Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona. Classfest.

April 1, 2010 8 Comments by Sian

The night before the match yesterday, I dreamt that Lionel Messi hit me with his car and drove off. After about 30 minutes of play yesterday, I reckon Arsenal must have felt like Barcelona had hit them with their team bus and driven off.

Well, we wanted to see classy football and we got classy football. Pity it was mostly them doing the class. And mostly their feet touching the ball. I’m ashamed to admit that in the first maybe 20 minutes of the match, I was periodically looking at the clock and thinking “Seven minutes gone and still a clean sheet, getting less and less shameful as the minutes tick by…”

Bad Sian, negative Sian! But who can blame me? Barcelona were simply sublime, Arsenal were simply caught in the headlights of the bus, looking like frightened bunnies. In the first half, we were taught a thing or two about brilliant football. Rarely are those boys in red and white out-classed, but for the entirety of the first half, we were second best. I maintain we out-gorge them, however: what a bunch of unfortunate-looking souls!

The fact it was 0-0 at half time was nothing short of a miracle when you consider they had 27 shots on target in the first 45 minutes. OK, I don’t think they had that many, given that they only had 10 in total for the whole game, but it sure felt like it. You know who else will have felt like they were constantly battering the goal? Yeah, MANUEL ALMUNIA. The man everyone was hating on last week. I wish I’d have been slightly more supportive of him in last week’s blog but I didn’t want to be accused of refusing to criticise our players. However, hopefully the ones I had to tell to shut the… errr, heck up on Twitter are eating their words now.

I’m rechristening him Supermanuel Almunia. My dad, who also believes in the boys to the death, made a comment last week about how, although he’s had good matches for us this season, he doesn’t make many brilliant saves. Last night, he said “I love the fella! He makes brilliant saves!” And he did. Without those saves we could have been 3-0 down and looking a lot less likely to make any kind of comeback, never mind one as great as we did.

However, the second half had barely kicked off before Barcelona were pulling their celebration faces and that little corner of the Emirates Stadium was erupting with glee. I don’t know about you, but every time I see this happen, a little part of me dies inside. Ibrahimovich’s little chip in was a silly goal to concede and Supermanuel did make a mistake there. But even superheroes aren’t perfect. (Yes, I’m slightly trying to wind up the Anti-Almers brigade there.)

Maybe I’m not the best person to judge because I always believe that Arsenal will come back, no matter how many goals behind we are, so when Ibrahimovich slotted home his second a little while later (a one-man team, I tell you!), I was merely thinking “OK, so now we will obviously score three. Duh.”

Theo Walcott, who had replaced Sagna in the 66th minute was first to get himself on the scoresheet for the Arse and in an emphatic way too. You have to love this boy. He’s had so much criticism this season, rightly or wrongly, but you can’t help but be pleased for him when he does have a great game. And not only because he sounds so refreshingly clever and non-arseish in his post-match interviews.

Oh by the way, the referee was a card-loving div. That is all.

We were much better in the second half, but still gave the ball away very easily. At the Camp Nou next Tuesday, we can win if we just don’t let them have the ball. Simples. Watch your back, Arsene, me and my ground-breaking tactics are on your tail. It was still a very frustrating 45 minutes but at least we showed up. We began to get the hang of them and they were not allowed to look as good as they had done before half time.

Speaking of looking good, Carles Puyol and the small animal that lives on his head will now miss the return leg after receiving a red card for trapping Cesc’s leg, between his legs. I think. Anyway, he gave us a penalty. Cesc stepped up to score it. The bravery of this boy is beyond me. Valdes went completely the wrong way and it was 2-2. Cesc didn’t look very celebratory but then I guess that’s probably because he’d just been crippled. Seeing Cesc injured is like seeing a baby chick with a broken wing. And no fluff. And with brothers and sisters that don’t want to accept him in to the chick family. It’s horrible.

He remained on the field, as we’d already used all our substitutions with injuries to Arshavin and Gallas, and then the aforementioned exchange of Theo for Sagna. Don’t really know why though. It must have been agony for him, plus Barca were already a man down with the removal of Cousin It Puyol for the penalty incident. But that’s Arsene.

Thierry Henry made an appearance for Barcelona in the last fifteen minutes. He was roundly cheered as he came on and was also given a standing ovation as he left the field at the end. I know plenty of Arsenal fans disagree and say that he was disloyal to the club in leaving, but I will always love this man, now and forever. He was brilliant when he was with us, and not so brilliant now he’s not. Can you ask for anything more than this? If he scores against us in Spain on Tuesday, it will hurt like a hangover. But he will still always be Mr Arsenal for me.

