be a spell where we just wont see the ball, I would just tell gibbs run your heart out for 60 mins, andIMO we need decent options on the bench.

    But I make you right Phil Aw is not going to play Gibbs,AW believes in his philosphy so he wont adapt to barca, all I want is for us to be in the game come half time, I think we possess an advantage when it comes to corners and the main hurdle with barca is getting the ball off them

  • Dan

    I like the gibbs idea on the wing. I disagree with phil, I don’t think he will be too defensive. He loves to fly forward when we’re in possession but has the pace to get back coupled with good defensive ability. I think I’m right in saying Gibbs used to be a midfielder aswell? Then we have Arshavin as a 60 minute wonder sub to come on and terrorise them!
    They’re clearly scared of pace aswell, they’re terrified of Walcott. Gibbs can also go on more sustained sprints as opposed to the Arshavin 10 meter burst of pace.

  • pires

    Stomach in knots, inability to sit still, anxiety creeping into every limb…it can only be one thing, Arsenal Barcelona in the Champions League. I am so damn excited/nervous…Last year Barca decimated our second string and revelled in it like an achievement as did our rivals at home, fair enough. Tonight i want revenge for Paris ’06, a bus journey home i will never forget, urging myself never to forget how much it hurt. Tonight I’ll be using that memory and the disgusting pursuit of Cesc over the summer to fuel me. Tonight i’ll be in the middle of the 12 pins in finsbury park waiting for the sheer bliss of getting soaked in warm beer knowing that it means we’ve scored that crucial away goal. I’ll be singing we all follow The Arsenal and somehow thinking the louder i sing it in London, the better they’ll play in Spain…10 hours to go…you all know that if we win, there isnt an opiate based drug in the world that is going to rival that feeling, if we lose, i want to do it with our heads held high knowing we made them work harder than they have done this whole season. Last season Guardiola said it was the best they had ever played in the first leg at the emirates and Messi had one of his best in the 2nd leg meaning they had nothing left in the tank for the rest of the comp and that was against our second string, this year we ARE even better. Too close to call but come on gooners, even when all logic is telling you otherwise, BELIEVE!!!

  • Wrenny

    @Dan, Exactly. don’t see Gibbs as a defensive-minded switch at all, his work-rate will help protect Clichy but likewise his pace will help replicate the threat of Walcott’s pace – which Barcelona have been very scared of.

    I would argue that NOT injecting pace into the front three in the form of either Gibbs or Eboue is more likely to invite pressure, as Barca’s back four will feel more comfortable in pressing higher without the threat of genuine pace in behind them.

  • mehoot

    @pires – hit the nail on the head mate – lovely post

  • Mahdain

    Interesting statistic, no team since the implementation of the 16 team KO stage has managed to knock Arsenal out of the CL and go on to win the tournament unless it was a final. They either got knocked out in the next round or lost in the final if it was a semi final game that they beat Arsenal.

    In short if you go down Arsenal’s path in the CL KO Stage you are destined to lose. So goodbye Barca whatever the result 😉

  • Wrenny

    @Mahdain
    So what you’re saying is Barca might aswell just let us win, because they have no chance of lifting that trophy now. 😀 Being drawn against the Arsenal killed their chances straight away.

  • Mahdain

    @wrenny lol i think its such an interesting coincidence….does it mean we curse other teams? 🙂

  • Sammy The Snake

    I don’t mind this ref. He usually controls games well.

  • Phil

    I don’t see how playing a left back up front is any way not a defensive measure. He would offer pace on the break but that’s about it. he would limit our attacking play, and make Alves more likely to press on.

    Better to give Alves something to think about by playing Nasri high up against him. Nasri is more than capable of doing a good defensive job against Alves when required too

  • gooner80

    @Phil

    I dont think anyone is worried about Samir,it is more the little Russians work ethic because against barca there is no room for passengers, and it is more to do with being effective and having options that will change the game and getting the mostr out of AA; AA could terrorise them from the bench, he always looks exhausted when he starts. For a long time in this game Phil all we will be doing is defending, and I think everyone is worried about his defending

    But Aw picks the team like i said earlier and he is the boss

  • Phil

    We’ll pop Arshavin on the right – there’ll be a lot less of an attacking threat from Maxwell there. Should be ok like that IMO

  • Dark Prince

    Phil- interesting point about Arshavin going on right flank. But i have never seen him playing there. Plus you’re missing that Arshavin played the whole game against Sunderland. Dont you think Arshavin might not be able to handle Barca 3 days after playing full 90 min?? He will be better suited as a substitute during the latter parts of the game when barca get tired. Also one important thing that we’re missing regarding this issue is that Song is unavailable!! If he was there then Arshavin’s defensive work could have been handled by him. But since even he’s not there, Arshavin’s flank will be more vulnerable.

  • Phil

    DP : Arshavin’s done it in our most recent games against barca, probably to nullify Alves rather than put him up against Maxwell specifically. Tiredness is a factor, but I’d rather get the first sixty minutes out of Arshavin personally. Plus playing Eboue/Gibbs might reduce our effectiveness in possession, which in the long run is going to make the whole team run even more to win the ball back.

    Barca do seem to tire late on – I don’t think they’re used to working as hard for their wins. We’ll take advantage of that as I think we’re the fittest side in the EPL

  • Dark Prince

    So its rosicky on the left and diaby in central midfield…more suprising is that barca has put Adriano in defence

  • gooner80

    cant believe Rosicky is starting + Diaby what is the old Fox up to?

  • Andrei

    Pretty embarrassing first half for Arsenal. Let’s hope to see different Arsenal in the second half.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Cesc with such a mistake! Still in it, just barely.

  • Bexxy

    Unacceptable first half. Can’t believe no half time changes. Fingers crossed we can regain some pride in 2nd half

  • Andrei

    That’s what I call efficiency. Arsenal scored without a single shot on goal.

  • A Casual Observer

    Anyone want to comment on that second yellow for RvP?

  • Dale

    @ACO
    We were always going to be up against it with eleven vs eleven against Barcelona. I think twelve vs ten is just asking a little too much of us.

  • Wrenny

    Are you Phil Dowd in disguise?

  • zubeir

    BARCE sucks! UEFA sucks! Platini sucks!

  • tim

    Wow. Scumbag cheats.

  • gooner80

    our boys did us proud.

    I hope we can push on in the league and I hope man U stay in this competition

  • Bexxy

    Out thought, out fought, out passed and out classed. Fancy us for the premier league even stronger now.

  • tim

    i’m sick of this shit. and how are some “fans” on that fucking “arsenal” blog using this as an excuse to rip on our players?

    who is that ref? hope the authorities check his bank account tonight.

  • Mihir Saudagar

    Cannot believe I can say this! Well done Almunia! 🙂
    OH and 10 vs 12 was just too much for us.I have always heard the “pundits” say shoot first and look for the offside later! What did RvP do wrong?

  • Uj31

    Guys, now watch our season fall apart.
    Im being a realist here. We lost to bir”longball”mingham, drew with sunderland and now lost to barceloonatics.
    Whatever the excuses for what has happened so far, Its demoralizing for us fans, the players maybe more.
    The referee was an idiot for giving RVP the second yellow but RVP shouldnt have picked up the first yellow card so cheaply.

  • walter

    That is what I always say to players when they pick up a stupid first yellow card: see that it don’t haunt you later in the game. It did.

    I was expecting Bussaca to give a bit of advantage to Barcelona. When it came to body to body challenges you could see that Barcelona play with a different set of rules. They feel contact, they go down and the refs give the foul.
    If Arsenal do this in the EPL refs like Dowd, Dean and our ref for Saturday (Webb I think) let play continue.

    Abidal putting his hands round the neck of Van Persie should have been a red card in the first half. But I saw the ref turning his back to players a bit too much. Anyway you will read more about this in the following days.

  • Shard

    Well, what do you say about that.. 3 incidents stood out for me.

    1) Cesc doing a backheel and giving up the goal

    2) The referee killing the game

    3) bendtner not proving the referee wrong

    Barcelona were brilliant. No doubt about that. But we knew that anyway. We also knew we had a chance, especially in the last 20 mins. That option being taken away left us with nothing, and Barca with nothing to worry about. If anything, the neutrals watching the game should be up in arms. How to ruin a football match. Why can not ONE, just ONE game go by, where we do not have to feel aggrieved with the ref?

