Arsenal 2 – 1 Barcelona…

Morning All…

You read it right, Arsenal 2 – 1 Barcelona. And what a game…! For the neutral, it was a great game between two teams who play football the right way. For us, it was a nervous game, a heart in the mouth game and what a game!

The whole area was buzzing pre-match and the usual lot were everywhere, a massive turnout in the Tollington and a pint or two later a walk down to the stadium. All fans in good spirit and when I went to my seat, I was greeted by a nice red flag and another 55,000 flags were on the seats of all… As the players came out, the noise was resounding, and the flags were amazing.

Beautiful, wasn’t it?

Ahead of the game, there was a massive boost for all, some say it was a risk, but Samir Nasri was named in the starting XI. No-one thought he’d be fit, let alone start.

The starting line up was:

Szcznesy

Eboue – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy

Wilshere – Song

Walcott – Cesc – Nasri

Van Persie

With a bench of Almunia, Gibbs, Squillaci, Denilson, Arshavin, Bendtner and Rosicky

For the first time in a while, against a big team, there was an air of confidence around the fans and the players – and we started the game with a swagger. And we created chances with the best one dropping to Van Persie who really should have hit the target. But it wasn’t too long until Barcelona got in it and started to control the game from midfield. With Villa and Messi dropping deep, their midfield was overloading our midfield and their left and right backs found a lot of width and we started to get exposed – Clichy and Eboue often allowing Alves and Maxwell in – and when Barcelona eventually went 1-0, it came down the left when Clichy played Villa onside and a Messi pass put the Spanish striker through.

The first half ended 1-0 to the visitors, and although we didn’t play that badly – the authority of Barcelona did shine through – their game seemed better than ours – positionally, and distributively. We seemed to allow them to pass and then close them down when they had the ball – for us, they did the opposite – they closed down the options and then closed down the player with the ball. It was tough.

The second half was different – we closed them down better, upped our work rate and also closed down their options, which allowed us to recover the ball better – and for me the stand out player of the second half was Jack Wilshere, who went further up the field and seemed to have an extra pair of eyes on him… and his vision and creativity made us tick… and suddenly, a game which looked out of our reach, looked very much like a game where would could take something from…

Arshavin and Bendtner came on for Walcott and Song (the latter walking on a yellow card tightrope, having been booked early on) and they changed the game. The equaliser came via good work from Arshavin who passed the ball back to Clichy who them lofted the ball into Van Persie’s path – who despite wide and at an acute angle, lashed it past the keeper – 1-1……..

And then five minutes later, under serious pressure from Messi, a great interception from Koscielny, a good spot from Bendtner to maintain possession, a first time pass from Wilshere to Cesc, who sprayed the ball out wide to Nasri, who slowed it down and cut it back……… Arshavin slots it home!!!

2-1 to the Arsenal and that’s how it finished – it was electric. What a night… it’s only half the job done, but done well…

Arsene spoke about the game and said:

I am highly delighted because it was a special football match. The game promised a lot and absolutely fulfilled the promises between two exceptional football teams who always try to play. We were not only strong on the physical side but on the mental side, we kept resilient. We took advantage of one special piece of skill from Van Persie and the goal for the second was after some good build-up play. It was a special night. When we suffered, the fans were still very positive.

And he also highlighted the job to do over there:

Tonight’s result gives us a chance to go to Barcelona with belief. We know it will be a very difficult game but we will prepare well. We will be highly focused and we go to win our game. It is a special lift for my team. Our players have shown exceptional strength tonight and togetherness. This will enforce that.

Enjoy the result boys and girls… it certainly was a great European night at the Emirates.

  • Fo

    Wow!! What a result, what a game – what a performance – to come back from 1-0 down too – tactically spot on and I think we’re getting better and better….

    Come on you Arsenal!!

  • Fo

    PS Koscielney was amazing!!

  • devday

    @Fo

    Yes, Koscielny was my man of the match – he is a beast and he was everywhere – he was strong in the tackle, wasn’t rash, marshalled the defence well and covered Clichy very well too.

  • Vazy

    still have no voice… went absolutely mental

    brilliant performance from all the lads,
    congrats to them all!

