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Second Half Rally Stuns Barcelona + Player Ratings

Arshavin after bagging the winner

Arshavin after bagging the winner

February 16 2011, no gooner in the world is going to forget this date for years to come, its the date where this Arsenal team of so called spine less youngsters, who to us are some of the best in the business, beat the juggernaut that is Barcelona supposedly the best team in the world. Second half goals from RVP and Arshavin proved were enough to settle the tie.

Let it be remembered that we here at MG predicted that no matter what, we won’t lose at the Emirates, and we went a step further by saying we would defeat Barca at their own game. Le Boss sent out what has become our strongest and best eleven this season, and he thrust Nasri into the game knowing quite well it could backfire but that’s to show how much was on the line yesterday. Barca made one change with Maxwell coming in for the injured Puyol.

As always the game started at usual pace, with Arsenal throwing caution to the wind and attacking Barca, and it ruffled the Catalans as they struggled to string passes, the first chance went begging as RVP collected a lobbed pass from Cesc but Valdes was equal to it. Warning shot fired. We threatened again, this time a solo run from Theo that came to nothing as his pass found no one. The Emirates was buzzing knowing the players could smell blood. It was Barca’s turn to attack as a Xavi pass found Messi who escaped the attentions of Song only to be clipped by the Camerounian who got a booking for his troubles. A 6th minute booking for our DM wasn’t a good sign.

Messi at the centre of most attacks again was released through on goal and with Chezzer at his mercy dinked the ball over the young pole only to see it trickle past the post. Hearts-in-mouths moment for all Arsenal fans. But it didn’t take long for the first goal to come and it came after Abidal had beaten Van Persie to a header only for Barca to counter and Messi released David Villa who was played onside by Clichy and he coolly slotted home. There was still time for Chezzer to block a back heel attempt from Pedro. You’d be forgiven for thinking we were going to get a spanking. Messi had the ball in the net moments later only to be adjudged offside. Half Time

The second half saw us on the front foot as early as possible as the team showed more bite and hunger going forward, Nasri after a slow start came into the game and Fab started to find Theo more and his pace caused problems for Maxwell only to see his cross elude everyone. The next chance fell to us with Wilshere shooting straight at Valdes. Barca had another chance to extend their lead, after Messi again found space behind Eboue only for his shot to hit the side netting. David Villa was substituted as he was getting no love from Kozzer and JD and keita came on in his place.

This was the turning point in the game as AW pulled off a master stroke, he took out Song and introduced Arshavin and had all of his attacking players on the field at once. Arshavin had a hand in the goal as he swapped passes with Clichy before the latter lifted a sweet pass over Dani Alves for RVP, perhaps expecting a cross from him Valdes left his near post open as RVP capitalised and rifled in a shot home from a tight angle. The Emirates exploded. It was to get better five minutes later as we conjured up a superb counter-attacking goal, Samir Nasri racing onto Cesc Fabregas’s fine 50 yard pass and checking back before picking out the onrushing Arshavin, who curled home an exquisite shot. The celebration from the players said it all, we have just defeated the best team in the world even though they were still 10 minutes left to play, in which Chezzer still had to block a messi shot, and a Dani Alves shot and Bendtner could have grabbed a third.

In the end it was a great win for us, and like most fans and players pointed out, the battle has been won, but the war remains. Below are the player ratings.

PLAYER RATINGS

Chezzer7
Showed no nerves whatsoever on his Champions league debut. Nothing he could have done about the goal, but stuck to his task well

Eboue6
Rarely troubled as most of the attacks were through the middle and from the left. Culprit at times in the 2nd half

JD7
Had a good game as he and Kozzer shackled the threat of Villa and Pedro.

Kozzer8.5
His best game in an Arsenal shirt so far, wait, we’ve said this before right? Oh well, he was solid as he put himself on the line repeatedly, tackled well and hurried the barca forwards into surrendering possession. *Joint MOTM*

Clichy7
Played David Villa onside for the goal, after that he was great throughout and his assist for the opener more than made up for his error

Wilshere9
This lad, he is just way to special and too good to be true. In the midst of Fifa’s1-2-3(Messi,Xavi,Iniesta) he more than held his own and proved he’s ready and able to mix it with the big boys. 10 out of 11 passes completed with a 91% success rate. What more could you ask for? A goal maybe?? *Joint MOTM*

Song5
Early booking didn’t help his cause and his rash play and getting caught out of position almost cost us dearly. On another day he could have gotten sent off. Hooked off when we needed a goal.

Fabregas8
Showed what he can do in the first 10 minutes and then he fizzled out, but came alive in the second half and he had a hand in the winner. Calmed the nerves of his team when tempers seemed to boil over. Sign of a good leader.

Walcott7
Not involved as much as he would have loved to be but when given the ball, kept the barca defence pegged back.

Nasri8
Slow start, strong finish. He ended the game on a high, after he moved to a more central position, his pace took him past the Barca defence and his pass for Arshavin was top notch.

RVP8
Profligate in the first five minutes as he alone squandered three chances but his goal was nothing short of a player riding a confidence wave. Good show from the dutchman.