  • Mahdain

    @bexxy you forgot out ref`d

  • Bexxy

    Our season won’t fall apart. We will be stronger for this. Let’s be honest, the aggregate scoreline flatters us. The ref fucked up the 1st Leg, and we benefited from that. This tie was a mismatch. Barcelona made more passes over 2 legs than we will in next 10 matches. They were pure class.

  • Shard

    I also would like to point out something that seems to fly under the radar. Barcelona for all their footballing talent, are twats..

  • Ronnie Brown

    I think we have the potential to be the best team in the world in the future, I think we would have won this game without the incorrect sending off, we nearly did it with 10 men and without Song & Walcott.

  • Ronnie Brown

    100 percent Barcelona are assholes, they are a great football side, and I would have congratulated them despite being such pricks, waving cards…. no-one seemed to say nothing when it’s them but if an Arsenal player did that it would be jumped on, diving, arrogance, just not good people in general in their team, not including everyone, but many of them, one of their players grabbed RVP’s neck too…. nothing happened about that either.

  • Ronnie Brown

    When we get Theo and Song back and keep current players fit I think we are very much in this title race, I feel we can beat anyone with a full team.

  • Shard

    @Bexxy

    I disagree. Yes, Barcelona are much better than us at keeping the ball. But that doesn’t mean they were better than us. We rode our luck, but equally Barcelona were forced into submission in the first leg. We may have been nothing but part of a training exercise of attack vs defence today, but we did defend very very well. We would have attacked too, but being down to 10 men makes that impossible against that good a team. I never got the feeling, in either of the legs, that we were outclassed. They were better than us, but NOT a class apart.

  • IndianGooner

    Walter,
    I’m waiting for ur review…

    Even though “the c*nt with the whistle” didn’t see the Abidal incident, there were 5 (YES, FIVE) others on the sides.. None of them saw that??? I just can’t accept that..

  • walter

    I think in the first half we kept Barcelona very good away from our goal. Until Cesc lost his mind with that backheel. They didn’t have much chances.
    The ref with his early bookings made life more difficult then needed for some players.

  • Ronnie Brown

    We are a dangerous team, I’m excited about this squad, I just hope we keep everyone together, our defence could be great too, I rate Koschieny, Djuoure and Vermaleon highly, Squillaci has looked a bit better recently, and I heard Bartley is a prospect and Miquel looks a great prospect to me, I think we are well in the title race, and we could certainly beat United, with a full team I would we have the ability to beat anyone.

  • Shard

    Barcelona do lead a very protected existence. Any touch on them is deemed an immediate foul. That’s not complaining, its an observation.

    One thing must be said.. Almunia was BRILLIANT.

  • Shard

    @indian gooner

    I agree.. they did see it. But didn’t deem it worthy of any action. Because it’s the ‘best team in the world’. They were bottlers the lot of them.

  • Jerom J.

    That was just a ridiculous match, I do agree with most comments, its obvious had the refs been dowd and the likes doubt the barcelona players were given fouls. How is grabbing van persie’s neck not even a foul??

    I loved Wenger’s post match interview though, dont remember the exact words but it was along the line of “I told him what i thought about that decision”, when he was asked what happend between him and the ref in the tunnel. ahaha, i could just imagine all the words that actually came out.

    And I do agree that the 2nd yellow was a joke, he kicked it within a second of the whistle, even redknapp was saying it was hard to hear anything next to the pitch.

  • IndianGooner

    Walter and Tony,
    I’m sorry for the c-word.. But I’m so pissed off with him tonight.. Here’s a special moment in his professional career..

    http://www.20min.ch/dyim/2106e8/B.M600,1000/images/content/1/4/4/14466050/8/topelement.jpg

    And Swiss Ramble tweeted that today’s man in the middle doesn’t have much respect in Switzerland.. No wonder he is in the top ones of UEFA.. What ius the odd for him to be officiate the CL final at Wembley..

  • tim

    abidal neck grab on van persie:

    http://www.daylife.com/photo/0gu58901ZRcHC?q=Arsenal+Football+Club

    says it all that this was not carded, but RVP was twice.

    no wonder RVP was so angry. i don’t blame him. dirty barca. dirty refs.

    i’m just sick of this. any neutral watching would be shocked at what happened.

    REFEREES DECIDING MATCHES IS NOT WHAT FANS TUNE IN FOR.

  • Shard

    As far as only our team is concerned, I think the positives are

    1) the way we defended. Whoever claims that are defence is poor is having a laugh. Should give us immense confidence for the games ahead.

    2) Jack Wilshere. Was absolutely everywhere, tireless, and refused to give up. Set up Bendtner at the end too.

    3) Manuel Almunia.. Was on fire. Seems hungry to get his place back, and well might with Szczesny’s injury anyway.

    4) Samir Nasri. Again.. Full of fire. Showed desire and stamina combined with some bits of skill. Oh if only we had all 11 men.. Sigh

    Negatives would be
    1) the injury to Szczesny..Potentially season ending

    2) Cesc Fabregas. That backheel was horribly stupid and it annoyed me intensely

    3) Nicklas Bendtner.. I think he gets far too much criticism and too little praise. I think he is a very good player, and a very good prospect for the future too… BUT HE SHOULD HAVE PUT THAT CHANCE AWAY.

  • tim

    oh well, RVP will be banned soon, i’m sure.

    yup, basically defines a corrupt system. get screwed over and complain about it, and it’s worse.

  • Bexxy

    I feel sorry for Cesc. He didn’t deserve such a high profile Fuck up!

  • Wrenny

    Barcelona’s diving, play-acting and injury-feigning was embarrassing to watch. What little respect I had left for them is now most definitely gone.

    The referee was a joke! How can he not simply apply common sense and give RVP the benefit of the doubt – that with 90,000 hollering fans he could not hear the whistle? Another red card for the Arsenal, we must be the ‘dirtiest’ team in the world 😀

    In a way I’m glad that we’re out of Europe, we’ve been knocked out by the best team by a one goal margin and leave with our heads held very high. We can now apply a laser-like focus to the league without more big European games which Wenger himself admitted were distracting his players.

    Oh, and Almunia was SUPERB!

  • Shard

    @tim

    ya but it’ll only be for the group games next year. Shouldn’t matter too much.

  • Shard

    @Wrenny

    Barcelona should never be referred to as top class.. They play some brilliant football, but they have no idea what it means to have class… Pep’s comments before the game about Jack were unnecessary and out of character. Maybe it just shows that Barcelona were worried about us.

  • Andrei

    I don’t think we need any excuses in blaming the referee. Arsenal had very decent performance but on the balance of two games Barcelona came out as a better team. Arsenal had their chances and by no means it was a one way affair but overall result is fair you have to admit it. As somebody mentioned earlier it is just a tough match up for Arsenal. Arsenal are not good at closing out the spaces and applying all field pressure. They are simply not built this way and they don’t have enough physical presence. And even if they did you need referee cooperation in order to make this tactic work. Last year Inter ended up playing with the 10 men most of the game. Chelsea managed to escape with 0-0 draw at Camp Nou with referee letting them bully Barcelona for 90 minutes.

  • Wrenny

    @Shard
    You must have misread – I didn’t refer to them as top class, and I never would!

  • tim

    Some people are morons.

    A common conversation on the blogosphere (including Arsenal ones):

    Comment: “The red card killed the game.”
    Response: “No it didn’t. Arsenal had only 24% possession and 0 shots on goal so they sucked to begin with.”

    DON’T THESE FUCKERS REALIZE THAT THOSE STATISTICS INCLUDE THE 30-35 odd minutes when were down by one man?

    Arsenal’s game plan was to suck up pressure in the 1st and come out w/ guns blazing in the 2nd. The penalty happened right when were starting to take the came to those dirty cheats.

    Fucking stupid morons. No logic.

    I’m sick of this. Please, for the love of God, let Saturday be a game where players determine the match, not the bribed refs.

  • Shard

    @Wrenny

    My apologies.. I meant to agree with you, but it came across as if I was contradicting you.

