Frustrating Arsenal Gift Barcelona An Easy Victory (w/ Player Ratings)

Barcelona (4) – (1) Arsenal
Bendtner (18′)
Champions League Quarter Final (2nd Leg)
Camp Nou, Barcelona

What a frustrating game to watch.

Despite Arsenal missing players Van Persie, Gallas, Fabregas, Campbell, Song, Arshavin and Djourou – essentially half a team – they were in this tie.

After a solid opening 18 minutes, Arsenal were defensively disciplined and Barcelona found it difficult to make any clear opportunities, with the only real effort of note a Lionel Messi shot from outside the area that Almunia saved comfortably enough.

And the focused display was rewarded when Abou Diaby won the ball on the halfway line, played in Walcott with a perfectly timed ball and he played in Bendtner. The pass wasn’t the best but the Great Dane managed to get an effort on target which was saved by Valdes, but Bendtner recovered excellently and scored the opening goal.

Advantage Arsenal!

But then, Arsenal literally self-destructed and gifted Barcelona an easy ride.

The back pages of tomorrow’s newspapers and every football website will be raving about Lionel Messi being a player who is from another planet. The best player in the world who annihilated Arsenal.

But the sad fact of the matter was Messi wasn’t phenomenal against us. Arsenal gift-wrapped his 4 goals with amateurish and naive defensive mistakes.

Don’t get me wrong, Messi is an incredible talent. And for me, he could be the greatest the game has ever seen. But he didn’t have to get out of second gear to score his goals. He didn’t score from a piece of magic, or some sensational dribble. His goals were straightforward and put on a plate for him.

Arsenal defensively were shambolic and collapsed as soon as Bendtner gave us the lead.

And that is the most frustrating thing of all. We were solid and focused for 20 minutes but were woeful for the rest of the game. The second half was painful to watch as Barcelona cruised to victory without breaking a sweat.

Once Bendtner gave us the lead, we collapsed. Diaby was absolutely shocking again, and had a glorious chance to release Walcott but instead lost the ball, from which Barcelona equalised. And even then we didn’t deal with the goal very well.

Diaby lost the ball, Barcelona broke and a cross was played into the box, only for the geriatric Mikael Silvestre to obviously not realise the ball was near him and he poked it to Messi, the worlds most dangerous player, to have a free shot right in front of the goal. Great defending there.
So that was gift number one.

After failing to even hold onto the lead for 5 minutes, the collapse continued as Arsenal kept losing possession cheaply and giving Barcelona exactly what they wanted – lots of the ball. The sad thing was for all of Barcelona’s high intensity pressing game, they didn’t have to work hard to get the ball back, we gifted it to them.

And on 37 minutes Messi scored again.

A cross from Abidal from the left was well cut out by Vermaelen, but Pedro pushed the ball back to Messi who had all the time in the world to lash a shot passed the stranded Almunia.

Barcelona had come back without even having to break a sweat.

Then we conceded the customary “break away” goal as Messi ran free and had the time to chip the ball over Almunia. 3-1 to Barcelona and memories of Rooney and Drogba scoring break away goals against us in the league.

Half time came and I still believed that we could nick the couple of goals that would see us through. That was based on the belief that we couldn’t play as badly as we did in the second part of the first half.

But Barcelona had learnt their lesson from the first leg and played much deeper and kept the ball away from us. Possession is nine tenths of the law and we couldn’t get the ball. And unfortunately, on the rare occasions that we did win the ball, we wasted it. It was frustrating to watch as this Arsenal team couldn’t string 3 passes together.

It was a case of having the ball in decent areas of the pitch but not doing anything with it. Instead of releasing a fellow player or moving the ball far to often players like Nasri and Diaby would dwell on the ball and inevitably lose it after being closed down by 3 Barcelona players.

I cannot count how many times Diaby lost the ball tonight.

We had the game in our hands, and despite missing numerous first team players we still fielded a team that could have progressed tonight. Arsene Wenger called for 120% effort, intelligence and commitment and if we had that then we could have got something from the game. But we didn’t release Theo anywhere near as he should have, lost possession far to easily and didn’t use the ball well at all. This is not the first time I’ve seen Theo in the team and no-one seems to pass to him, do some of the players have a problem with him? Because when I watch it seems like it.

