Arsenal V Barcelona: A Football Lover’s Dream

I’m not sure what many people understood from yesterday’s article. So many felt that I was trying to claim Arsenal are far superior to Barcelona. Some tried to comment that almost every Barca player is better than his Arsenal counterpart.

Le Boss conveyed my thoughts with the perfect words in his press conference,

I do not deny their quality, because Barcelona have an exceptional team – but we are an exceptional team as well. The form of the day, the desire, the belief, how much we play for each other will make the difference. We have, of course, to cancel their strengths, but Barcelona will have the same problem. They are an individual and collective threat, but so are we.

No one denies the quality Barcelona have. In fact, if Arsenal don’t go through Barca are the only team I root for because despite their dirty politics their football is fantastic.

Arsene mentioned the keywords – form of the day, desire and belief. I would add that whichever team plays a better collective game will come out on top. Of course, individual moments of brilliance or blunders can always have a big impact on the result as we have seen in other big games this season.

Tactics

Barcelona overcame a resilient Chelsea defence on their way to the Final last year. In the Final they beat a United team that actually tried to attack them. Makes you wonder what is the best strategy against such a phenomenal team.

I think we need to stick to our game. If we put men behind the ball we will not survive for too long. Even when we play a positive game, we cannot afford to keep a high line like we do. If our central defenders are near the half way line there is just too much space for this Barcelona attack to exploit.

If we push really high up, we crowd out their defensive third and give them vast spaces to attack. If we sit too deep we will invite pressure and struggle to get out of our half. I think we need to dominate possession in the middle of the park and pull Barcelona out creating space behind their defenders.

For this to succeed our midfield needs to be really close to the defence. I wrote about this while analyzing Spain’s victory over France in this article. France had a lot of attacking talent in the likes of Anelka, Henry and Ribery. Spain played a patient game with a solid defence and exploited the mistakes by France. I’ve a feeling this is exactly what Barca will try at the Emirates.

Those with a sense of humour might call this a France V Spain game anyway! Let’s hope this French team knows how to deal with the Spaniards.

At any moment when we lose possession at least one defender and midfielder should be close to Messi even if we don’t man mark him. It will be interesting to see whether Clichy bombs forward or plays a conservative game. In the recent past his attacking contribution hasn’t been great so it might make sense for him to stay deep.

Our wingers will have to track the runs of their full backs. I don’t think they will come out all that often but Barca players are good at timing such runs and we need to be aware of it at all times. I’m not convinced Arshavin will be able to do this consistently and hence the midfield must be ready to cover, just like the visitors cover for Messi, Henry and Co.

The tempo of the game will also be important. If both teams show respect to each other the pace will be slow as the players are watchful and conscious of conceding possession. The team that raises it at the right moments will succeed.

Arsenal need to move the ball from flank to flank. I feel we don’t do this fast enough in big games. If we use the width of the Emirates in the right manner, Barca defence can be stretched and given a stern test.

We also need to keep the ball for as long as possible thus frustrating the opposition. Barca are not used to playing without the ball and if we can sustain this they will make some mistakes as the game goes on. I’m confident that Song, Cesc, and Nasri can keep the ball but Arshavin and Bendtner will have to do much better with their touches.

We need to be ready to counter the tactics of Guardiola. I’m not sure if he will go with an attacking line-up or will play a conservative game. I mean as conservative as you can be with the likes of Messi and Ibrahimovic in the team! The injury to Iniesta means that two out of Toure, Kieta and Busquets might start the game. I think that weakens them considerably and could lead to Barca relying on individual moments rather than the possession game.

Team Thoughts

I’m going with the assumption that Song will play in midfield. God forbid, if we have to play him at centre back, all tactics will be redundant and we will have to rely a lot on individuals carrying us through.

Another assumption is that Fabregas will start. Without Cesc in the middle, the whole approach would change.

At the back I have a feeling we will risk Gallas. Campbell doesn’t look fit enough to play two high intensity games in three days and it will be a huge risk to play Song in defence.

On the right I’d pick Eboue over Sagna as the Ivorian offers an attacking threat that will help us use the full width of the pitch.

Will Arsene pick Denilson or Diaby to partner El Capitan and the Cameroon hard-man? I’m praying it’s Diaby. I’d love to see Nasri or Rosicky in the middle but they just haven’t played there often enough this season and sudden changes might not work in a big game.

The other advantage with Diaby is that he has a unique style and Barca won’t find it easy to stop him.

The front three are quite likely to be Arshavin, Bendtner and Nasri with Walcott and Rosicky available as impact subs.

The team I’d like to see is,

Almunia; Eboue, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy; Song, Cesc, Diaby; Nasri, Bendtner, Arshavin.

Bottom-line

For all the hype around Barca, they scored only seven goals in the six group games and drew twice and lost one of those six. Even away to Stuttgart they really struggled and a more clinical team might have finished them off.

We need to take our chances and we have to avoid blunders in defence. Almunia, Clichy, Arshavin, and Bendtner are you listening?!


18 Responses to Arsenal V Barcelona: A Football Lover’s Dream

  1. arvind says:

    Nice article! I would say this game would be won on the defensive side. Barca are highly aggressive when losing the ball in winning it back. We need to take the same approach. Also, Bendtner has to have the game of his life. I do belive theo needs to feature in this game… his pace will cause some problems and keep at least one side of the defense back….

    Arshavin needs to pass and have his shot on target for this game.

    The danger man in my eyes in Dani Alves… he is the best player in the world… his attacking style and defense are incredible.