  • tim

    No, Andrei, I blame the refs.

    Yes, I agree: “Arsenal are not good at closing out the spaces and applying all field pressure. They are simply not built this way and they don’t have enough physical presence.”

    Which is why it is even more important to have 11 men on the field for the last 40% of the game!

    That decision killed the game. Of course, who knows if Arsenal would’ve won, but we would’ve simply lost to Barca (and not also to refereeing decisions).

  • IndianGooner

    Andrei,
    The game TURNED its head with the red card.. After we scored Farca panicked and we’ve having the better game and looked to score than them. The sending off helped them.. If this isn’t where you get pissed off, then when?? As we have seen last season’s and this season’s home legs, we come stronger in the 2nd half especially in the final 20-25mins.. The ref simply didn’t allow this.. That is why people are mad..

  • Andrei

    On the side note an impressive performance from Shakhtar today with Eduardo scoring the 3rd goal and Howard Webb doing typical EPL style officiating. With his “let the game flow” approach he let increasingly frustrated Roma to get away with some really nasty stuff and showed only one red card instead of well deserved three.

  • Shard

    @tim

    Forget them.. They do not matter. Our team played well, and was doing what was required until the 56th minute. Even beyond actually since the goal for Barca didn’t arrive till later. All the claptrap about the better team winning is stupid. The reason a match is played over 90 mins with supposedly fair and competent referees is because the better team doesn’t always win, and almost nobody ever says that the team that lost were the more deserving.

  • Gooner Gal

    I am totally gutted, I cannot believe a ref would ruin a match by sending off RVP for such a stupid reason! What is really going on?

    I can take us being beaten, but not like that.

  • Wrenny

    @Shard
    Not to worry, I thought you might have seen ‘top class’ somewhere in my comment. But Barca don’t have an ounce of it.

    Guardiola’s comments were just bizarre, and I agree completely out of character. He’s usually very complimentary of opposition teams. First he says that he has many players like Wilshere in the B team, then when asked about this he said that Wenger can afford to play Jack because he’s not under pressure to win trophies. And when talking about RVP, he wondered whether Walcott might also be flying in late by jet. Very catty and snippy, don’t really understand what was up with him.

  • Shard

    @ Gooner Gal

    I know. The manner in which the game was taken away from us is the hardest to take.. We may well have lost anyway, but now we’ll never know. All the same, look at the positives. Our defence was very good today. Our attack we know is good anyway, even if we weren’t allowed to show it today. Though if only Bendtner had scored that one. That would have been a real slap in the face of the Barca players and the referee (one he couldn’t have given a card for either)

  • Edders

    Walter, can you look at the number of times this season that we have been the victim of blatant timewasting this season, but the referee has done nothing.

    I’ve been to the Emirates for most home games this season and I can’t remember a single booking for timewasting despite at least half a dozen teams using this as a tactic from the first minute. Yet RVP gets a booking for kicking the ball less than a second after the whistle. That is waht makes this decision really difficult to take for me.

  • Jerom J.

    @Shard cant agree more, sigh… but who knows, with a goal, he might just give bendtner a red card for kicking the ball in the net…

  • Andrei

    @IndianGooner Yes it was annoyning and it was probably a bit biased but nothing out of ordinary. In two games Arsenal had their share of breaks including Busquets own goal so did Barca. It was not bad officiating that made Cesc do his stupid back heel. Neither did it cause Bendtner to miss his chance.

  • tim

    @shard

    true, true. have to take the positives somehow…

  • Shard

    @Wrenny

    As I said, I think they were really worried about us and I guess Guardiola was just trying his hand at mind games. All the same those comments were very poor and frankly, uncalled for. But it is Barcelona we’re talking about.

    Did anyone catch a banner in the crowd that they showed just before the second half? It was in Spanish which I can read a bit of, and it said, “Cesc, stop the nonsense, come to Barcelona”

    From top to bottom they are rotten and arrogant, and perhaps we’re doing Pep a favour by exempting him from that assessment.

  • gooner80

    i WAS MUCH MORE DEFLATED after the sunderland game, our defence is not bad they got5 some practice in.

    AW knows much more about management than I will ever know but why did he play rosicky and diaby, I just didnt get that.

    The refs are having too much of an influence on the final result.

    Barca are good but they were given this match I reckon this could have easily gone into extra time or we could have got a second, The damage of us going out in the champions league was caused by complacency in the group stages we smashed shaktar in the group stages and we should have been placing barca much later on.

    The only thing missing from arsenals game is weeding on stupid mistakes we are a top team in world football and shouldnt be making these mistakes on a regular basis, and it is not one individual it is a collective thing, may be it is the Youth/inexperience thing but it has cost us, Im not going to slate players but I think it is the thing that is stopping us getting to that next level. take today for example if cesc wouldnt have done that silly back heel we go in 0-0 at half time who knows what could have happened? these are things that can get sorted pretty quickly.

    I dont think players are going to be shattered by this but just annoyed, I think we can give the league a real go

  • Shard

    @Andrei

    If you’re arguing we needed luck in this tie, in order to progress then that is true, and was always going to be the case. But you can even argue that Barcelona were ‘lucky’ to get through in that Robin got sent off for nothing.. What could have happened, or should have happened, or who was lucky has no bearing on the final result. Barcelona won and that’s that. We could have won too, and we most definitely had more than a chance at 1-1. But again, could doesn’t matter.

    The contention that Barcelona were overwhelmingly better than us over the two legs is something I would not agree with. You can’t claim the result is supreme and then deny Arsenal the right to the win at the Emirates. We deserved that, and all of us.. not just Arsenal fans, but the paying public, deserved better from the ref in this match.

  • Wrenny

    Szczesny’s injury doesn’t look good, seems like he might be out for the rest of the season. We’ll have to recall Mannone or Shea from their loan, or both! As I understand it Mannone is also injured and didn’t play tonight for Hull…

    But at least we have RVP and Cesc back, and Song should be back too. Theo and Vermaelen aren’t too far behind.

  • Shard

    gooner80

    I thought wenger did very well. I think we were set up more defensively than we expected. But Diaby did ok and Rosicky was probably there because he would offer more protection than Arshavin. If we did need a goal later, we could call on Arshavin and Bendtner. Tactically, Wenger showed his willingness to change and his awareness. We were almost playing a 6-3-1 at times to curb the threat from their full backs. It was working too until Fabregas tried something stupid.

  • Anne

    @Wrenny: “Guardiola’s comments were just bizarre, and I agree completely out of character.”

    A good rule of thumb for when you see translated comments that appear “out of character” is that they were mistranslated, probably to add some extra gravitas to the occasion.

    That being said, the last way I would have chosen for this game to be decided was on a controversial refereeing decision. That’s exactly what I was saying to my friends before the game was played, and although I’m ultimately happy my team won, I’m really gutted at the way it played out (I was already gutted that Barca met Arsenal, my other favorite team, so early in the competition, so I guess this is just the icing on the cake). Lo siento, Artilleros, y muy buen jugado. Pienso realmente que podrías haber ganado.

  • Shard

    @Anne

    ganaremos..gracias..

    But Anne, the comments weren’t translated and I didn’t read them. they were in the press conference. You’ve been on here before saying that such comments are mostly just the media playing their tricks. While that may be true, I do not think that is all there is to it. I truly enjoy the football your team plays and hope my team can reach that level in the future. But I would never want my team to behave the way Barcelona do. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

  • Gooner Gal

    Shard, at 1-1, I think that Farca looked a little scared and stunned that we were back in front. It took them a long time to get the equaliser and I don’t think they had the stamina to keep launching waves of attacks against us. I agreed with everything you said in your 10.04pm post too.

    Hopefully the injustice of this game will spur the players on and we need to rest and focus so that we can make the mancs our whipping boys. Unless Mike Riley comes out of retirement to appease the silent one.

  • Wrenny

    @Anne
    Shard has said it already, those comments were made by Guardiola in English during the pre-match press conference. Here’s the clip:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=938XKq2N96E

    To be fair he begins by being complimentary about Wilshere, but his belief that Barcelona have “many players like him” in their second team comes across as incredibly arrogant and trying to belittle Arsenal.

