Analysis of the Barcelona Game

Howdie Folks…

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

Van Persie

The starting line up – back 5 and striker but midfield should have been a lot different:

Wilshere – Denilson

Eboue – Cesc – Nasri

Van Persie


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…

Until then!

  • edison

    nice one dev

    still havent made much sense of the game last night. Its hard to nail down exactly what happened when everyone (neutral football enthusiasts, tv pundits, scum fans) are too occupied heckling arsenal.

    Graham f*cking Souness by far pissed me right off. giving it all the ‘arsenal had this coming’ jibe. ‘theyve just got done to em what they do to all the teams in the premiership’ etc.

    Back to the game analysis..

    I suppose it was always going to be a toss-up between denilson or diaby, and to be honest, I would have chose Diaby over denilson too. recent form for either of them has been shocking, denilsons terrible passing against average premiership teams wouldnt go down well trying to play-make against barca. Diaby had the benefit of the doubt, simply because he has been injured and not had the chance to be lazy/make mistakes.

    I think the true error definitely was Rosicky, and while he fought all game (well his usual 60 minutes) – it completely nailed down our midfield.

    Eboue would have been the ultimate choice indeed. he has good pace going forward, and besides it would be like having an extra full back / defensive player. Which seeing as defending is what we decided to do all game, Eboue would have came in handy.

  • yemi

    We should not also forget that the goal keeping change we made in the 15th minute also put us in a tight corner both tactically and emotionally.

    Tactically in the sense that we had only one change left plus one . We could have read the game and made the changes where needed.

    Emotionally because we lost a good keeper and he was being replaced by a keeper we didn’t trust

  • pires

    It’s amazing what people what to kid themselves on. The situation this season is no different to the previous 5. Wenger is wedded to certain players and a way of playing that may look pretty when we are beating Orient 5-0 but always comes short when it matters. It is time to have a clear out of some of the squad and get in some proven experienced talent but you and I know he wont do it. On the radio this morning a football journo from the Guardian and full blown Gooner was saying Wenger needs to let some new blood into the coaching team but only wants low profile yes men – there was a discussion about poor Pat Rice. Apparently, Steve Bould is being kept out of the first team set up cos Wenger thinks he will challenge him too much. At the end of the day Wenger is being indulged by a Board who are taking us for a ride. We have the 4th highest wage bill in the PL yet Wenger is doing no more than the minimum expected with the vast resources at his disposal. Losing to Barca is always on the cards for us but losing to the likes of Birmingham is a disgrace. It’s interesting that Pep Guardiola said there is no pressure for AFC to win things. The form of the team is poor at the moment yet all Wenger can blame is ref decisions for our plight like he did after the Sunderland game as well. We have to hope Manure go off the rails big time to have a chance of winning something but when will Wenger and the Board really start the need to change?

  • Fo

    Cesc is out of the United game but Van PErsie is fit!

  • pires

    This was one of the most one-sided games I have seen for many years. How Wenger thought he could get a result by his negative tactics beggars belief. Arsenal showed almost no attacking ambition. Wenger’s menopausal-inspired antics are becoming an embarrassment.

    Wenger got the result that he deserved. He fielded an 11-man defence in a team with no attacking ambition or creative flair, in the hope that he could defend a one-goal advantage with heavy tackles, time-wasting and kicking the creative Barcelona players.

    It is frustrating to be totally outplayed by a team with superior skills, particularly when they show their contempt for your team by playing the whole game at a walking pace, but there is no excuse for Wenger’s behavior. He became an acute embarrassment years ago when he developed his early-onset menopause and his deepening paranoia. His astonishing performance last night, dancing along the touch-line like a demented stick insect wearing a water-proof sleeping bag, was farcical. His bleating about the red card is the latest example of his dishonesty. Van Persie was as active in time wasting during the first half as any other member of his team, particularly after the feigned injury to Wilshire. His excuse for the time-wasting offence that led to his dismissal lacks all credibility. He, and every other player on both sides, heard and responded to every other blast from the referee’s whistle. I watched the incident again this morning and it was blatant time wasting.

    Arsenal lost, not because they were punished for unsporting behavior, but because they were totally outplayed in all aspects of the game by a superior and talented team. Whatever tactics were used, Arsenal could never have prevented Barcelona from winning this game, but they could have tried to make a game of it. Not attempting one shot on goal was appalling, especially in the second half when, as Wenger claimed, “the game opened up”. The violence shown by Van Persie to Alves that led to his first caution may well have been directly inspired by Wenger’s irrational antics. His paranoia is deepening, made worse by the magical glasses with which he views his team’s performances.

    Wenger is now the problem. His antics are clearly affecting his team, responsible for the constant sense of injustice that permeates his team which leads to the physical aggression of his players, the yellow cards they are awarded, and the constant crowding around the referee to dispute every decision.

  • edison

    biggest overreaction of the year so far. same old fickle arsenal fans always do it, a result goes against us and suddenly its ‘wenger should go’ , ‘hes lost the plot’.