    I saw the friendly match between barca and chivas here in san francisco last summer and barca ran their entire offense thu dani in the second half… it was a thing to behold….

    eboue could be key for us

  2. Aussie Jack says:

    What ever the result it will be a match to behold.

    Just a tip Arsene, there`s a bloke called Francis Drake who might slot in if Cesc can`t play. Last time he played we won.

  3. Gtr gooner says:

    I think Arshavin needs to track back coz he is on messi’s side. I have a gut feeling that wenger is going to use his some kind of magical wand to beat barca. By magical wand i mean kind of tactics that we have not seen yet. By the way there is a good news that Bayern munich have won over manure by 2 goals to 1.

  4. Ahmad says:

    i really dun thnk dat wenger’s gona go 4 eboue at da back!
    defensively…sagna is a better option!
    da main thng for me is da tracking back off arshavin and the touches of NiKKi B in the middle of the park!
    i hav a gut feeling that we’l keep a clean sheet! =D

  5. Hong_gunner says:

    May be, i thought, both eboue and sanga could start this game. But will Le boss decide to play Sagna on the left? Messi is at his lethal best when he drifts inside from the flank into the empty spaces, and he’ll take on Clichy all night, drifting towards his weak foot side(right – for Clichy), and Messi using both his feets could turn Clichy inside-out at will. But if we want to give us chance to use the width via clichy, which i prefer, we could still hold a higher line with Vermaelen trying to cut the space for messi to drift inside. Diaby has to work really hard in plugging the gaps. And so will Song. Arsha wont track back that much as he isnt that kind of a player by natural instincts. He’s our floating creative dribbler upfront, and the dimension of supply towards him will be vital to keep possession and pin them back. Wenger must be preparing, not about messi, but bout how we play. If we can stiffle the pockets where messi loves to run with the ball, im assured we can take a confident lead to camp nou.

  6. ARSENAL GODFATHER says:

    LETS JUST HOPE THE WEAK DENILSON DO NOT PLAY AGAIN.

    HE COST US DEARLY THIS SEASON.

    WENGER MUST DROP THAT DENILSON NOW!!!!!!!

  7. ARSENAL GODFATHER says:

    DENILSON JUST COST US A GOAL AGAIN…. AT THE WEEKEND.

    DENILSON IS RUBBISH.

    DENILSON IS RUBBISH.

    DENILSON IS RUBBISH.

  8. AdamWarlock says:

    LETS JUST HOPE THE ARSENAL GODFATHER DO NOT SPEAK AGAIN.
    ARSENAL GODFATHER IS RUBBISH.
    ARSENAL GODFATHER IS RUBBISH.
    ARSENAL GODFATHER IS RUBBISH.

  9. Sonu says:

    Of all the screw ups life has to offer this is the biggest yet!…I will be travelling at the time the game begins!….Can’t believe I’ll miss the game!. 😦
    I just hope the Arsenal fans really pump it up and get behind the players, make it hostile for Barca and recreate the Highbury magic.
    Any Gooners feeling generous then please keep me posted on the game via text if possible.Would really appreciate it!
    No is: 9902340304

  10. varun says:

    the gunners at the emirates must make as much noise as the germans did in munich. the crowd rallies up the team. This is going to be a visual feast, but i feel it is difficult for arsenal to win. had we had van persie this would have been a cracker. i think it would be 1-1 or 1-2

  11. Gtr gooner says:

    I think gallas will start and Fabregas will play. But even if Fabregas does not play i think we still have a very good chance . Then nasri will come in central midfield, but on wing i think wenger will go with walcott coz barca are not a physical side and right now barca left side of defence is not that strong. Walcott pace can really exploit that. Desi gunner what do you think if Fabregas cant play?? Do you think we still have a chance? How tactics will be changed then?

  12. Hong_gunner says:

    @Gtr – Even if cesc isnt fit to start, yes, i think we have a great chance. But i think he will. Nasri wont alter the pace much, but i think Cesc gives us that. Anywhere he though plays, its a great chance for Nasri to prove his class on a big stage. Nasri on the right, to keep confusing and disorganise the Barca left side(thats where most of our attacks will be focused, i guess, and Eboue may hence start. One swift interchange of positions and a killer ball from midfield. Its also Barca who have to think how to stop Arsenal. Common Arsenal!!

  13. wadea says:

    i really hope cesc will play coz if he doesnt we wont have any players that could potentioally fill in for him and do the stuff he can do for instance the vision, the technique in his passing , and his incredible runs… nasri can but he is not good enough tbh. bendtner has to play as well as he did vs porto, and arshavin needs to sort himself out coz he has been missing some chancees latley, overall score, 2-1 arsenal or 1-1 , i wudnt mind 0-0

  14. critic says:

    thank god no barca idiot here this tym…

  15. Aniruddh says:

    Don’t big matches pull in big crowds
    just think of your other previews and tell me ,besides a few committed readers, did this blog have such a big following
    no wonder the TV companies love such occasions

    • desigunner says:

      I think this time it’s different because I’ve recently joined the Newsnow network and the link to that article was posted on a lot of Barca forums which led to hundreds of visitors who would not have been here otherwise.

      But your point in general is valid. I know a lot of people who don’t watch all the games but just catch the big ones.

  16. Gtr gooner says:

    A very interesting thing in this match will be how each of the team reacts to the team which plays the same way as their opponents do. Both teams have usually reacted to opponents which put a lot of men behind the ball. I think this prospect will turn the game in our favour coz we all know about Arsene wenger’s experience.

  17. Force Factor says:

    Denilson spoiled the game this time,,he should be dropped,,,

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