  • gooner80

    Oh we scared them alrite, the ref changed this game, I think in extra time we would have won

    But at the moment they are technically better, but you could see they were rattled, once we went down to 10 men that was it, up until that point i thought we was going to go through

  • Laundryender

    question

    To every one that pays money tosee the game!!

    To every season ticket holder, every away traveller, every European traveller (I fall into all of those categories but was not in Baraca tonight)

    Are we wasting our time??

    is there so much money involved it is all pre loaded??

    Would my money be better spent on my family??

    I am starting to feel so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Shard

    @Wrenny

    Initially I thought he was being complimentary. Even the players in the second team bit I was willing to pass off as saying that Arsenal have done well to promote him and that barca teach the same qualities to their youth.. But it was when he said it’s because Arsenal are under less pressure to win that I felt annoyed. He wasn’t being complimentary. Again, out of character, but who’s to say the earlier bits haven’t been an act. After all, it’s when the pressure is on that the real character shines through.

  • gooner80

    @ Wrenny

    what Pep is saying is that no one can get ahead of xavi and inesta, no matter how good they are, Jack probably wouldnt have got the games if Rambo didnt get injured so what Pep is saying is true. he is saying Barca have really good players in their reserves the reason why cesc left to get football, dont arsenal send very talented youngsters out on loan because they just wont get a game, Pep is not being arrogant the man is a gentleman and he rates Jack, if Xavi or inesta was not there some of their youngsters might have come through but they are just not going to get a game when you have two of the best midfielders in the world

  • Shard

    @Gooner Gal

    I think we will draw positives from the game. We KNOW we can beat Barcelona because we have done it and done it playing our football. We also know now that our defence can hold it’s own.At 1-1 I was sure we would find a way to win. We very nearly did it at the end even with 10 men. For me there is much to be confident about. The only worry is if Almunia is to play, can he replicate today’s form through the season?

  • Andrei

    @Shard I never claimed that Barcelona were overwhelmingly better. Arsenal did close the gap and that gave them real chance. But they didn’t take it. Yes there were some calls that didn’t go our way but that is unfortunately part of the game. Do not forget that Arsenal got some close calls in the first leg too. Neither do I think that RVP “got sent off for nothing”. It was second yellow card for marginally bookable offense – he just didn’t get the benefit of doubt.

    But this is beyond the point. The point is that Arsenal (and we fans) should focus on things that they can control. Like not committing silly mistakes. Or capitalizing on the only scoring chance after managing to produce zero shots on goal for entire game. That is what Inter did last year when they sent Barcelona packing with Inter player getting sent off in equally dubious circumstances.

  • Anne

    @Shard: “I truly enjoy the football your team plays and hope my team can reach that level in the future. But I would never want my team to behave the way Barcelona do. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is.”

    Fair enough.

    @Wrenny:

    Again, fair enough. Thanks for the in-context quote. I guess I stand corrected on this one, although I would disagree about the way Pep meant for the comments to come across.

    I’m in a difficult position because I follow Barca and Arsenal, and I hate it when there’s conflict between the two sides (mainly because, wherever I go, I find myself subjected to heated vitriol, albeit for opposite reasons). I always feel like I need to find a way to bridge the gap and be an intermmediary. Please don’t take it personally. For the time being, I’ll try to shut up and keep my comments to myself until some time has passed since the two sides played each other. Fair enough? 🙂 Like I said before, well played, and hasta luego (mucho luego :)).

  • Shard

    @Andrei

    We also got lucky with the penalty not given in the first half today. I agree that what could have happened doesn’t matter. In this case I think the referee was just useless and a bottler. Shied away from the big decisions , EXCEPT when he gave Van Persie a yellow card, for nothing. I’m sorry. That sort of call is not marginal. It’s downright foolish. He was also more obliging towards barcelona, though that was to be expected. Reputations affect people. That’s why i’m not raging about the referee. I do not believe he set out to cheat, though the decision to send robin off was very suspicious.

    Regarding the mistakes we made. My first comment after the match listed 3 incidents that I thought defined the game. The Cesc backheel and Bendtner miss were two of them. I agree that sort of thing has to be cut down on. I was especially annoyed with Cesc because with 2 mins left till half time, I could not understand why our captain, and our most intelligent passer, would do that.

  • gooner80

    @Andrei
    I agree it is silly mistakes

    @Anne barca are a decent side, and some of our players could learn a lot from them, But I think they are not as good as what they are made out to be and when they come up against an anti footballing side i think their weaknesses will be exposed.I do like the way they play I just wonder how they would deal with the likes of stoke

  • Shard

    @Anne

    I do not mean any disrespect to you, and I find your attempts at..rapproachment, as indeed your balanced and considered comments, admirable. I wish I could agree with you regarding the club’s behaviour. Barcelona have been a team i’ve liked for long..the days of Rivaldo.. But in all honesty, I cannot bring myself to respect a club, which in my view doesn’t show respect to others. That said, I have respect for you, and I also respect your feelings about your club.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Proof that refs are bent or can be made so.
    Why are we on the end of so many decisions in whatever competition we play in?

    Go fo for the EPL now!

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Laundryender, I am cancelling my SKY subscription because having to listen to 3 ‘pool pundits talk about Arsenal left me fuming. I would rather watch online with commentary in another language. I can think of better things to do with my money.

    I am Gooner – win, loose or draw, I love to watch my team play. Though it is gut wrenchingly hard at the moment as it feels like games have been rigged and have left me despairing a little bit.

    @ Shard, exactly! Arsenal are the best and if we don’t win anything this season it will be a travesty.

    Manonne might need to be recalled if necessary, we can’t really expect Shea to cover. Is Szczesny’s season over then?

  • Clock Ender

    @Laundryender
    I got that feeling a while back. Even my cousin, a season ticket holder for over twenty years, is having doubts now.

    It’s turning into WWE, nothing more than an adrenaline fueled pantomime.

    My cousin is seriously considering dumping his season ticket and going to support Barnet next season. I myself am looking into methods of maybe stinging the bookmakers for a few bob out of this setup, I’m not staking hot cash yet but starting making tentative predictions and tracking the progress using Paddy Power’s odds.

  • Clock Ender

    BTW.. Paddy Power don’t seem to be taking bets on whether there’ll be a red card at Old Trafford on saturday. Do they know something we don’t?

  • Phv

    Yes, Van Persie should never have been sent off for that but Messi’s valid goal at the Emirates was disallowed and Diaby made an obvious penalty that was not given and Van Persie hit Alves in the face which could have been a straight red.I think we probably would have qualified with 11 vs 11 but you should not think that we were the only team that was robbed.

  • Andrei

    Watching today Eduardo poacher’s goal for Shakhtar against Roma I had this nagging question – why did Arsenal let him go? I’m sure he would have done better then Bendtner in that game winning situation. Why did they have more patience and faith in Bendtner than in Eduardo?

  • Gooner Gal

    I am sorry to say, the disgraceful Farca were like a dirty old Italian team. They couldn’t stay on their feet, rolled around like gymanists, lots of theatrical screams and sly fouls. They also reminded me of the reason I stopped watching Italian football a while ago. Hardly a performance to be proud of and there is no way they are the best team in the world.

  • Johnny Deigh

    After reading Walter’s recent articles about “tilting” matches, this ref was doing what Walter said to look out for. They would do little fouls, trips, and tugs on our defenders or midfielders deep in our half, the ref would play on and we would end up losing possession a pass or two later. Then almost every foul we did against them was whistled and sometimes booked for little or no reason. You could see this right from the start of the match. No wonder we hardly had any possession.
    Van Persie’s sending off right when we had equalised and were turning the corner just stinks of biased intervention.

  • Clock Ender

    @Johnny Deigh
    You’re spot on.

    That’s why I’ve no further interest in football apart from possibly exploiting the match fixing to research the possibility of making money out of it.

    If the game’s bent, then there’s obviously room to exploit it.

    Sad really. When I was a season ticket holder this would have all been unthinkable but now… real life intrudes and if I can make a few bob I’ll go for it.

    I’d love to see Arsenal with silverware but it won’t happen with the current bent regime in charge in the Premier League, FA, UEFA and FIFA.

    Declan Hill’s book ‘The Fix’ explains a lot of how it works.