SUBS

Arshavin7
Changed the outcome of the game. Much maligned, booed this season, called lazy but proved Arsenal’s saviour on the night. Beautiful goal as he had 3 bodies in front of him but still managed to pick his spot and score

Nikky B5

Its not over yet but we have the advantage, knowing barca would be without their first team Centre backs and we should have a complete team barring any injuries is a good sign. But we’ll need a disciplined display if we’re to oust them from the tournament. Till then let’s just savour the moment. Up next for us is Lleyton orient in the FA Cup 5th round. Mauling?

From wherever you’re reading, have a fantastic day

Escobar

Your thoughts?

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Arsenal Vs Barcelona : Match Preview

The Champions league resumes with the knockout stage that sees us pitted against the best team in the world according to popular and widespread beliefs, Barcelona. But are they really that mighty? On paper and in La Liga they are, but we all know the champions league is a different ball game entirely.

No point crying over spilt milk as we could have avoided this fixture at this stage if only we had topped our group, but as Le Boss is always quick to point out “To be the best, you gotta beat the best”. I love our coach, if only I shared his enthusiasm at times.

Looking to banish memories of last years deflating loss and eventual exit at their hands the lads are rearing to go and confidence within the camp can’t be any higher and as if that’s not enough good news, we only have one major absentee through injury and that’s TV5. After disposing of Wolves without hitting top gear and watching Barca held by a brave Sporting Gijon side, you’d fancy our chances especially with Puyol set to miss the first leg.

When we were drawn against the Catalans last season, I stood alone in saying we won’t lose at the Emirates no matter the situation and final outcome and I’m glad to report that this season am not alone with those thoughts. For some reason, gooners worldwide are calm about this tie and I’ll tell you why.

    For starters, we’re not missing that many players and we don’t have anyone carrying knocks at the moment. Last season, we had Rvp out injured Fab and Arsh both half fit etc

    The team is stronger than it was at this stage last year and the emergence of key players like Jack wilshere, Samir Nasri and Johan Djourou has provided the fans with some cheer.

    If you think Messi is in form then RVP is form, banging in goals with his head, left leg and right leg.

I’ll get back to the 101 reasons why we can beat Barca but for now let’s look at team news ahead of the show down. Le Boss is most likely to stick to the same team that defeated Wolves at the weekend with the only real headache is whether to start Nasri(who has recovered from the hamstring injury earlier than expected) or play him from the bench. One enforced changed is the introduction of Eboue for Sagna with the latter suspended from the group stages. A healthy Arsenal squad will beat any team in the world any day to me.

Much attention has been paid to Paul Merson’s comments about the Arsenal players that would make the Barca team. I don’t have the exact comment but he implied that only Cesc, Nasri and RVP would enter the current Barca squad…….. as substitutes. Imagine that??? What rubbish. Is he trying to say Busquets is better than Song or Wilshere, or Maxwell and Adriano better than Clichy, or the trio of Iniesta-Xavi-Pedro beats that of Cesc-Nasri-Theo? In my own books, this is what a combined team of Arse-Barca would look like today and am sure most of you would agree.

    Valdes

    Alves Vermaelen Puyol Clichy

    Fabregas Song Xavi

    Messi RVP Villa

The bench would definately have more Arsenal players than Barca, a different formation would see Nasri and or Iniesta in the line up. But the matter on hand is how to stop barca, or how to make sure our game surpasses theirs. We need to take the game to them early, and focus on our own game rather than on individual battles, keeping possession for long spells during the game is also essential. This would make Barca chase the ball which they aren’t used to and we could capitalise on that. But this is easier said than done. Xavi would be looking to do what he does best and so too will Messi, but if we can keep one quiet then I foresee an advantage.

Personally I’d love to see Wilshere stick to Messi throughout the game, not necessarily as a man marking strategy but just to harry him each time he touches the ball, kinda like Tiote did Fabregas in the 2nd half of the 4-4 game at the Emirates. No matter the team that is sent out there, I expect nothing less than 100% from them, my only worry is the fact that Eboue gets to start, let’s just pray Barca continue their habit of repeatedly attacking from the right.

We will cause them problems as I expect Alves’ attacking instincts to be curbed and Pique won’t have it easy against the Red hot RVP, and with Wilshere and Song enforcing behind Fabregas our attacks would be devastating. Even they would need to be careful as to how they attack us knowing they have full backs not known for their defensive strengths and Walcott agaisnt Maxwell is already giving me goose pimples. Our defence needs to be on their toes, they’re used to playing against physical strikers and winning aerial balls and this might pose a problem as Barca forwards don’t require any of that and like to let their feet(which by the way are some of the quickest in world football) do the damage.

Irrespective of what happens come the end of 90 mins, football would be the winner as both teams have mastered the art of entertainment, winning or losing they’re always pleasing to watch and let’s hope we’re the one’s with the loudest noise come end of the game. I repeat I don’t see us losing at the Emirates, it won’t happen.

Possible Formation : Chezzer-Eboue-Kozzer-JD-Clichy-Song-Wilshere-Fabregas-Walcott-Arshavin-RVP.

Your thoughts?

Escobar

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