As expected, Arsenal didn’t survive the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. As in the year before, Lionel Messi and his friends mark the end of the road for the gunners.
Depsite all reports, the gunners had van Persie and Fabregas at their disposal. However, neither one could make an impact on Arsenal’s game, at least not on the positive side. In the 56th minute, van Persie collected his second yellow of the the game and was consequently sent off. Ten Gunners had no chance to turn the game around.
Wenger’s tactic was standing deep and trying to stop Barca before the box. While this paid off until the 47th minute (5 minutes were added in the first half), it didn’t give Arsenal a chance to set up some own opportunities to score. Barcelona’s goalie Valdez had a very quite first half. With a 1-0 at half time, the Gunners had to do more in the second half. They tried, without being a force they scored with great help of Busquets, who beat Valdez with a header in the 52nd. After van Persie was sent off, Arsenal had no chance and Xavi and Messi scored for the final 3-1.
Arsene Wenger has to ask himself about his strategy for this game. Defending with everything you have didn’t help many against Barca. There was no effort at all visible to start any promissing attacks against the Spanish. The idea was to disrupt Barca’s efforts and then keep the ball. While the first part worked for the most part in the first half, the second part didn’t work at all and put the gunners in lots of trouble. Rather than play the ball quick into Barca’s half, they tried to hold the ball with short passes. Clearly not the right way, against the best squad in the world.
For Arsenal, the second opportunity for silverware went south. Arsenal is still in the FA Cup and has a shot for the Premier League championshsip. There is, however, a great chance that the gunners end the season empty handed again.