    We’re watching a pantomime, not a sport.

  • Andrei

    @Johnny Deigh I watched the game again and quite honestly didn’t see much of a “tilting”. What saw however is that in the first half Arsenal lost the ball 17(!) times mostly in their half under no pressure at all or without attempt to start attacking move or clear dangerous situation. 4 for of these giveaways were in vicinity or inside Arsenal penalty area including Cesc’s silly back heel. If you give away ball cheaply that many times sooner or later a team like Barcelona will capitalize. I thought that Barcelona were actually quite sloppy in punishing Arsenal.

  • Laundryender

    I know Arsenal were poor, and did not deserve much out of the game. I have no issue with Barca winning, and I know decisions have gone against them in the game but

    That Ref did all he could to help Barca at vital moments, the game had followed the pattern of the previous two, Arsenal knew that Barca would tire and they could exploit the space, NB chance proved this fact.

    The Ref did all he could to make sure it did not happen. The way he turned his back on occasions and missed incidents was inexplicable and not the way a top Ref goes about his work. In fact it is the sort of thing an assessor would mark him down for. The RVP sending off was as bad a decision as I have ever seen, one that guaranteed Arsenal would not be allowed any period of pressure as the last two matches.

    Fact is EUFA make huge amounts out of Barca, Man Utd, Bayern and AC Milan. Also remember Triesman comments on Spanish FA buying Refs, and looking at Barca finances.

    Well done to Barca they truly are a joy to watch, but is it true sport we are watching or is it all a big pre determined drama.

    Ps Remember Chelsea, and the fury over penalties against Barca. Like Arsene Wenger famously said on another incident “I do not believe in coincidence”

  • Bexxy

    Is your glass half empty or half full. It’s a great time to go to Old Trafford and then we are in a great position to win the premier league.

    Let’s look forward , not back!

  • Rhys Jaggar

    The way I saw the game was like this:

    1. Arsenal, despite being totally overwhelmed in midfield both before and after the sending-off, still had a chance right at the end of 180 minutes to go through. So that’s progress compared to last year.
    2. Arsenal’s much criticised defence and goalkeeper Almunia were heroes to a man as they needed to be to stop a 10-1 drubbing.
    3. Arsenal’s midfield isn’t yet as good as people think it is. Nasri was touted before the game as ‘a future best player in the world’. Fabregas has had similar praise in the past. Wilshere is the great English hope. Rosicky was ‘the little Mozart of Czech Republic’. Diaby the new Vieira. They were shown a new level of midfield play for 45 minutes…….and didn’t have any answers. Not last night at any rate……
    4. van Persie’s dismissal was farcical but his first booking was stupid and unnecessary. For a senior player, it’s something he should have cut out of his game already.
    5. I’ve never seen Fabregas have such an anonymous game for Arsenal. Was he unfit? Or simply marked out of the game. Much for him to ponder on there…….
    6. Why did Arsenal think that Route One football would work against Barca?!

    For all that though, there was a feeling of the 2005 FA Cup Final about it for me. A real backs to the wall job. Which was working for 63 of the first 68 minutes.

    This side showed at Old Trafford in December that they could stand up for themselves physically. They showed last night that they can face the finest passing side the world has seen and stand firm for long periods also. Important qualities to have.

    They couldn’t have done either of those things last year.

    If Barcelona need a bent ref, and note I use the word IF, then shame on them. They’re good enough to be able to play fair IMHO.

    For those thinking of making money from ‘fixed matches’, I turned £10 in £1250 in 3 weeks in January, but I noticed that regularly after 150 bets (it happened twice at the same stage of progression) strange results happened to wipe the gains out. I used online betting sites (I won’t name them but think about fairness and justice……) where all can of course be monitored and tracked on a daily basis to keep the customers in order (god forbid anyone should be ALLOWED TO WIN). So I’d go for cash bets in different betting shops if I were you. And remember they probably have CCTV so wear wigs if you want to remain anonymous……..or place your bets no more than 3 minutes before kick-off (even that’s dodgy as half time messages can be distributed if matches are fixed, ditto usage of substitutes if it’s really a fixed pantomime)…..

    You won’t find things any better in Tennis or Horse Racing, I’m afraid……

  • Shard

    Strangely enough, I woke up this morning feeling more annoyed then I felt last night. How often have we heard that number of passes, quality of play, amount of possession doesn’t matter? We’ve dominated against a side like Chelsea even, only for them to beat us with what is termed an efficient performance.. I thought we went in to stifle them as best as we could, aware in the knowledge that we didn’t need to score first, and that we would have opportunities towards the end. I truly believed at 1-1 that if we keep it tight for 10 mins, then we will not just win the tie, but the game. You could see gaps appearing on the field. I agree with Rhys about it being comparable to the 2005 Fa Cup final, but I do not think we would have stayed as defensive till the end yesterday. We would have opened up. The ‘best’ team doesn’t always win, and yesterday, best team or not, I felt we would go through.

    So RVP picked up a stupid first booking, which amazingly some Arsenal fans say could have been a red. What nonsense. Dani Alves is a diving cheat. Simple as. What about Abidal holding Van Persie’s throat? Does nobody think that him getting away unpunished was why Robin acted the way he did? The pundits in the studio labelled it childish. I bet the same would call it standing up for yourself if it were Rooney. I didn’t mind that from RVP. We needed something to get fired up with anyway. But what was annoying was what Cesc did. 2 mins from halftime, with the entire team fighting and scrapping to keep them out, there was absolutely no call for him to try that backheel there. Even if it came off, what would have happened? Would an attack appear? Stupid.

  • Shard

    @Andrei

    We let Eduardo go because England would never allow him to mentally recover from his injury. The amount of kicking that takes place in the English league would not help him one bit. It’s just sad that happened. We had a great player on our books. I was feeling sad just recently in the Liverpool- ManU match. when Hernandez scored right at the end, the commentator mentioned hernandez’s positioning and how he wins headers despite being quite short. I just remembered Eduardo instantly. He used to win headers from corners. It’s just so frustrating. But at least he’s having a good career at Shaktar.

    Now if only we can win the league. The refs better not cheat us out of another title. They did it in 2008. I don’t think I can take another such ‘defeat’. In some ways they may have already done so with the Newcastle, Wigan and Sunderland draws, and the innumerable ManU letoffs. But we’re still in with a shout. Let’s just go out and win it.

  • Bexxy

    Yes Cesc and RVP let themselves and the club down, but these can still be heroes in a fantastic season. Get behind the lads

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Shard

    I fielt the same in the pub last night about what Cesc did.

    I actually wrote something to another Arsenal site yesterday morning, which was a private email, subsequently posted, where I jokingly suggested Arshavin ‘shouldn’t try any fancy flicks near his own box as Barca are better than Stoke!’ Hmm…..

    I was also asked by a Scot who supported SAF the morning after the 2006 ECL final what I thought about Henry – should he be sold or stay? I said then: ‘well, he can’t say any longer that this team aren’t good enough to win the ECL. Because if he’d scored his chances last night, Arsenal were away and clear long before Barca came back…’ Miraculously, he stayed on. Perhaps wrongly in retrospect, who knows……

    Guardiola was hinting pretty clearly last night that he thought decisions were rigged in Arsenal’s favour at the Emirates so they ‘made sure we did something about that’.

    If football’s reduced to bunging officials to rig key decisions, I’m not sure I want to spend huge amounts on it……

    And I’d suggest pretty strongly to football’s governing authorities that no football club can sell season tickets prior to a transfer window closing, which would imply it finishing June 30th each year, with July the month to renew. Clubs would hate it, but it would rid fans of the requirement to pay up before they know what they’re actually going to get…….

  • Shard

    Rhys

    What was Guardiola’s statement? Any chance of a link to it? Pep has gone down in my estimation in the way he’s spoken both before and after the match.

    Regarding the Henry and the parallel with Cesc, I’ve been saying the same thing anyway. No one, least of all Cesc can say anything about Arsenal not being good enough and thus letting him leave. What makes Cesc any better than the rest of the team when it comes to winning? I’m not negating his contributions, nor am I angry with him in general. I love Cesc and hope he stays. But I find that argument flawed.