    Wenger hasn’t lost the plot, and how any manager cannot be paranoid when going to the Nou Camp with a slender one goal advantage is beyond me.

    We have gone over how his tactics may have contributed towards the loss, but in all fairness the 11 men out on the pitch knew what job they had to do anyway and didn’t show up.

    Regardless of who played, it doesn’t make a difference whether it was denilson or diaby (they are both as suspect as each other) – Our lads simply weren’t allowed any time to do it, Barcelona played their full game, similarly to how we did at home in the first leg, and left us to try and defend all game.

    This has little to do with the manager in all fairness, it was a bad team dynamic overall. You’d be mental to call for Wenger’s head on the back of one game.

    You need to realise that this season Arsenal have done very little wrong. Aside from the Carling Cup final. We are the only other team in the title race, we are still in the FA CUP. We have remained relatively injury free until now – who’s to complain ?

    Lose to United on saturday and finish 5th in the league the call for the head of ‘le professeur’.

  • pires

    I was at the Emirates and posted how brilliant it was and it was games like that that made it great to be a fan. As soon as there’s a defeat all you do is come on and slag off To say those who hate Wenger ( how can you hate someone you don’t know?) means “they hate Arsenal” is one of the most stupid comments ever and it’s not the first time with you.

  • Vazy

    @pires hear hear!

    @edison agreed with everything you say, i was waiting for them to come out.. the arsenal boo boys on here overreact to everything possible

  • Fo

    @ Vazy:
    @ pires:
    @ edison:

    No point slagging off the team and the club.

    One thing is clear though – we don’t have the strength in depth that we need. Our fringe players like Diaby, Rosicky, Denilson, Bendtner etc are not good enough to come in and do a job. Not an over-reaction – but we’ve seen it all too much this season. Some of the youngsters have made it (Song, Wilshere, etc), some haven’t!

  • pires

    Yes but will Wenger ever get rid of them? I think i know the answer to that

  • Gooner Get Ya

    Did any one else find the tv coverage woeful, exertions we had the ball the camera was zoomed in on a barca player or their manager. Didn’t hardly show us in what limited possession we did have.

  • Berth

    I like the way Wenger is raging against UEFA, If he doesn’t stand up to this guys who will; the decision still remains outrageous and no matter what people think about us been outplayed the outcome was still an uncertainty.

    Just last season we outplayed united so well at Old Trafford only to loose after they got that penalty; until then there was no real threat from united. That is just an example. So whoever says the outcome of the match would have been the same regardless of the sending off should perhaps be called Paul de octopus.

    Still we do lack in some areas; like Diaby and Rosicky; Alumnia and Denilson; Wenger should question them and tell them to leave next summer if they cannot deliver.

  • Kodjo

    I think pires is overreacting having said that he is entitled to his opinions. The one thing we all agree on is the shocking form of Rosicky…as someone pointed out if Eduardo was cut surely then Rosicky should go as well…then again we fan always complain that there is no experience in the squad…this may explain Rosicky’s place in the squad.

    I remember that Scholes was a shocker a few seasons ago but Fergie kept faith in him and every now and then he’s called upon stabilize the team bcos of his experience and he has been largely influential except for the Chelsea (2nd half) and l’pool games. Class is permanent but form is temporary! Wenger may have gambled on the fact that Rosicky still has 2-3 seasons of top flight football in him given his injuries…but it hasnt quite worked out that way. Still he is a good squad player. Yes Eboue may have been a better option for the Barca game (but we have the benefit if this in hindsight) but we all know Eboue is good at going forward and not he best defensively hence Wenger’s decision to bring in Sagna…Remember 2-3 season ago we lost games bcos teams figured out that Eboue was the weak link defensively.

    Sure Wenger has to deal with the Diaby/Denilson conundrum on whether they both stay or go. I think the injury to Frimpong may have hamstrung Wenger bcos he would have played a big part this season as he is the only ready made replacement for Song. I believe there are certain games like the barca one where both Frimpong & Song would have played.

    The end of the season will prove to be a watershed for Wenger bcos for sure there will be a clear out with new faces coming in. The likes of JET, Lansbury, Henderson, Ramsey, Miquel, Bartley, Vela, Miyachi are all knocking hard on the doors.

    Thing is you can’t throw in too many youngster who have little premiership experience, on the other hand you have to create opportunities for these up and coming players.

    The other factor which has always thrown a spanner in the fortunes of arsenal which I have resisted writing about is the establishment both locally in England & UEFA and referees. I am not a whiner but I can tell how draws and referee selection are fixed to prevent arsenal and for that matter English teams from advancing.

    Yes arsenal to an extent messed up 2 away group games bcos the fringe players did not perform but, what you cannot ignore is the blatant bias by the officials in those games. Once we couldn’t navigate those away games I new that barca will be drawn against arsenal. It’s common knowledge.