Arsenal shine brightest after stunning victory against Barcelona

by admin

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

After a customary winter break, the Champions League returned with a bang this week, with Arsenal and Spurs pitting their wits against Barcelona and AC Milan respectively.

While the headline for this blog acknowledges the remarkable performances by both Arsenal and Spurs, I have decided to focus on the former, as their victory was probably even greater than Spurs’ albeit they had a daunting trip to one of the most intimidating arenas in European football on Tuesday.

At first glance, while this appeared to be a mouth-watering tie with both sides trusting their attacking philosophies, it seemed to be a bit of a mismatch.

Arsene Wenger had said prior to last night’s meeting with Barcelona that they had closed the gap and were at the same level as their Spanish counterparts.

Yet after surviving an early scare from the little maestro Lionel Messi who spurned a decent opportunity by clipping his shot wide of Szczesny’s post, it seemed to be déjà vu when David Villa opened the scoring for the visitors.

Barcelona’s monopolised possession and their slick play was spellbinding at times. Villa, Messi and Pedro were supplied superbly by the intricate passing of their midfield generals, Xavi and Iniesta.

It was breathless at times, and some of the Arsenal team seemed to puff their cheeks as they tried to recover when they lost the ball- ball retention is drilled into the players at an early age. Messi, Xavi and Iniesta pay testament to this, as they were products of the La Masia system, which is a stone’s throw from the Nou Camp.

Some of the stats made for worrying reading for Arsenal fans, most notably the number of passes completed, which by the end of the match Arsenal had made 299 to Barca’s 629.

However to suggest that Arsenal beat Barcelona at their own game seems a bit nonsensical; if anything they stood tall in the second-half and were not bullied out of the game.

Furthermore, their sheer perseverance and single-mindedness to win saw them through. Robin Van Persie’s goal was expertly executed as he managed to beat Victor Valdes from an acute angle.

You could sense the palpable fear striking through the Barca team, and at that point they were rocking- most unusual considering that Barcelona tend to sweep past everything placed in front of them. The pendulum certainly swung in this match.

Andrey Arshavin has been subdued in recent weeks and gone missing in the big games, but his winner was something to be savoured, as he bent a consummate right-footed shot past Valdes.

The jubilation displayed by the fans and players alike at the final whistle embodied the magnitude of the win. Last night’s offering at the Emirates was a feast- in many respects it was a state of art rather than a football contest, what with the array of attacking talent painting their brushstrokes on the game.

The job as it is important to remember at this stage, is only half done. Who knows what the Nou Camp has in store, but belief and belief alone will not help Arsenal prevail- nullifying the threat of Messi et al will be key but that is easier said than done.

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  • Stratty

    You’re mad! Spurs have done the hard work… Arsenal are going to be sent away with the tail between their legs in the return. Arsenal were at home, Spurs were away. Quite, quite mad!

  • Charles Perrin

    Hi Dan

    Being a Spurs fan, I did not want to go overboard on Spurs’ win though was ecstatic on Tuesday night. I do clearly point out at the end that Arsenal have the likes of Messi and Xavi to contend with and some of the football displayed by Barca is on another planet. At this moment in time, for the neutral at least, the tie is finely poised.

  • http://newsnow herbzoverrum

    so do the spudz fans thimk they could have done better?
    i know arsenal would have turned over the ac milan over the hill

  • AntiOnan

    So, Arsenal who were overrun for 80% of the match on their home ground but still managed to beat Barcelona have made a better performance than have THFC who overran the current serie A leaders for the first half and who matched them in the nseciond and beat them away?
    I watched both matches and while I can understand the Arsenal jubilation for finally beating Barcelona at the what 7th attempt, it sure did not look likely as Barca missed chances everywhere.
    But I see your desperation and understand: you finally beat Barcelona…personally I hope that you put them out in the next game as I know which of the two Arsenal or Barcelona I would rather meet in the semis.

    But dream on as we all know what little truth and reality have to do with what you lot say and think.

  • AntiOnan

    OH one point of contradiction as well…had Barcelona put even half of their chances away(and remember it wasn’t good defence but poor or unlucky shooting which cost them) the score would have approached 5 or 6.