  • Shard

    I just saw Guardiola talking about reviewing the first leg. Your right Rhys. The way he’s saying it isn’t nice at all. I’ve been a fan of Pep Guardiola and the way he’s conducted himself in the past, but it’s hard to accept his comments and their manner both before and after this game.

  • bollock-chops

    I find it harder and harder to watch football atm. Its a fucking joke. All the pricks in the media are loving this. They cant get enough of barca, no matter how much diving and cheating they do. .If we make a hint of a dive against an english team you never hear the end of it, but I saw card waving , diving , pressurising the ref and all the rest constantly last night. Yes Arsenal seem to freeze against them,Yes we know they play amazing ‘pretty’ football, the style we have been trying to play for the last 6 yrs against all odds and cynisism in the prem.I honestly dont believe the uk will ever produce a team that can pass the ball like that. Each player would need to wear 6 pairs of titanium shin pads or have a squad of 50 players to cope with the barbaric onslaught that is the game in this country. If only peter walton was the ref last night.

  • walter

    For those waiting for my ref review: disaster strikes as my email goes down, the video can not yet be downloaded from arsenaltv.

  • Shard

    @ Walter

    I think Robin has already made a ref review that is spot on 🙂

  • Gooner80

    in the cold light of day I think Arsenal can take many positives from this performance and the only reason I can see why we havent won any trophies in 6 years

    1) Many Key injuries
    2) Silly mistakes

    if we can lessen these two factors we would be right up there.

    We need to go and terrorise our league as things stand RIGHT NOW I cant see why we cant win ALL of our remaining games

  • Shard

    @ bollock chops

    Oh absolutely. If Barca were in the Premier league, they wouldn’t come close to winning it. Their lack of pace would be exposed and all their falling over would not be rewarded. They would not be given enough protection to give them the confidence to show their skills. It’s those reasons that I believe drawing a comparision between Arsenal and Barcelona is wrong. All the financial issues aside, Arsenal have to be moulded to a different league, and thus have to compromise on the ‘pure’ part of football.

    Not to say that Barcelona are pure in any way. They dive, and feign injuries all the time. In every match. Spain did it at the World Cup too, and in my opinion were not worthy champions, though it was a very poor World Cup in general.

  • walter

    Cesc has taken the blame on him for the first goal. Credit to him for doing this. We were only 2 minutes away from going in at 0-0. And I have to see the game again but I really thought that Barcelona didn’t have much chances in the first half. We defended very well in that first half in fact.

  • Shard

    @Gooner80

    We ARE right up there.. You’re right though. We can win all our games. Even with the injuries. I do worry about the motivation of some of the squad players, but if everyone is pulling their weight then I think we are better than anyone in the league.

  • Shard

    Barcelona ‘created’ only one chance 11 vs 11.. That was just after we scored. Maybe, the Messi shot in the first half straight at the keeper can be counted too.

  • bollock-chops

    Shard,
    I dont really want to watch the world cup ever again to be honest. Each time it becomes more and more of a showcase for cheating. M

  • Gooner80

    I love cesc but remember how hard he was on Deni against leeds? I think his mistake was 10s worse

    all in all I cant say we were unlucky over the two legs, but IMO we gifted them at least two of their goals.Xavi and inesta boss that midfield I think cesc, jack and rambo could be similar we could destroy teams, and Barcas pressing we can learn a lot from them. Progress is being made and I think we are a head of Barca when they were at our stage of development, if we can keep our midfield together for 6 years I am fearful for other teams

  • mehoot

    Barcelona were by far the better side on light years in front of us in terms of keeping possession and getting possession back.

    The better side went through, no doubt about that.

    However, the ridiculous sending off of Van Persie handed Barcelona the game. For Graeme Souness to say it would have made no difference was equally ridiculous.

    For all Barcelona’s wonderful football, while Arsenal had 11 men they didn’t create an awful lot of chances. At the end of the day, they only went through by the one goal. Barca showed at the Emirates their levels drop in the last quarter of the game.

    All it would have taken is one break away goal and Arsenal were through. So don’t tell me RVP being sent of didn’t make any difference

    Good luck to Barcelona in the rest of the competition but it’s such shame it wasn’t 11 v 11 for longer.

  • bollock-chops

    Shard,
    I dont really rush to watch the world cup anymore to be honest. Each time it becomes more and more of a showcase for cheating. Most of the football played isn’t great either.
    Overall , apart from arsenal, im not too fussed about what the game stands for anymore like I used to be. Financial doping, propaganda, cheats prospering, constant questionable refereeing, incompetent & corrupt governance, refusal to clean up the game or introduce technology ( a fucking television screen invented in the 20’s is hardly ‘modern technology’). Yet we still wtch it for the odd moments of magic. Septic bladder cant fucking loose

  • hainalt

    I’m writing this because I’m anticipating the fall out and I’m worried atleast with most fans of most clubs it’ll be a s**t one for Arsenal. I just want to offer a clear and calm response because I’m certain others will choose not to.

    1) Barcelona were phenomenal. Their passing, pressing and movement as always was stunning. But they are not purists and perfectionists. Just very good. They dive, manipulate the referee and play act as cynically and as much as any other team. Abidal’s choke attempt on RVP was testament enough I feel that it’s about time we stopped treating them like they’re all as nice and decent as Messi.

    2) The referee’s decisions were often appalling but of course the RVP sending off was the worst of his decisions. This doesn’t mean he was anti- arsenal. It doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy. Yes he refereed the last CL final Barcelona won and yes he ignored many Barcelona fouls and incidents. But it doesn’t mean he favoured them or hated us or that anyone’s out to get us. I wish it did. Then we could say “Oh yeah we lost because they cheated.” No we didn’t. We lost because we were unlucky.

    3) We were unlucky against Sunderland, we were unlucky against Brum (It was unlucky that the one mistake Wojciech has made in ages cost us so much) and we were unlucky against Barcelona. It sucks and there’s nothing you can do to make it feel better. Blaming the referee doesn’t make it any better.

    4) The loss of Van Persie is no excuse. It’s the reason we lost. The players were patient and protective, just like we were in the first leg when everyone creamed themselves. Our tactics were spot on and adapted to Barca’s home threat. Anyone suggesting the loss of a player early in the second half does not change a game entirely is a god damn hypocrite. The punishment was made so it makes the team suffer.

    I just hope this means our focus on two trophies is greater and we can make things happen this year. I’m tired of feeling unlucky. But I’m even more tired of people saying this team isn’t good enough.

    After last night I was proud as hell to be a Gunner. But disappointed at how often bad luck has ruined things for us.

  • anthony

    @Hainal – reasonalble post but lets not forget it was carelessness that landed us with the Barce tie in the first place, we should be topping our group and meeting a raggle taggle roma outfit, now were out at the same stage to the same team basically in the same manner.
    I understand you saying were improving and getting there but its really hard to guage things, were second to a Utd team doing everything in its power to lose the League and you have players like Nasri and Diaby saying theyd love to play for Barcelona when the fans are being told to be patient and give these guys time to mature? What so we suffer till they learn their trade and force moves or refuse contracts to sign for other teams and the process restarts again with more youngsters?
    All Arsenal fans will be deflated by tonights performance, we lacked belief and were toothless, saying otherwise is wrong, Barce were never fearful, they knew they could score and had it not been for Almunia and their own over elaboration it could have been a severe beating, they scored our goal,we didnt have a shot on target or off really, they had no recognised CBs and we couldnt hurt them, for 75mins in our own pitch they destroyed us aswel and we were, if were honest, undeserved winners of that tie. This is the benchmark, a mixture of youth development AND heavy investment in quality, and they are reaping the benefits. You could not say any Arsenal player there tonight would make that Barce team….our best attackers do not have the desire or work ethic of Pedro, Villa and Messi to win the ball back for their side and that is a fundamental which comes before any other attribute Guirdiola is interested in. Our full backs cannot cross the ball or hold a defensive line.
    Its ok to look ahead and enjoy the rest of the season but I really dont kow how much weve learned from last season or how much we have improved. If there was one very good team in the PL it would be won by now….I mean we could still win it with a woeful home record, if Utd beat us out of the Fa cup it will really hurt and talk of silverware will have to be put on hold again.
    But I must confess with Wilsheres and Fabregas’s in this team its not hard to be able to enjoy them for what they are, great players,silverware would be a bonus at this stage.

