Arsenal vs Barcelona Match Report

“I believe that when you do something, whether it be writing, dancing or playing football, if you do it at the best level it becomes art. Because what is art? It is something that is always good to watch”.
Speaking yesterday Arsene Wenger predicted that tonight’s game would be art, not football. Agree or not tonight’s game was certainly a masterpiece, although for much of the game it looked like Picasso taking on Neil Buchanan. Arsenal where outclassed for the first 70 minutes, brushed aside by Barcelona’s colourful play. Struggling for inspiration their football was more paint-by-numbers than creative genius.
Wenger admitted his players looked nervous early on, they certainly seemed mesmerised by their opposition who where stroking the ball around with their trademark speed and flair. Any gameplan Wenger had was disrupted by the first half injuries to Arshavin and Gallas although there could be no excuses for Barca’s brilliance. It was perhaps only through the impressive Almunia that they where level at half time.
The stalemate did not last long, nor did Almunia’s faultless performance. Seconds after being praised by his predecessor Jens Lehmann, Arsenal’s keeper was caught out of position, Ibrahimovic dutifully answering his critics to put Barcelona ahead 24 seconds into the second half. The Swede had not scored in 11 games against English opposition yet within 15 minutes of the second half he had 2. Of all the ways to concede against the Catalans Arsenal where undone by a long ball for the second time. Wenger was visibly fuming on the touchline and let his players know it.
The Gunners began to improve and showed flashes of their own ability yet it was the introduction of Theo Walcott that turned the game. In front of the England manager he turned on his blistering pace to get in behind the defense and give Arsenal a lifeline. Walcott continued to cause problems and Arsenal began to take hold of the game. They were starting to look like the team we are used to seeing in the Premier League and got their reward when Puyol brought down Fabregas in the box with 5 minutes remaining. Puyol was given a straight red and Fabregas converted the penalty for 2-2. Arsenal had managed to rescue a result they probably didn’t deserve, this however came at a cost as Fabregas joined the injury list.
With Puyol and Pique suspended Arsenal will feel they have every chance at the Nou Camp although they will now know just how difficult their task is. If they are to get a result Theo Walcott will need to reproduce the kind of display he showed tonight. His pace was clearly a problem for Maxwell, who will not be relishing a second meeting. Arsenal will however be below strength themselves and I would expect Messi to have a far bigger impact in familiar surroundings. The first half of the Diptych is complete, let’s hope the second is as beautiful.


About haighsimpson

25 year old journalism student at leeds metropolitan university View all posts by haighsimpson

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