Daily Archives: February 17, 2011

Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona: Arsenal turn it around

“Great goals from Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin gave Arsenal their first-ever victory over Barcelona.
Arsene Wenger was able to welcome back Samir Nasri from injury on the left. The rest of the side was as expected. Pep Guardiola also named the predicted side, with Eric Abidal in Carles Puyol’s place, and Maxwell at left-back. Crucially, Arsenal made a good start without the ball. Having been battered in the first ten minutes in this fixture last season, there was a much better attitude without the ball from the beginning this time around. The pressure on Barcelona’s midfield meant Arsenal forced Barcelona to give the ball away after 16 seconds, and though the away side had spells of clear dominance, they didn’t enjoy the ludicrous level of control they exerted a year ago.” Zonal Marking

Arsenal 2 – 1 Barcelona
“Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin struck as Arsenal staged a brilliant late comeback to claim a 2-1 win and give themselves a real chance of progressing in the Champions League. David Villa fired Barcelona, hailed by Arsene Wenger as the world’s best team, ahead in the first half after combining with Lionel Messi. But their superiority faded after the break when Arsenal took control, with Van Persie starting the comeback in the 79th minute before Andrey Arshavin smashed home a superb winner.” ESPN

Més Que un Hipster
“Of all the Guardian’s football writers, Barney Ronay is my favorite. His writing is raffish and superbly intimate. His is the voice of an older brother come home from college to tell you glib and exaggerated tales of the secret lives of girls, why Coldplay is insufferable, and why your parents are all too bourgeois. Like a protagonist in a Nick Hornby novel, Ronay chooses his words carefully even when he makes a mess of things. I feel the same way about reading Christopher Hitchens, whose endlessly quotable and cutting prose is substantiated by trenchant observations about the crassness of some seemingly unassailable public figure. For Hitchens even Mother Teresa is fair game.” Run of Play

Arsenal 2 Barcelona 1: match report
“Lightning rarely strikes once against Barcelona. Here it struck twice. One-nil down to the best team on the planet, struggling to see the ball, let alone the goal, Arsenal responded in sensational style, scoring twice in five minutes late on. This was a turnaround born of resilience, a victory rooted in character. Arsène Wenger made some tactical tweaks, setting Barcelona new tests with the introduction of Andrei Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner, but what happened between the 78th and 83rd minutes stemmed from a simple refusal to surrender.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Arsène Wenger promises Arsenal will ‘go for it’ in Barcelona second leg
“Arsène Wenger believes a vital psychological barrier has been breached with the defeat of Barcelona. Wenger, who will take his Arsenal team to the Catalan capital next month with a 2-1 lead, said: “We are not favourites. We believe we have a chance. Barcelona are still favourites and we know tonight that we can beat them – which we did not know last year.” Guardian

Modern football reaches a pantheon as Arsenal prevails in attack vs attack
“This was a match where every detailed seemed to matter just that bit more. Every pass was stressed. Every shot was scrutinised. Every contested challenge, dribble and interception was crucial. Every bounce of Lionel Messi’s hair. The timing of Theo Walcott’s runs. Refereeing decisions. Pep Guardiola’s catwalk struts down the touchline. Every unscrewing of Arsene Wenger’s bottle cap. Every inch Victor Valdes left exposed at his near post. Every substitution. Each moment of ascendancy had to be taken. Those were the margins and fortunately enough, a huge dose of Lady Luck went Arsenal’s way also.” Arsenal Column

We did it to ourselves, we did. And that’s why this really hurts: Arsenal 2, FCB 1
“If Barça Nation was a nail-biting, hair-pulling, edge-of-its-seat sitting bunch before this match even kicked off, well, now we’re collectively curled up in a ball of self-loathing. And rightfully so. Because, for all Arsenal’s determination – and let’s take the hats off our rapidly balding heads and salute them for wanting the match more than us – this was a mostly self-inflicted wound.” The Offside

Paris Saint-Germain’s superstar slumps again

“For Paris Saint-Germain, it is a most unwelcome case of déjà-vu. Their star player, Nenê, appears to have run out of steam at the season’s half-way point. Just as he did last year. A €5.5 million (£4.6m) signing from Monaco last summer, Nenê took to life at the Parc des Princes as if his whole career had been building towards it. Having netted on his league debut against Saint-Etienne, he scored the only goal in the Europa League victory at Sevilla and claimed a magnificent late winner in the league game at Valenciennes. Nenê was then Marseille’s chief tormentor in November, teeing up the winning goal for Guillaume Hoarau with a sublime scooped pass over the champions’ defence that even the despondent OM fans would have admired.” WSC

Valencia 1-1 Schalke: two left wing crosses

“An open game and some wasteful finishing resulted in a stalemate at the Mestalla. Unai Emery made surprises in his team selection, deciding to leave out his true wide players in favour of a very fluid 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3 system. Aritz Aduriz and Roberto Soldado both started. Felix Magath’s selection was more predictable, it was the usual 4-4-2 / 4-2-2-2, with Raul dropping off Klaas-Jan Huntelaar upfront. Valencia started on top. They made use of having two strikers on the pitch (something they’re not always used to) by constantly sending longish, straight balls over the top of the defence – not necessarily for the two strikers to run onto and get through on goal, but to bring down and control after making diagonal runs. Zonal Marking