  • mehoot

    I thought we defended superbly last night i didnt think this team could defend like that. Kos and Djourou were superb but overall we defended better as a team!!! Clichy was awful as was Rosicky and Cesc. Cesc fucked up for the first goal but we play all this flicky, tippy, tappy shit and many on here wank themselves stupid when it works, so you cant start knocking Cesc now it hasnt. Yet again Bendtner let us all down when he fucked up his ‘Micky Thomas’ moment a few mins from the end of the game we need better Arsene…..

    The sending off was abysmal but we didnt have a shot on target all night and the ref cant be blamed for that!!! i think its a shame because it has given Arsene an excuse not to face up to the facts we were soundly beaten but at least its given the Wenger disciples some shreds to hang onto Rolling Eyes What pissed me off as much as the refs decision was to see Wenger pat Bendtner on the back as he walked off the pitch at the end, Barry big bollocks cost us the match as much as the ref!!!! In the (not so) old days these were the types of games that we gloryed in backs to the wall, under-dog type games where we needed a goal and invariably got it WHL ’71, Anfield ’89, Copenhagen ’94 step forward 21st century Arsenal with Captain Wenger and Corporal Bendtner – “it was the ref” awnker

    Also lets not forget that Wenger started playing our 2nd string team in the group stage before we had qualified therefore fucking up 1st place and getting Barca in the knockout stage banghead

    Now to all the people who didnt care if sp*rs got 4th place last season as ‘they will go out early and it will be funny’ enjoy your evening as they progress further in the competition than Mr. Knows babies

  • Gooner80

    The media is drooling over Messi But even though I hate the guy I think ronaldo is a better player he has much more about his game

  • hainalt

    Wilshere is capable of single-handedly carrying a team; but no man on this earth is capable of carrying Eboue, Diaby, Denilson, Rosicky and the rest – not even Thierry Henry.

  • Shard

    @hainalt

    Except a referee.. One referee could carry all of them and many more.

    I’m not saying the referee was corrupt last night, but frankly your post is ridiculous.

  • Gooner80

    would losing to man U in the cup be a bad thing?????

  • Shard

    @gooner80

    At this point, I think it would.

  • FinnGooner

    I would really like to know how badly you can strangle opposite player before you get booked? as in case other one is able to walk and talk after it’s nothing.

    I had this dream last night after I finally were able to sleep. Arsenal was playing against Barca (right again) and once again Barca player put his hand on RvP’s throath. got away from it so he did it again bit later but this time RvP wasn’t able to breath and went unconscious so ref gave red card for RvP because he stopped breathing during match. Barca player got off with a warning. during 2nd halftime it was Nasri’s turn to get red for “almost dying during match” and this time ref told Barca player “I’m really sorry but I did warn you once so I have give you yellow”…

  • Gooner80

    well the way they played against liverpool I dont think there is much to fear, they have an important champions league game coming up against Marseilles and their games are coming thick and fast now

  • RedGooner

    Well, . Bussaca has refereed Spanish teams 29 times in his career, they have never lost under his stewardship surprised anyone ? AND I said 2 weeks ago if they wanted us out of the FA Cup …Howard Web would get the job on the day.

    So you can all go out and put lots of cash on ManUtd on saturday and when Webb points to the spot nod and say well thats the drinks paid for.

  • Gooner80

    @ red gooner

    I just cant bring myself to bet against arsenal, I might bet on their being a penalty though

  • Bexxy

    @ Gooner80

    Make no mistake, losing on Saturday could be disastrous. It wouldn’t have been, had we won the League Cup.

  • RedGooner

    Bexx loosing saturday might be the best thing ever 11 games to go no midweek matches while manutd tire in europe.

    All they gotta do is go win the league.

  • goonergerry

    Given the circumstances-the amazing opposition- yes a great side offensively-(and without Messi – a very good side)- full on-the intimidating nationalistic crowd who whistled every time we had the ball-the unbelievable biased referee-who was utterly blind to Barcelona kicking and going through our players to win back possession :
    This was the best defensive display I have seen from a Wenger side- and for me it was real progress.
    It was offensively where we didn’t carry enough threat.Though it has to be said- our real threat would have come towards the end of the game if RVP had stayed on and we were perfectly capable of scoring against that defence. The referee made sure that would never happen.

    Barcelona FC ARE arrogant- extremely arrogant- and I dont like the spirit they play the game in. They are divers and they are kickers. The Messi penalty was not a penalty- he went over before Diaby made any contact.

    For all their possession Barcelona won this by one goal- and they may not have done that if a fair referee had charge of the game.
    I

  • terry

    Hahahaha are these the same goons who only 3 weeks back were challenging for the quad? What a bunch of jokers led by a clown of a manager. Don’t worry fools you will be out of all the competitons before you can blink – United will blitz you on saturday and we will show you how to play in all the competitions instead of hoping to be knocked – cant believe what im reading – A class idiots got what they deserved an absolute spanking – RVP deserved the red card – arrogant prick that he is and now you will see the mighty utd come good where your babies can go cry with your manager and keep talking about playin tippy tappy football – at the expense of no trophies once again. The Monkey is getting LOUDER. HAHA

  • terry

    the writing was on the wall when we all saw Cesc hugging and kissing the Barcelona players in the tunnel before the match…..as for the match well that was painful watching the Woolwich Nomads being humiliated like no other team in the History of the game…..We had a purring Rolls Royce up against a spluttering Reliant Robin….the goons were shown up for what they really are fakes with big mouths……….Parking the Woolwich bus..in Wenger I trust……..ha ha ha. I sincerely hope that you guys keep this manager for years to come – keeps us well entertained. At least liverpool sacked Rafa but your baord are happy to settle for Champs lge qualification and some meny in the back pockets – Brilliant

  • anthony

    @Terry please f off. Overall a Well done to barca, they outclassed us in all area’s of the pitch and kept us out the game, we did have our chances though. That game was full of ifs and buts, in one hand, if rvp hadn’t been sent off it would have been a different game, if bender had a better first touch and taken his chance near the end of the game we were through to the quarters, if Szchezny was on he may have smothered messi’s initial goal with his normal brave star jump, may have taken messi out too, but on the other hand Koscielny was lucky not to concede a penalty and get red for a number of last ditch challenges in the box that were questionable, they did hit the post and had a number of opportunities, bottom line is they were one goal better at home than we were! Messi’s first goal, his control was out of this world and i was pretty stunned, i’ll have nightmares about this game for a long time.. Jack was fantastic and Manuel apart from throwing the ball into kosc’s head made some pretty great saves, kosc and djourou did as well as we could ask for.. Biggest disappointment on the night for me was fabregas, now there’s a talking point im sure some kids will now comment on but he was nowhere.. except for when his back heel in front of our goal ended up in the net a few seconds later..

  • Shard

    @RedGooner

    So is Howard Webb the referee for the FA Cup tie?

  • pires

    How can any one of us utter the sentence ‘We deserve To Win’ after such a terrible display? We played like chickens. They were far better in terms of class. For me, there is more to football then just winning. I simply don’t understand any individual who enjoys watching their 11 men behind the ball, sneaking an ‘own goal’ victory and walking tall, speaking highly about the team they support. Winning is one thing, but deserving to win is a total different thing altogether.

    We didn’t deserve to win, they were far better then us all round. We were merely lucky to sneak a victory on our turf (pls bare in mind that we only played good football in the last 20 minutes of that game) Arsenal needs a new manager. AW is not cut out any longer. Thats the sad truth.

  • Shard

    @Pires

    So there is more to football than winning, and that’s NOT putting the men behind the ball, or sneaking a goal, and yet, Wenger should go?? Wow, Your logic is on par with your intelligence..

    Also, please stop abusing the name of an Arsenal legend by using it as your monicker.