It doesn’t take 120% intelligence to work out Barcelona’s weakness. Theo Walcott ran them ragged in the first leg and he was the one who set-up the opening goal tonight. Why didn’t we use him more after that?!
And I have to mention the officials, they were utterly shite.

The booking for Denilson when he clearly won the ball (about 20 seconds before he actually made contact with Messi) was unbelievable. Most of the decisions he made were shocking and the real nail in the coffin was the offside decision against Bendtner when Arsenal were 1-0 up. If that wasn’t given then it could have been a completely different game.

Player Ratings

Manual Almunia: 7/10
Badly exposed for all of Messi’s goals so you couldn’t blame him for those.

Bacary Sagna: 7/10
Kept Pedro and Bojan quiet and supported the attack well.

Thomas Vermaelen: 7/10
Did well under the circumstances, considering he was doing two jobs at the back alongside Silvestre. Could see the frustration on his face at the performance around him and you couldn’t blame him.

Mikael Silvestre: 4/10
Never seen him play well for Arsenal, and was asking myself throughout the game why the hell he is at Arsenal. Red nose couldn’t wait to get rid of him so why would we want him? Shocking mistake for Barcelona’s first goal, and terrible overall. I realise he’s defensive cover but when you’re behind an ageing Sol Campbell and midfielder Alex Song in the pecking order you wonder why we can’t promote a youth talent into the squad.

Gael Clichy: 8/10
One of the few plus points tonight. Determined, quick, ran for every ball and made some vital interceptions. Most of our attacking play went through him on the left hand side. On 75 minutes, he ran 60 yards up the field after winning the ball and instead of passing took a pop shot from 25 yards which flew well over. And you know what, you couldn’t blame him – why pass to team mates when they do nothing with the ball?

Abou Diaby: 5/10
The Walcott pass was the only positive thing he did. After that, constantly lost the ball, strolled around the pitch and looked completely lost. He either has a fantastic game or just disappears. Unfortunately tonight it was the latter.

Denilson: 8/10
Did well considering, won the ball back in vital areas and was one of the few players who actually completed a pass. Made a fantastic tackle on Messi in he first half only to be booked.

Samir Nasri: 6/10
Couldn’t get into the game and looked dead in all honesty. Involved in a rough tackle from Milito in the first 15 minutes and seemed to struggle after. Just didn’t have enough of the ball to influence the game.

Tomas Rosicky: 6/10
Offered nothing and looked unfit. Had a decent chance in the second half but blew his shot well over the bar. Tracked back well and helped Clichy but couldn’t get forward and influence the game.

Theo Walcott: 7/10
The service wasn’t there for him. He was the outlet ball for the team but no-one gave him a decent ball to chase after the one for the first goal, so rendered hugely ineffective for the majority of the game.

Nicklas Bendtner: 8/10
Did excellently for his first goal but like Theo was let down from the lack of service from midfield. Had one chance tonight and he took it, so you couldn’t ask anymore from him.


34 thoughts on “Frustrating Arsenal Gift Barcelona An Easy Victory (w/ Player Ratings)

  1. Very generous ratings – I would divide most of them by 2. There was only one team in the game tonight, and it wasn’t Arsenal.

  2. totally unfair on sylvestre, and no i do not rate him. the ball was deflected to him and it cannoned out. first goal not his fault. 2nd goal diaby ball watching after messi laid it off, messi ran into area, diaby watched him. third, ridiculous lunge for header by vermy. 4th, stupid eboue not looking across line. all well taken goals, all avoidable.
    diaby appalling, and must be his last season. rosicky you’re right did not look fit. nor nasri after the knock. more disappointed about him than anyone. clichy superb. if only bendtner had a first touch.
    we could have done it, but not with half that team.

  3. Spot on assesment. Diaby does my head in. I dont want to get on his case but he frustrates the hell out of me. Densilson is the same but to his credit, I thought he did well tonight. One day both these players will find some form and consistancy at the same time. If by some miracle we got past FCB tonight, you just know ‘The Special Twat’ would have bored everyone to death with his tactics in the semi so maybe it’s a blessing……..i’m clutching at straws now.

  4. after every bad match we critisised the platers as if we dont know that our players are not world class and we all want them to perform with world class players, it will always be like this until we have world class players in all department of the field

  5. im sick of having mediocre players and being told about record profits FOUR SUPER SUMMER SIGNINGS or wenger must be shown door upstairs not out. he has too much power!!!!!

  6. Footballing retards with a complete clueless manager who will never again win a title worth winning……..get rid.

  7. I don’t see how you can put such blame on Silvestre. Is he a world beater? No. Was he at fault tonight? No more than anyone else. Messi made the difference and I agree with silent stan: if only Bendtner had a worldclass first touch. Things could have been different, then. We missed 4-5 1st-team regulars, including our captain, and were playing a Messi in the form of his life and a great, great Barcelona team. The team did very well but were just not good enough.

    Having said that, if this year isn’t, then surely next year is the last chance for this team and Wenger’s experiment. We have the stadium, the finances are in order, there are, we are told, funds for transfers, so Mr. Wenger, no more cheap deals, no more pride, no more stubborness, no more excuses: trophy or end of.

  8. Wenger and the staff have nursed him for 2 seasons and then he give us such a painfully inept performance when it really matters,no heart no desire no talent….unforgiveable !!!

  9. We were just decimated by injuries and our squad is much, much, much too thin to compete with the best when that happens. Neither Silvestre nor Campbell are serious options at this level. Almunia is a reserve keeper at Premier League level or first choice for a Championship side. Nasri, Rosicky, Walcott, Eboue, Diaby, Bendtner and Denilson are only good enough to be squad players for Arsenal. We are once again punching above our weight in the Premier League and only just good enough for the last 8 in Europe.

  10. Sad to say this but…we are just not good enough. I was shocked by the gulf in class between the two sides over both legs. Shocked. Barcelona is the best team in Europe regardless of what happens against Inter, as Inter’s only pluasible strategy will be to contain and frustrate.

    Nevertheless, apart form the last 20 minutes in the Emirates, this was not a contest. And herein lies the bitter truth for all Arsenal fans. Second best in every department.

    Wenger does have questions to answer. If injuries are a perennial concern, then we should have a deep team. One can olny wonder at the folly of purchasing an aging (though capable) defender in the transfer window when Wenger was aware that he might not be able to play frequently.

    So many questions. Another trophyless season beckons.

  11. Summer Sale Bargain Basement sale at Arsenal FC!

    A Diaby
    T. Rosicky
    P. Senderos
    M. Silvestre
    M. Alumnia
    L. Fabianski

    Also for sale:

    A. Wenger

    Please Real Madrid, buy Wenger at a cut rate price because then he can bring all his f**king French past-it players in which he puts country before his club to your Mob of a Club!

    Thanks for looking!

    Last chance Saloon before we send them off to the Landfill!

  12. Yep, very frustrating. We had them rattled but were too naive to build on that. Just no leaders on the pitch, especially for the second half. We really needed Cesc. Shouldn’t surprise us. This team was built around Cesc and RvP. Was Rosicky still feeling Henry’s tackle? Walcott doesn’t put himself in the right position to receive the ball and have options. He is not mobile enough, ironically. He’s too easy to close down against the touchline. That’s why they don’t pass to him – he’s a black hole. (Although what was Diaby thinking the ONE TIME it was the right pass?!)

    Back to the Premier league and our comfort zone. I really hope Ramsey doesn’t do an Eduardo. We need heroes in the years to come. Diaby can be. He won the ball a lot! But no one was mature enough to handle the pressing apart from Denilson and Nasri, who at least has the trickery. Clichy did well. Bendtner is good, but not 1/4 final of the Champion’s League good. Then again neither was Bojan anything special, nor Pedro, nor Berbatov.