    I am happy to see barca beat, even by Arsenal, but when Arsenal win the tie then I will be impressed as until then it is only :”Lucky Arsenal” while had we taken some of our chances in the first 45 the tie would be over now. I expect that ACM at WHL wont be any pushover but I think that we can find a way past them. Do you think that Arsenal can do the same?

  • Rayzor

    Both victories were equal, remember this was spurs first season in the champions league, and the trip to the San Siri was daunting. But on the other hand arsenal beat a better team, so it’s a tie for this one

  • simon

    Hilarious to see Spurs trying to claim beating that worst Milan team in 40 years (with half a team missing) is more impressive than beating the best team in football history.

    Think Spurs are just a bit gutted that their limelight was taken away.

  • Andy Watkins

    Don’t really think you can argue which was the greatest feat but what with Spurs being in their debut season in the Champions League, I’d have to say their victory at the San Siro probably tips the balance.

    I can imagine the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and especially Man Utd going there and settling for a draw. Yes, AC Milan may not be the force they used to be but most teams would still see a point at the San Siro as a great result and look to use the home leg as their best chance of getting the better of them.

    For Spurs to not only come back to White Hart Lane with a chance but a lead I think is testament to Harry Redknapp and the belief he has instilled in his players.

  • Charles Perrin

    I don’t support Arsenal, but I’m afraid you have overlooked the purpose of what this article is suggesting. What I am trying to point out is that both victories were deserved on merit, but Arsenal’s was the more remarkable as it was a terrific turnaround, when facing Barcelona seems an improbable task with the players they have at their disposal.

    I had to write this article through gritted teeth being a Spurs fan, but you had to savour the football played on Wednesday night at the Emirates.

  • Charles Perrin

    I think you make a very valid point Andy in terms of the belief that Redknapp has instilled into the players, but then he has always been adept at man-managing and getting the best out of his team.

    I suppose to a certain extent it is difficult to judge the nature of the victories, as they were played in different contexts. However, Arsenal’s tips the balance because they had a wretched record against Barcelona and it sets things nicely up for the second leg. Spurs on the otherhand, have a better chance of going through considering that WHL has been something akin to a fortress in the Champions League this season.

  • AntiOnan

    Wow!!! The red browntonguing here is incredible!
    Certainly A*senal beat Barcelona 2-1 but if you think that score is a trues reflection of the match then you are crazy. IMHO A*seal deserved to win by simply surviving the Barca onslaught.
    How many times have you tried to beat Barca over the last 10 seasons? You had to win sooner or later as luck demanded it and although Barca are the world’s best team A*senal have been in the top dozen for most of this time so congrats on finally doing it.
    But naturally I will really add to it IF you win or draw the away leg.

    As for THFC ‘s win vs the leaders in Serie A? Sure they haven’t had as much practice at trying to beat them as have you and yes ACM were missing a few players but so were THFC as you well know.
    But THFC was all over them in the first 45 much like Barca were all over you in the first 45 with the only difference being that THFC did not score as did Barca. As for teh last 45 at Mialn THFC did somethign that no one though possible : they defended with skill and tenacity much more like the A*senal of old than THFC ever.

    I just don’t understand you people: I am happy for you becasue of you winning at last but its not over by a long shot.
    I am also happy for THFC and IF you wish a comparison of teh two wins go look at the bookies’ odds before the matches. I actually won 100$ for 5$ on the Milan match but only won 3$ on the London match.
    I am hopeful as opposed to certain about the next leg for THFC. They will have a lot to prove as a club because of the HUGE loss of face and a draw is not impossible if they do the usual away catenaccio or PL lower level 4-5-1-0. But getting a draw with barca at the Nou Camp THAT will warrant the above rubbish

  • AntiOnan

    BTW Mr Perrin my post’s sarcasm was not aimed at you but the rubbish below it but I still disagree with your view as Arsenal have certainly had enough practice at trying to beat Barcelona or any top team. I was not surprised in the slighetst by our group win as I knew Mourinho would be an impossible act to follow for Benitez, Werder were imploding already and it was Twente that I feared most.
    IMHO the San Siro mact was our first real test in Europe and although i backed us to win I expected a 1-2 or 0-1 loss. But I backed Arsenal to win as surely they had to do it sometime.

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