Thursday, April 01, 2010
The game at Barcelona is far from a foregone conclusion
By 1970’s Gooner
Yes they outplayed us. In the same manner Arsenal outplay other average Premier League sides. They had a multiple of about 3 in terms of shots at goal, passes completed and very real chances. They could have put this tie to bed from the first leg.
Yet we are still in it having come back from the dead, as it were, which goes a long way in explaining the fighting spirit and never ending tenacity that these players possess.
Don’t believe the press when they say we have no chance. They have failed to see that this Arsenal team were severely handicapped throughout the game. And these handicaps are not likely to be there for the return leg.
Consider the following:
1. Gallas was injured and should not have started
Arsene Wenger should not have started with Gallas. He only trained for three days prior to the game after being out for a month. This is not enough to judge someone’s fitness especially for such an important game.
Not only was Gallas handicapped during the game but his necessary substitution deprived Arsene of making a more tactical (free) change. It also meant that Song came back in defence, a move he was not ready nor trained for.
The end result was that Imbrahimovic was allowed the room to waltz into the area and score. Twice
2. Fabregas was injured and should not have started
What we all feared happened. Fabregas was allowed to start when it was obvious that the risk of him breaking down was high. He was also not his usual self, chasing shadows for most of the game unable to dictate play as he has been accustomed.
There was another problem created by his ineffectiveness. His position on the pitch, playing further up behind Bendtner, meant that he was the one that should have been dropping back, harassing Xabi and making life difficult for him.
Alas he was unable to do that and Xabi was free to weave his magic.
While Song was in midfield he also was not able to put up mach of a resistance against Xabi as he was positioned too far back in front of the defence to crowd Messi out.
This left huge gaps for Xabi to pick passes in the unguarded areas between Fabregas and Song. And from there Arsenal’s problems began.
3. Arshavin was injured
Andrey had to come off around the 20 minute mark depriving Wenger of another tactical substitution. He was also pretty ineffective during that early period when Barcelona were allowed to run riot.
So I ask you: Can you name a team carrying so many passengers that would have lived with this excellent Barcelona?
Yet we scrapped a 2-2 draw coming back from 2-0 down…. Pretty heroic I would say.
When we play the return leg none of the above handicaps will be there. Yes these players are of high quality but they are no good to us if they can’t produce that quality on the pitch.
We will be playing 11 fit men and will be employing the appropriate tactics to take advantage of the weaknesses that Wenger so expertly exploited by the only free substitution that he was allowed to make.
Eboue’s and Walcott’s pace but also their ability to dribble past opponents were used to terrifying effect against Barcelona’s weakest link which was their left back. Maxwell was excellent coming forward but defensively he had no answer to pace.
And Walcott and Eboue run riot there.
High balls into their area also troubled them especially with Bendtner’s height posing a threat. We didn’t put too many balls in there but when we did we reaped the dividends.
And our midfield, especially Diaby, will not sit back and admire their passing game I am sure.
And Barcelona will be minus their central defensive pairing.
So don’t despair there’s still life in this team yet….