    The first two goals were lucky bounces for them, falling to the most composed finisher in the world (but pressure usually tells in the end and meant our defenders were at sixes and sevens). The third was a header won against Messi, only for them to get the second ball (because they play the ball into areas where they have numbers and think very quickly about which defenders are out of position) and the ball is pinged into our half with Messi running on to it. Game over.

    Still, frustrating as we looked closer to making a game of it than the scoreline suggests. I don’t buy it that Barca didn’t get out of second gear. At the same time though I don’t think that if we’d gone up 2-0 they wouldn’t have come back into it or if we’d pulled back to 3-3 (but frustrating that we never got there).

  13. It was a risky decision to start with Walcott as opposed to Eboue. Walcott needs to improve significantly if he wants to play for the first team otherwise he should leave the club. Every Arsenal player gave 110% effort apart from Walcott and make-shift defender Silvester. Walcott was the only player not pressing down and just standing idle by touching the line of the field expecting the ball to come to him. Furthermore, he lacks passionate wearing Arsenal shirt and energy – what a lacklustre performance.

    Walcott is CRAP and Arsene Wenger should get rid of him. Well-played Nasri and Diaby!

  14. It was billed as a contest between the two European teams that embrace the beautiful game. The sad fact is though is that we’re not in Barcelona’s league. We’re worlds apart.

    And what’s worse, is that we were close to winning the league and doing something positive in the Champions League, but our squad is too thin. 1 or 2 extra players last summer would have made all the difference! Stubborn Wenger has cost us the league – a couple of decent signings and we would be 4/5 points better off, and that would currently be top of the league!

  15. Goons with guns, you sound like a spurs fan – I think I’d prefer to put you in the landfill. But thanks for your retarded opinion anyway.

  16. Cant stand these plastic fans who get on our back the minute we lose a game. Bet your the ones who walk off sulking during a sunday league and refuse to play because your team is losing. Why dont you try supporting your team after they lose against one of the greatest sides ever to grace this planet with only half their starting line up, rather than immediately calling for heads. You are no supporters and you have no place following a club like Arsenal! Learn to be the solution, not the problem,

  17. Wenger is a fucking idiot.

    It makes me sick to see him and his poodles sucking up to Messi after they laid 4 goals out for him on a silver platter. This way they can avoid facing the fact that the Arsenal team today with or without missing players is shite compared the Invincibles.

    Buy a few reinforcements? Who us? Nah. We will sign Silvestre and Sol. Yeah, that will solve our defensive problems. On a scale of good-bad, Silvestre is worse than Messi is good. Go figure. We never need to sign anyone but we never win shite. Its just like watching spuds except they have won more stuff than us recently.

    I tell you what, I am so sick of complacent gooners that I almost wish the scum would beat us in 2 weeks time so that these fools will wake up from their slumber.

    Yeah, I said it. What?! What?! I didn’t think so!

  18. Why the bitching and moaning about selling players right now? Only season ticket holders have any right to have a go like that and even they do so at the risk of making the situation worse.

    This tie would have told AW and Ivan Gazidis exactly what they needed to know if they want to win the Champion’s League in the next five years. In the first place they need a domestic trophy soon to start getting the right winning mentality. So players need to be sold and bought, of course. Namely, AW has got to unearth or break the bank for our candidate for player of the year. Henry has not been replaced. But it’s a club in the real world and not Football Manager. Barca had its lean years and now they are in 4 of the last 5 semi-finals, and beat ManU pretty easily last year, which is actually evidence in favour of Arsene’s slow and steady policy. But Barca grew into their current dominance in a Spanish league that had no Chelsea or ManU to contend with – just look at their league table and remember that Real was only a sporadic threat to their dominance (under Capello). For us, now it seems that both Manure and Chelski are bordering on a phase of rebuilding. They face quite a bit of instability over the next two to three years. Meanwhile, there are a few teams building toward something with room to improve and the money and savvy to do it — Arsenal and Tottenham, believe it or not, Man City and Aston Villa. I absolutely trust Wenger to get the better of these teams over the next few years and get us a domestic trophy, then (with him or his successor) target the Champion’s League with a squad with an average age of 27-28, not 22-23.

