You might remember this article just after the last Wolves game where I was discussing the quick counter attack that led to the second goal in that game and how it might be a dress rehearsal for Barcelona.
As it turned out Arsenal repeated the performance against the favourites to complete the turn around.
It started in our penalty box when Koscielny made the interception @82:21
It’s interesting to note that Nasri was sprinting back to support the defenders at that moment. He is seen wide on the left in that image.
I was impressed by the composure shown by Koscielny after winning the ball back. He took three or four touches before finding Bendtner wide on the right.
The Dane wasn’t even in the picture when the ball was won but dropped back and went wide to receive the ball. It’s worth noting how deep Nasri had come. He is just five yards or so in front of Koscielny.
When Bendtner receives the ball he displays a surprisingly good first touch. It’s also worth mentioning that while one-touch passing is generally highly appreciated, in some cases it’s not a good option. Here Bendtner didn’t have a good pass available that would not have put a teammate under pressure so he takes two or three touches.
We can also see Nasri is already on his way forward immediately after he’d sprinted back.
The striker beats Barcelona’s wolf-pack with a good pass to Wilshere who is now in a bit of space as the opponents converged towards the Dane. In my opinion this pass was a critical one as it took out six players. If Bendtner had given the ball away it would have been disastrous.
Nasri is already behind eight Barcelona players who are all still thinking of attacking the ball.
Wilshere then came up with a sublime touch. The youngster shifted his weight on to the standing foot and laid it off to Cesc with the perfect pace. In contrast with the Bendtner situation, Wilshere did have a good one-touch pass available to him and he took it really well. If he’d taken an extra touch the wolf-pack would have been on him and the attacking impetus would have been lost.
Nasri is already out of the picture anticipating the pass from Fabregas who is yet to receive the ball!
Fabregas controlled the ball with a delightful touch on the turn. Cesc had already seen the run by Nasri and doesn’t need any time to ping the ball in his path. All nine Barca players in the picture are now thinking about chasing the ball and worried about their goal.
After that Nasri took three or four touches without taking a hasty shot or making a hopeful pass to RvP. Arshavin made a good run and finished with a single touch @82:39.
It’s interesting to note that Alves is ahead of RvP in the last still shot. While the Dutchman sprinted into the Barca box the Brazilian jogged back leaving Arshavin completely free. It could be that all his runs down the right had left him a bit tired. In most games he’d get away with it as the attackers would not have the quality shown by Nasri and Arshavin.
Bendtner’s contribution is also worth acknowledging. Most strikers would not have such understanding in that part of the pitch. It needs a lot of practice and comes from being part of the system.
This attack saw a combination of one-touch (Arshavin, Cesc, Wilshere) and composed yet quick (Koscielny, Bendtner, Nasri) passing and finishing.
Arsenal will need more of this when we visit Camp Nou. Barcelona will be sharper in their attacks and even more suffocating with their pressing. Something tells me it can be done.