To look at the result in a negative light, Barcelona now have two away goals and then the home advantage in the next leg. As the Arsenal fans appear to have been allocated seats somewhere quite close to Heaven at the Camp Nou, we will really have to get our shouting hats on if we’re to be heard at all, because the crowd were definitely brilliant last night in helping the team make a comeback. We’re also without Cesc and Gallas and, to a lesser extent, Arshavin.

However, to look at this in a positive light, both Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique are now suspended for this tie, which is half their defence gone. We’re on a level score now, so if we can only get one teeny weeny lickle goal and then not let them score, it’s a done deal. Manuel Almunia: your team needs you.

We’re going to the away match on Tuesday and are all going to be feeling sick as parrots before and during the match. If we can show the kind of strength we showed in the face of class-shaped adversity like last night however, I don’t see how we can leave Barcelona feeling anything other than proud of the lads.

Final point to be made is how gigglesome I find other fans’ reactions to Arsenal’s performances in Europe. Namely those of the Tottenham persuasion, as Facebook told me last night. They care so much, it’s hysterical. Living vicariously in Europe must be so frustrating!

COME ON ARSENAL! The world is watching!

8 Comments

  1. Marcus Dysch
    2646 days ago

    He didn’t look too Supermanuel when Ibra lobbed him did he?

    This is a great blog, and, much as it pains me to say it, Arsenal did themselves some credit by coming from behind in the fashion they did, even if it was largely thanks to a piece of individual brilliance from Theo and Spitter’s broken leg giving way.

    But…”We can win if we don’t let them have the ball”? Er, yeah, good luck with that…

    And…”A baby chick with a broken wing”? He didn’t look too much like a baby chick when he was wandering around in his bomber jacket gobbing on people did he?

    Anyway only thing further that I’ll say about Arsenal is that last night showed how far they are from being one of Europe’s superpowers.

    Arsene probably knows this, now only the fans have to work out their club’s true place in the world and all will be well :)

    Reply

    • sianyr
      2646 days ago

      1.) This was my point. He’s still prone to the odd flap, but if he’d not been so brilliant in the first half then that Ibrahimovich chip wouldn’t have even mattered as we’d have been dead and buried before the second half even commenced.
      2.) Spitter… nice try but I think I just about edge you on the immature-nicknames-scale with Cousin It Puyol.
      3.) We know we’re not there yet. We’re on our way.

      Thanks for reading this Marcus, I imagine you hate Arsenal about as much as I hate Chelsea and I have to say, I don’t think I’ll be venturing onto the pages of any Chelsea blogs any time soon! Respect. :)

      Reply

  2. Tricia
    2645 days ago

    Why are European refs card happy?

    Also, I would be one of those fans who don’t think Thierry was disloyal by leaving. It really was for the best. He was past his prime and he knew it, Arsene knew it and I think most of us knew it too.

    Reply

    • sianyr
      2645 days ago

      I don’t know… they see English teams and think we’re going to be big, bad, scary clobberers maybe? Shows how little they know about us!

      With Thierry, I agree. I think he did what he had to do. His performances were on the wane, he wasn’t a very good captain and his behaviour was starting to intimidate the young players (I remember one incident where he hair-dryered Theo in the middle of the match… 17-year-old, new-from-Southampton Theo being yelled at by Thierry Henry!) He left at a good time for both us and him.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

  3. Alan Ranscombe
    2644 days ago

    Well done again, Siany.
    A classy blog – just like its writer (and the team it’s about).

    Reply

    • sianyr
      2643 days ago

      Thanks Farge! xx

      Reply

  4. Rebecca Jill
    2643 days ago

    I totally agree with you about Theo Walcott. I always love his post-match interviews or most any interview he does. He always seems to say the most clever things.

    This is a great summary to a most harrowing game. You captured the highs and lows, the bad hair, why Thierry Henry is Thierry Henry … everything.

    Just on looks alone, Arsenal does win.

    (Side note: I love when I hear girls over here ask who that hot guy is playing for the Seattle Sounders in Major League Soccer, and I get to tell them, “That’s Freddie Ljundberg. He played for Arsenal in England.”)

    Reply

    • sianyr
      2643 days ago

      Thanks for this lovely comment! Some of the men get so pernickety with all the ins and outs of the tactics and the the formation and blah blah blah, I just want to write about how brilliant our boys are!
      Lookswise I suppose Pique isn’t bad, but he’s in my bad books forever after all his “Cesc has to come to Barca” whining.
      And regarding Freddie, I remember about five years ago on holiday in New York, we passed a 30-storey high advert of shirtless Freddie in a Calvin Klein poster and being all: “That’s Freddie! He’s ours!” Not that looks matter. They just help, sometimes. :)

      Reply

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