Friday, 18 February 2011

Arsenal vs Barcelona – a review

What a spectacle we saw on Wednesday night at the Emirates in possibly the best game of the season thus far. The level of football displayed by both sides was something to behold and in all honesty it was simply exceptional. I am not the biggest fan of Arsenal’s but to deny them praise for the way they played against Barcelona would be criminal.

The opening few minutes were breathtaking as the ball travelled from one end of the pitch to the other at tremendous speed and under impeccable control. The way the Catalan’s pass and move around the ball is staggering at points and one wonders how any team can deal with it. However, in this game they ran into a side capable of producing a similar style of football and were not afraid to produce it at the highest level.

It was hard to believe that when Villa ran onto Messi’s through ball to finish calmly that 26 minutes had elapsed before the deadlock was broken. There had been significant chances at either end with Messi and Van Persie guilty of squandering good openings. The game was scintillating and at half time I for one still thought both sides were capable of more.

The second half will forever live long in the memory of Arsenal fans who saw their side continue to compete and begin to get have a stronger influence on proceedings. The away side made changes with half an hour to go which placed less emphasis on attack and the home side took advantage. Firstly Van Persie (who had been very wasteful previously) finished from an acute angle to level the game and then after a fabulous move started by Wilshire equalised through the much maligned Arshavin.

It was a thrilling game to watch and sets the tie up perfectly for the 2nd leg in the Camp Nou in 2 weeks time. Some of the individual performances were outstanding; Busquets, Koscielny, Messi, Xavi – who had a 93% pass completion rate and the man of the match Wilshire. The young English midfielder surpassed all expectations in this game and really announced himself to the world with an incredible display.

The tie is evenly balanced although Arsenal hold the lead at the half way stage. It will be another extraordinary game in 2 weeks time and it will be fascinating to see how both sides approach it. I still think Barcelona remain favourites but the gap has certainly closed since last season.

1 comment:

  1. Fair Assessment Hunter (Shocking!!)

    Men of the match Wilshire/Koscielny
    Mugs of the match Alves/Eboue

    Thought Wenger got his tactics ok in the first half but excelled in the second as the Arse pressed much higher up the pitch at the start of the second half and Wengers response to each of Peps subs was brave and as it turns out inspired. Being a gooner at the game it's quite hard to think about the match objectively but neither team deserved to lose it really(could have been 3-3) but we have the edge we need now to at least have a shot of getting through over there (a draw def wouldn't have been enough)

    Inglorious Bastos