  • goonergerry

    Terry- 3 words- Wolves, Chelsea and Liverpool- you were well beaten by all 3- easily.
    What a mis-used word ‘outclassed” is. Does possession = goals, or chances= superiority- no it doesn’t. What is morally wrong with a defensive strategy? When Ali won the rumble in the jungle- did anyone complain that he was somehow inferior for beating his opponent by adopting a defensive strategy for2/3rds of the the tie? No, they revered the effectiveness of his strategy- and its a similar strategy that Wenger used- except it was ruined by an unfair sending off of a key player.

  • terry

    @goonergerry – ummm do you really want me to start giving you the count of the fumbles you have had? Please just stop right there. Newcastle, Spurs, WBA, ummm the list goes on. Antd it will continue to get bigger now that Lemonia is bak in goal. Unfair sending of or not Inter Milan did it and you couldnt end of. Stop making excuses like your manager.

  • Shard

    Sigh…What about Terry makes anyone feel he’s anything but a s**t stirring troll? He’s not here to debate, his sole purpose is to fulfill his calling – stir some s**t.

  • Dale

    @Shard

    Terry just comes across to me as most Utd fans do. They’ll revel in the bad results of their rivals and actually be first to make a big point of it. They throw a right paddy tho if there is any slight mention that utd are not all what they are cracked up to be.

  • Shard

    Dale

    Still a troll though, isn’t he?

  • hainalt

    I dont think he is stirring to be honest – he’s only doing what rival fans do to each other and in fact he does have a point because for all the promise we have shown we could realistically end up with nothing AGAIN!!!

  • Shard

    I see, so I was wrong about Terry. He’s just doing what fans of other teams would do.. And what of us?? Are WE doing what fans of Arsenal should do?

  • RedGooner

    Shard I read it on some other web site Webb was the Ref dont know anymore than that. I assume they are correct.

  • gooner80

    So what if end up with nothing?? the carling cup would not have been sufficient, champions league was always going to be tough and is the luck of the draw, there is enough improvement being made to make me optimistic. Can anyone say we are a team going back wards like chelsea and Man U??

    No they can not.

    Terry you are a special individual to be on this blog so regular, I cant even go into your mindset to understand why anyone would do this?? I can only feel sorry for you. if you was going to comment on this blog you should try and offer something that a neutral could offer and something useful, you are embarrassing yourself with your comments and gloating. I dont think anyone would deny you if you come up with something original and insightful

  • Shard

    As I see it, we can all sit here and debate the merits or demerits of our team. we all have an opinion and should be able to voice it. Supporters of other clubs are welcome to join in too. But when someone, especially an outsider, mouths off for no other reason than to abuse or disrespect our club,and to revel in our failures, we should ALL be fighting him off. I bet some people on here were upholding Patrice Evra as some beacon of truth rather than calling him the c**t that he undoubtedly is when he voiced those ridiculous comments about OUR club. Support your team when it counts, or you do not have the right to call it yours anymore. Terry is a troll, but at least he’s not an imposter.

  • RedGooner

    Actualy its Chris Foy Shard my mistake JUST as bad in my opinion.

  • Shard

    @RedGooner

    Lol.. Who wouldn’t be? FA Cup so far has been decently refereed. Let’s see if that changes now that its Manchester United.

  • Macca

    Barca Bankrupt? Arsenal’s accounts aren’t looking too healthy at the moment, either!

    I think this result just could help Arsenal to make a stronger attempt at winning the league. They will go about their remaining league business with more determination and will to win, of that I am sure. It will not hide the fact, however, that should this happen, Arsenal’s present team will probably be the weakest ever to win the league. The Premier League is much of a muchness at the moment with not too much to separate the top half from the bottom half. Barcelona proved last night that Arsenal are a good team – no doubt – but world class, or even one of the best in Europe? No. Not in a million years. Arsenal fans should not get carried away with the hype-machine that is the Londoncentric/North West media.

    Only truly special clubs become Champions of Europe. Arsenal aren’t there yet: a certain pedigree is clearly missing.

  • poodle

    well Barca cannot in 2011 beat arsenal with 11 men. They needed to have RvP sent off. FACT!
    If i was barca fan id be embarrased that my team cannot win without the help of the referee.

  • terry

    Mte you didnt hsve a single shot on target with 11 men stop talking nonsense

  • des

    Look Guys we were Murdered last night even before the Vp sending off, both Fab and Vp shudnt of played, clearly not even 50% fit. Tomas Ro was terrible and ya know what really annoys me, when he lost the ball last night he didnt even bother tackling back, not good enough. Every Barcelona player battled for the ball when they lost it, even the gr8 players have to work and work hard to be the best. The only time we pressured Barca is in the last few mins when wilshere won the ball for Bendtner to make a mess of it. Hats off to Wilshere and our back line,they tried there best and to almunia who kept the score down with some gr8 saves, but really we are light years away from beating Barcelona and dont anybody mention the first leg, it was always only half time. Just a last word to Fabregas, when you back healed the ball to barca for the first goal, we all know that was shocking but when you turned around and saw you did it why didnt you take the player down and take a booking for the team, instead you made a joke of an attempt of a tackle, let me tell you something Patrick Vieria would of took a booking…

  • hainalt

    I’ve seen one or two posts in various threads about resting players on Saturday and the classic old “concentrate on the league”. No way. Having lost the CC final, and gone out of CL, an FA cup exit to our title rivals is the last thing we need – the effect could be catastrophic, as we have seen before.

    The strongest possible 11 must play on Saturday, subject to fitness – you can’t pick and choose your tournaments, we need momentum and a winning mentality, and the lift we would get from putting the Mancs out of the cup.

  • gooner80

    in the league we are top of the form table we have been DODGY in cup competitions all season, Our Home form is key, we have been really poor at home this season.

    Knocking UTD out of the cup at OT is a big ask, we havent won up there in a long time (regardless of Bias) our ultimate demise this season has been chasing too many competitions, AW cant win because when he concentrates on a few he is criticized, but the amount of games played has caused some of the injuries, it has caused fixture congestion. I believe it is better to concentrate on doing one thing well than doing several things average, I have looked at our squad and with a few key players missing we struggle.

    SURELY winning or even challenging for the league is our best option, cups are unpredictable and winning the league is the measure of a team. I think our chances of winning the league have only increased with being knocked out of champions league, some of our players act very funny in prem games when a champions league comes about, even Aw summarized as much in the sunderland game, all cups are just distractions, it is much harder to win the league than the cups even champions league

  • Terry is a wanker and his club is broke

    Terry sounds a bit hysterical eh?
    perspiration gleaming on his forehead as he rants at his mirror about Utd being champions again ….

    Not gonna happen though is it?
    Embarrassed EMBARRASSED! but an average Liverpool side that aren’t even a CL team.
    Club is broke and is carrying as much debt as an Irish bank.
    Rooney to cross over to city in the summer perhaps so the Glazers can survive another year with their fangs in the Old Skippord jugular sucking the life and any chance of future glory from a dying club.

    I LOVE the glazers
    When they finally bankrupt that bunch of orc-speaking plastics I hope that they get a group OBE for services to football.
    Of course Giggs will be resigning at 41 by then and the championship wont be on tv as often but….

  • walter

    Another thing that is forgotten is that the injury from Szczesny meant that we couldn’t make another substitution towards the end of the game. Another handicap we had to live with.

  • Yommex

    The way most people have reacted to the Barca’s match has been amazing. Immediately the draw was anounced, most pundits already gave the match to Barca, not out of place though, as they are undoubtedly the best team around now. So, Arsenal losing to them should really be no news except for the manner that defeat came by. Everybody expected a whitewash and I think Arsenal crucificion now is as a result of their getting SO CLOSE to knocking this Barca side out. Personally, I raise my hat to Wenger for adopting a strategy that suits the moment as it is difficult to outplay Barca at their own game. It is worthy of note that the last trophy won by Arsenal, the FA Cup of 2005, was through the same tactics against Manchester United. Nobody remembers the strategy but everybody does the winner.
    IMO, this Arsenal team has made a huge progress compared to last year when they were taken to the cleaners and with age on their side, they can only get better. I also think their performance in all competitions this year has started to take their toll. Rather than mull over this loss extensively, it should be taken along stride with the lesson learnt. There is still so much to accomplish this season and all is not yet lost. Rather than bein disappointed by this result, I’m encouraged by the maturity and progress of the team. Let’s see how other teams will fare against this Barca side.