  • Shawn

    Yes, Koscielny was amazing! but Jack Wilshere was insane he lit up the stadium every time he touched the ball!!! and Szcznesy was also brilliant, i love the overconfident look he has on his face, think it intimidated messi :D

  • Khai

    awesome result.

    kosc + wilshere were amazing.

    wilshere taking on 2 barca players and still keeping the ball. he’s only 18!

    but does it worry anyone. regarding the fighting spirit before we scored the goal.

    except for cesc and wilshere notably, some of the other players looked as though they were really down and lost the self-belief.

    they needed a goal to get them back on track, and thankfully we got it through RVP(which was an awesome piece of accuracy from that angle.)

    if only everyone can show that hunger and fight like wilshere did. i tihnk that’s really lacking from some of the players.

    and i think eboue should really stop dropping so easily.

    what do you guys think?

  • yemi

    @ Shawn:

    Jack and KOS were the best players on the night for arsenal. Great game and great result. I also think someone talked to ebuoue and he did well (better than recent times) in the RB role. Even though he did give the maxwell a few opportunities to pass by, same goes for clichy too.
    We also had some element of luck (God) on our side cos it coulda been more than one goal in the first half. We could also have been 2 up in the first few minutes of the first half too !!!

    I think we will have a better game at the nou camp because this win will be a massive boost of morale and self confidence to the players…

    Will Sagna be available for the return leg ?

  • Goonerman

    When on several occasions you watch jack get the ball and literall spin and glide past inorsta xavi and Busquets u know you have one seriously special player on your hands! I seriously need someone to make a montage of jacks best bits in that game because I could watch him all day long!!

  • Sam

    Yes, good morning. All were great!

  • nkdon

    Isn’t it fantastic when the heart wins out? Victoria concordia crescit.
    I guess my overall takeaway point would be that tonight was a vision of what we can be. Maybe we’re not there yet, and it won’t always be this good, of course. But all the problems Arsenal have had faded away last night, and for one perfect evening, everything fell into place, and Arsenal FC were the club we want it to be and what it is at our very best. Great atmosphere at the ground? Usually not, but it was tonight (see video below). Shaky goalkeeper? We’ve had that in the past, but Wojo is excellent and getting better, and had a good night. Blowing a late lead? It’s our bugaboo, but yesterday we’re the ones who came from behind and took the match. Mental weakness? Nope — we were absolutely fearless. I think we saw a glimpse of all of Wenger’s promises coming to fruition. Wenger steered us through a very tough financial period when we moved into the Emirates, and while we haven’t won any trophies there yet, we haven’t dropped out of the top 4, and have gone from one of England’s bigger sides to one of the biggest sides in all of Europe. You’ve heard me say it before, and I will say it again — Wenger has never gotten, and probably will never get, enough credit for what he’s done the last 6 years. That some fans actually have called for his job boggles my mind.

  • nkdon

    Very interesting to see the papers in Spain today – there is a lot of talk about Barca being over the hill, the manager losing it, poor substitution and the like.

    Reads like the way the English papers talk about Arsenal at every opportunity. Absolutely no eulogising about Barca – they thought it a poor show.

  • Tony Boy

    What a night – best yet at the Grove without doubt and though not flawless the team were brilliant real fight in 2nd half and two great goals. When the 2nd one went in I thought it was just like the old days a Highbury when I was a kid on the North Bank wonderful!

    Really proud today we beat the best team in the world and I think we can build on this big time.

  • tom G

    Just a couple of points to add from me – what a night, agree with all that’s been said – @nkdon yes totally agree, amazing to hear that the Spanish press are going after Guardiola and the team in general, but what a great feeling overall.
    My two points are that I thought Wenger did do a great job on the night, and made the changes we needed to – no effort to be overly defensive in the second half apart from Nasri tucking in a bit more, which in the past for me has often been a weakness on his part, seeming to bottle it a bit (I remember being 1-0 against Man U a few seasons ago and bringing Cygan on out of position to try and shore things up, but instead cocking things up right and proper OF COURSE and losing 2-1 – and there are other examples you’ll all know as well as me). But in the second half last night we responded tactically, made that slight adjustment and played with such belief and heart and the crowd really were fantastic, every single interview I’ve seen the players have bigged up the fans and we really played our part. Great. But an enormous relief to me to see Wenger respond as well as keep to his principles.
    The second thing is to recommend Nasri’s interview on Arsenal.com – the guy’s so level headed and gets it spot on in my view. Check it out http://tv.arsenal.com/default.aspx?p=channels/C4_S1&a=77628. Future captain.
    Let’s keep it going.

  • Fo

    I’ve been walking around with a huge smile on my face all day… loving this – we need to remember it’s only half the job done.

  • http://undefined undefined

    do arsenal derserve to win anything this season?

    leave your coments here: