Why Wenger’s ultra-defensive approach didn’t do Arsenal justice

by admin

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

ARSENAL came up short once again as Barcelona shattered their Champions League dream at a raucous Nou Camp stadium last night.

Billed as a tie bringing together two of the greatest exponents of the beautiful game, the Gunners were outclassed, outfought and outthought as Barcelona proved why they are the most feared side on the planet.

Football is all about rising to the big occasion, but this time Arsenal froze in the cauldron of the Nou Camp, as Barcelona pressed and pressed, kept the ball and weaved their intricate patterns through the brittle Arsenal defence.

Arsène Wenger was adamant that Arsenal were not going to rest on their laurels and sit back, but instead play on the front foot.

For the entirety of the first-half, it felt like watching a re-run of David Haye’s successful World Heavyweight Championship title defence against Audley Harrison. Arsenal were on the canvas, as they invited pressure from the hosts, albeit they didn’t deliver the knockout blow.

The stats exposed the gulf in the class. For example, Barcelona had 68% of possession and completed 738 passes to Arsenal’s 199. Not only that, but Barca had 19 attempts on goal with Arsenal not even mustering a single attempt.

Though it was a surprise that Barcelona took the lead on the stroke of the interval, Arsenal contributed to their own downfall with Fabregas attempting a suicidal backheel not far outside his penalty area.

After latching onto Andres Iniesta’s pass, Messi provided a consummate finish, feathering the ball over Manuel Almunia, who replaced the injured Wojciech Szczesny, before slamming his volley into the net.

Arsenal were struggling to get out of their own half, and as we all know Barcelona are the masters of tracking back and retrieving the ball when they lose possession.

Justice was a central theme that emanated from last night’s game, and for Arsenal seemingly, a dearth of it, when Robin Van Persie was sent off for a second bookable offence after ignoring the whistle and kicking the ball away after being in an offside position.

Referee Massimo Busacca was distinctly unimpressed and sent the forward off despite the Dutchman claiming that he did not hear the whistle.

Although he was trying to uphold the letter of the law, the decision was extremely harsh. However, Van Persie showed a petulant side when he received only a caution for shoving Dani Alves in the face. He was in a pugilistic mood most of the evening and maybe it was a matter of time before he was going to get his marching orders.

Wenger though did not hold back in his post-match ear bashing of the official, in which he said that Busacca’s decision ‘killed a promising football match’.

Of course that particular decision gave Barcelona a numerical advantage, but it wasn’t such a big turning point. Arsenal arguably killed the occasion for the fans by being pummelled continuously for 90 minutes.

Although Nicklas Bendtner should have gobbled up the opportunity presented to him by Jack Wilshere, the real injustice was why Barca’s winning margin was not bigger.

Almunia kept his team in it with a string of impressive saves, but Barcelona were wasteful in equal measure.

This was Barcelona’s night, but while there was an inquisition into the nature of their Carling Cup Final defeat, Arsenal were simply played off the park.

A potential quadruple has now been reduced to a double, and with an FA Cup quarter-final trip to Old Trafford on Saturday, maybe after that game, they may have just the Premier League to play for.

The manner of the defeat will hurt Wenger and one wonders how Arsenal will bounce back after another chastening experience in Spain.


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  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Mystical Mike

    I think we actually defended pretty well. Our captain wasn’t fit in two ways. Fit to be on the pitch, his performance was non existent, and was wasn’t fit to wear an Arsenal shirt after the way he embarrassed his team mates by hugging the whole team before the game!

    Groundhog day, been here before, and no doubt will again

  • http://www.footballbettingtipster.co.uk/ freefootballbettingtips

    i think they didnt move the ball well or they didnt follow their game plan.two teams are both great then i think its barcelonas night that time,lets see their next meeting if chelsea could win against barcelona .

  • stan

    problem is the Arsenal players have no discipline, and that must surely be the managers fault.

    Clichy is a left back yet it was constantly out of position giving Alves too much room.

    Diarby was meant to be a holding a midfielder yet was all over the shop.

    Fabreags and RVP were not fit, so they shouldn’t have played, the manager picks the team, not the players.

    I think maybe it’s time for Wenger to move upstairs, problem is, who would replace him?

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