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Beaten At Their Own Game

Arsenal Turn On The Style Against Barca

Posted Feb 22, 2011 by Shaun Edwards

Wenger will be happy

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Champion’s League.  As a teenager, watching the Manchester United side compete against Barcelona and Real Madrid in seven and six goal thrillers all over Europe was one of the most thrilling spectacles I’ve witnessed in football.  Arsenal’s win over Barcelona has convincingly joined that list.

Make no mistake, Barca really are the finest team in world football.  They simply ooze magnificence from every pore, able to swiftly make good players look amateurish.  By no means at full pace against Arsene Wenger’s side, they were able to break apart an admittedly average defence seemingly at will with just a drop of skill and a dash of pace.  Were it not for Lionel Messi’s incredible pair of misses (a very rare off night for the world’s best) they would have been 3-0 up in an hour.

Arsenal (whatever Arsene Wenger says) are not currently a world class team.  Samir Nasri is usually excellent, Jack Wilshere will undoubtedly be a Gunners legend in time and Cesc Fabregas is a great captain.  Aside from that, this was a tale of guts and a team playing over their odds.

Wenger should be commended: his tactics of going all out attack with only ten minutes or so to go paid dividends with Robin van Persie’s exploitation of Valdes’ poor positioning to obtain the equaliser.  The winner came from Andrey Arshavin, and topped off a period of approach play that Barca themselves would have been chuffed with.  The very fact that Arsenal took on Barca at their own game and managed to pull off the win is in itself superb.

Do I think that Arsenal can go to the Nou Camp and win in the return leg?  No.  Like the last Champion’s League second leg between the two, Barcelona will go into fifth gear, and will probably win by a few goals. However, Arsenal can travel to Spain safe in the knowledge that Barca are indeed human, and are susceptible to complacency.

It might not be enough, but you can be sure the Gunners will give it a good go.

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