    There are five games to go. Yes this group are overachieving; yes some of them will be sold or in the reserves next year. I hate the lack of silverware but I am thrilled our season ain’t over yet and it’s time to pull together and beat Tottenham without Cesc or Arshavin. But win or lose we are still in line for another crack at the Champion’s League next season. And we’ll have a bigger and better squad you can be sure.

  19. Even George Graham won stuff in Europe – with a smaller budget. Wenger ‘s grade is a big fat FAIL.

  20. Outclassed by a better team with a better squad and with better players… As much as everyone thinks we have impro ed this year, if it weren’t for Chelsea and machester united having an awful season we would be exactly where we would last year… Put simply we have run out of excuses and our pass and move exciting football is done and dusted as for all our co plaining about teAms kcking us we got spanked by a team who does what we do only better… None of our players seem likes they believe they could it tonight and it’s no wonder why, our squad is pretty poor… Withouth cesc and song we really are a poor side in top level company, as for arsh and gallas without wong and fanregad gallas does t matter, and Arsh has been pretty
    much awful all year… We’ve been found out against a team who is better at everything than us, but what’s more is we haven’t given a decent account of ourselves o er the two legs which does bother me more than the manner in which we lost…

  21. I loved the Invincibles but they were a domestic success, and only partly. Even they lost to Bolton (routinely) and Leeds (at home) to gift the title to ManU the previous season. They also allowed themselves to be kicked out of matches like the FA cup semi final and the Mike Riley inspired disaster at OT.

    The Invincibles failed utterly in Europe. Bergkamp didn’t even travel. Understood historically, they bottled a UEFA cup against Galatassary, they lost to headers by John Carew, they lost routinely to teams like Barca, Valencia, Fiorentina, and Dinamo Kiev. They even lost to Chelsea for the first time in 18 years in a Champion’s League quarterfinal you muppet. (sorry, but if you don’t know that the knock on Arsenal for those years was their relative mental fragility on the big stage, then you are probably only 15)

    The only Wenger team with total balls in Europe was the 2005-6 vintage, who were a domestic disaster. Sadly, that team had a lot of experience and characters mixed with youth that knew no fear. Perfect for cup football. And Henry – the face of the Invincibles – still bottled two chances to put the tie away before Larsson even came on the pitch. Now we are about stuck in the middle of that mix – not old enough and not young enough. Seasoned internationals like Eduardo and Rosicky haven’t given us the arrogance of an elite team, for obvious reasons.

  22. George Graham didn’t win the Champion’s League!! He won the same cup that Chelsea have won twice and Tottenham once. And Manchester City and Everton and West Ham and Rangers. Arsene has made the club bigger than that history, but not big enough to win Big Ears. Without Arsene we may well drop right down to that level again. But you might get your hands on a trophy then. Then again, you might not.

  23. We’ve not won a single Champion League from the day Arsene joined us in 1996. 14 solid years, problem lies with the Manager than anything else.
    We’re a champion trading club, keep trading our players for tons of money over these 14 years.

    Expect the expected, Premier League also over next week.

  24. It’s a bit ridiculous saying Arsene’s had 14 years to win the Champions League! He’s laid the foundations of the club and made sure we’re one of the Top 4 teams in the country, and consistently in the CL. We were literally like a Spurs or Aston Villa when he came to Arsenal, so in that context, he’s done a phenomenal job.

    But the problem Wenger’s had is maintaining that success. Since 1998, and until 2005, he’s either won the league or finished second. Now we know the new stadium has made things incredibly tight for us and we basically have no money to spend, and since 2005 we’ve been ‘close’ to winning things but just haven’t had enough to get over the final hurdle.

    And, unfortunately, that is Arsene Wenger’s fault.

  25. Aw has no one but himself to blame for buying kids.Arsenal have bought the most number of wc promising kids.It aint good enough as the latest mauling by Berca showed.
    I am afraid AW will give his kids meaning buying more of them another season after season to prove their worth
    When will it all end?


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