I have finally arrived back in the UK after my trip to Barcelona and by now you all know how disappointed I must feel. The same as you all feel… I have had some time to relax, reflect and think more pragmatically about the result and the performance…
So where did it all go wrong?
Starting Line Up
There was an ongoing debate prior to the game to whether Diaby or Denilson should start, and for Arsene, Diaby won that decision – there was always a risk with a player like Diaby, who has been out through injury and suspension for most of the season. A player who is so rusty will not be on his own game as much as he should be and in addition, Diaby isn’t a defensive midfielder – so effectively the decision to play him meant that we played with no defensive midfielders. As a result of this, Nasri and Rosicky had to tuck in more, preventing them from attacking.
Cesc and RvP were both included in the starting line-up and both were not 100% – it was clear to see. Cesc, for me, and something he admitted afterwards wasn’t at the races and also got himself injured earlier on, without coming off – something that is very much more detrimental to your team than staying on. And Rosicky – one of the worst players of the season so far – somehow got the nod ahead of the likes of Eboue and Arshavin. Barcelona hate pace, so instead of playing a pacey player, we decided to play our slowest and most out of form midfielder.
Sagna – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy
Rosicky – Wilshere – Cesc – Diaby – Nasri
The starting line up – back 5 and striker but midfield should have been a lot different:
Wilshere – Denilson
Eboue – Cesc – Nasri
The starting line up was wrong, and if Eboue had started, we would have a different option, pace. The one thing that Barcelona hate is pace, and the one player they fear is Messi. In fact, the reason that we suffer so much at the hands of Barce, is that they have inherent pace within each player. Something that means that they can move much quicker. By playing Diaby, as mentioned earlier, we had a hole just in front of the two centre backs, whereas Denilson would have filled that hole.
Our main tactic of “tiring” Barcelona and then hitting them hard in the second half was probably not something we really should have adopted. To come out of the whole game without stringing three passes together and without having a single shot on or off target is very embarrassing. Arsene had been speaking all week about not parking the bus and then he goes and parks a double decker. Yes, Barce were good, but having unfit players as well as rusty players in your midfield means you can’t compete – Denilson and Eboue would have meant we would have cut up more chances for them and added pace into the mix.
Now, that was shocking wasn’t it? To see that no Barcelona players were booked, whilst every tackle we made was. How on earth those decisions can be just, I do not know.
Arsene summed up the decisions better than I can…
Two kinds of people can be unhappy; those who love Arsenal and those who love football can be frustrated with the referee’s decisions. When he made the decision it was a very promising game, very interesting. That’s the regret. We lost against a very good Barcelona side, congratulations to them and good luck for the future. We have many regrets tonight because we didn’t expect to lose the game like that. I feel sorry for people who watched the game tonight.
Van Persie was absolutely livid and rightly so – and now both Arsene and Nasri have been charged with improper conduct following their comments. What on earth is happening to the game? It’s ridiculous…
Time to wind this up for now – myself and fellow Gooner Bob have made a lot of notes, but it’s way past my jetlagness and I’m going to publish and sleep… more analysis tomorrow…