Barcelona play football as we like it played, Barcelona play football how we try and play it, but they play it better and that’s where we want to be and hopefully in time, will be.
That’s the conclusion I came to after this epic tie, one which everyone wanted to see. There is so much that can be said about the tie. The one regret I have is that, I would have loved to see Arsenal have at least two or three of the six first team players who were out on the field at the Nou Camp. Even with a full strength side, it was always going to be a challenge at the Nou Camp but to go without Gallas, Song, Fabregas, Arshavin and Van Persie it was always going to be a near impossible task. Even Sol Campbell, who was a replacement for Gallas, was out!
Before the game, I was constantly reminding people about past Arsenal performance's in places such as at Anfield in 89, Old Trafford in 02, San Siro in 03, the Bernabeu in 06 and the San Siro again in 08. In all those games, Arsenal was underdogs and produced a superb performance to win the game. This was the spirit I was hoping for at the Nou Camp and in some aspects, it was there.
Arsenal was leading the tie for the first time, even if it was for only two or three minutes. Credit must be given to Nicklas Bendtner because the ball from Walcott was not the best but he managed to get to his feet quickly and score. The other small regret I have is straight after the goal, Diaby got himself in a very good position and just played the wrong ball, and if he had freed Walcott then we were in again.
After this, it was the Messi show and what a player he is. His finishes were fantastic and Almunia did not have a chance. Silvestre will be disappointed because his clearances went straight to the feet of the little magician. Messi is such an amazing player and at the age of 22, has the world at his feet and rightly so.
Guardiola learned his lesson after the first leg and brought a defensive player on for an attacking player early in the second half when Yaya Toure came on for Bojan. This showed us that Barcelona had learned their lessons and after this, the game was quite flat and Barcelona did not want to let Arsenal back into the game.
There is no shame in losing to a team like Barcelona and we at Arsenal say we love the beautiful game and therefore we cannot be angry at this defeat. We can be disappointed and even hurt that we couldn’t score more then 1 at the Nou Camp or win at the Emirates but we must appreciate the style of Barcelona.
Messi was not the only player who deserves a mention. Xavi too was awesome in both legs. Dani Alves at right back is more like a right winger the way he bombs up the right hand side and he adds an important attacking spark to his team and there are others who are an important aspect to this great side.
Let’s focus on our team, Arsenal. There are many positives to be taken from this tie. Being 0-2 down in the first leg and bringing it back to 2-2 was a positive. Going 0-1 up in the second leg was a positive. Despite missing so many key players, Arsenal still gave it a fight and that is something to be proud off. You compare the players we lost to any team, even Barcelona, then that’s a lot to handle. Take the players they had out already and add Xavi and Messi, then it’s a different game.
On the night, certain players showed great fight. I thought Clichy and Diaby were fantastic and really showed the fight. They kept going and were a credit to the club. Denilson, who has had a lot of stick, was not too bad on the night either. Vermaelen tried his hardest along with Sagna and I could go on.
Arsene Wenger is building a project of young players and moulding them into a super team. He is trying to create a unique team spirit and the team has shown that. He is not afraid of getting rid of players, like he did with Adebayor and Toure in the summer and Gallas and Bendtner have shown perhaps he was right. Arsene Wenger has a vision and defeats like these are important in the overall education of the team. There comes a time, when people will say ‘how long can you wait?’ but I do believe its coming.
Another fact is that, Barcelona did not win anything between the years 2000 and 2004. Barcelona had a spell where players like Xavi were maturing and developing and this was the spell where Barcelona created their unique sprit and this was the base in which to build upon.
I am convinced that Arsenal is going the same way although I am biased! I have been following Arsenal home and sometimes away for a number of years and have loved watching the football played. Arsene Wenger is desperate to win, anyone who argues otherwise is wrong.
A lovely moment from the tie was the return of Thierry Henry and it was a nice way to say bye to a personal hero. I have watched Thierry since he arrived here and he still has a place in my heart and I am glad I got the chance to say farewell to him in the first leg at the Emirates. I hope he will return in some capacity some day.
As a passionate Arsenal fan, I am asking all Arsenal fans to get behind the team as the Premiership title is still there to be won. Hopefully Sol Campbell will be fit enough to play in the remaining five games and if he does and arsenal win’s the league then this must be one of the best signings ever surely? Also Andrey Arshavin is due a come back and perhaps the home game to Manchester City could be it and he would be a massive plus too. Manuel Almunia, who had such a good first half in the first leg should be high on confidence too and can have a strong end to the season.
There are many twists and turns to go, starting at White Hart lane. Personally I think this is the best place to go after our exit in the Champions League. This is a place where our fans will show their passion and all the players know the rivalry between the fans and will determined to bounce back. It’s also a very important game for us. We know Spurs want to fight for 4th place and a win for us would mean they must try and take maximum points from their remaining games and we all know who they have got in their remaining games. Perhaps an Arsenal win here and Spurs could end up doing their arch rivals a favour by getting some sort of a result at old Trafford or at the lane against Chelsea. The spirits shown by players like Eboue and Bendtner (who has scored 5 in 4 games this Champions League season) and even Song must be shown by all. These players have been targets for critics but have come back strong and worked as a team and that’s what the whole of Arsenal must do.
Come on you Arsenal.
Ps, if you enjoy what you’re reading, feel free to follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/10akhil