- 17 minutes in and from a coaching perspective, Wenger must be very concerned about having one of his centre backs already on a yellow and having to use a sub to replace an injured keeper.
- Arsenal look very, very compact in defense (as Copenhagen did at home to Barca in the group stage but look to be playing too high. Eventually Alves will get in behind on their left if they keep playing such a high line
- 24th minute. Alves tackle on Nasri…total pro job. Clearly gets ball first and realizes he’s going to get a freebie with his other leg coming through. Tries to hold his ankle down a bit and drag him down.
- Near the end of the first half and it’s been tense with loads of petty fouls, time wasting and a general lack of the type of quality we’ve hoped for. This game does favour Arsenal though. No one wants Barca getting into a rhythm do they?
- Too late. That was a total Barca goal. Fantastic. Iniesta = phenomenal
- Blind back heel? In the defensive third? Against Barcelona? Cesc. Cesc. Cesc.
So how does Wenger re-tool knowing that they absolutely have to score or else they go home? If they push too much do they risk conceding a second and third?
I think Bendtner needs to come on for Rosicky and Arsenal need to find a way to get the ball into the Barcelona defensive third.
If you agree that the optimal Barcelona lineup is Valdes – Abidal, Puyol, Pique, Alves/Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi/Pedro, Messi, Villa and if, as an opponent you could take any two players out of that lineup knowing that you had to score against them, you could argue that you’d want to take out Puyol and Pique quite well. Arsenal now have that option before them. I think Fabregas can dominate Mascherano but he’s not doing it. I think Bendner can be effective against a second choice central defender like Busquets. Nasri needs to push up and Arsenal will have to take their chances with Clichy dealing with Alves.
I wouldn’t bet on them doing it now but Arsenal have got to at least press the issue. Their best attacking players have got to be the best players on the field in the second half.
- Had two texts from two different friends raving about Messi on the goal he scored and it was suberb but who else in the world besides Iniesta reads Cesc’s mind, beats two defenders in a tiny space and chips the perfect ball through for Messi to score on?
- Game on! Credit to Nasri for winning the corner after being closed down by three defenders. It was his best option and it led to the own goal by Busquets (already noted the danger of having non-centre backs put in that position)
- Im not a Mascherano fan but his job is to stop Nasri advancing and he got bounced off by the much smaller midfielder. That allowed Nasri to get to the point where he could actually win the corner.
- Terrible call on the second yellow for VanPersie but he asked for it by getting a stupid, selfish yellow in the first half.
- Different game now. Suddenly Wilshire and Diaby become the most important players for Arsenal. Need to stop Barca midfield penetration. Not doing a good enough job at the moment. Barcelona are pouring through.
- With Koscielny on a yellow, Djourou now really has to track Messi more or Arsenal risk going down to nine men.
- Koscielny lucky to stay on based on how the ref’s been calling this game. Strange PK by Messi but the biggest downer is now we definitely won’t get extra time!
- At least Arsenal finally took Rosicky off. Not sure Arshavin is the answer though. The reality is that they need to play more direct and will need a target like Bendtner or Chamakh.
- Barca now going to slip into keep away mode for the next 20 minutes…
- Wenger pacing on the sideline. Livid. Already thinking of his post-game rant on the Van Persie call.
- 85th minute and Bendtner misses the chance that would have put Arsenal into the next round. Bendtner: don’t ever tell us again how great you are and how you’re going to be the best player in the Premiership again. Ever. Credit to Mascherano for tracking all him all the way back and taking advantage of Bendtner’s leaden first touch.