Can Arsenal stop Barcelona?
Posted by Aaron C-Reid | Published on February 21, 2016
It may seem like a stupid question. You may think: an inconsistent Arsenal side beating the best team in the world? No chance, surely. As unlikely as it seems there is definitely a chance that the Gunners can pull off the seemingly impossible. I will give some reasons why they could win and some why they won’t.
Mesut Özil. Barcelona might have a team of superstars but Arsenal have one of the most inform superstars in the world on their books. With 6 goals and 17 assist in all competitions the German international has been in scintillating form, picking apart teams with his sublime passing and incredible vision. He appears to see passes that nobody else does, creating 116 chances. That is 3.87 per game. An unbelievable stat. If Arsenal are going to pull off a miraculous victory Özil will have to be at his best. Arsenal won’t have the lion’s share of possession so the German needs to make the most of the short amount of time he has the ball. If he shows up in this game it will be a huge boost to Arsenal’s chances of coming out of this tie on top.
Messi, Suarez and Neymar. It may seem obvious to mention the best attack of all time, but it is obvious for a reason. With 82 goals between them it will be an almost impossible task to stop them. As Per Mertesacker will be starting in the centre of Arsenal’s defence, many will think “MSN” will have a field day and it is hard to disagree with that. The deadly trio will all need to all have an off day, which is highly unlikely. It is almost guaranteed that one of the three will grab a goal.
Barcelona’s defensive frailties. Barcelona only conceded 4 goals in the group stage, compared to Arsenal’s 10. However, that doesn’t mean the Catalans don’t have their weaknesses at the back. If Arsenal want to have any chance of wining they will have to utilise the pace they possess. Arsene Wenger will need to mix up his tactics and deploy the same strategy they used to beat Bayern Munich earlier in the season. They need to play on the break and play Theo Walcott or Danny Welbeck up front. As Barcelona will have most of the ball, their defence will play a high line, allowing Arsenal to use their pace in behind.
Arsenal’s poor finishing. With 70 shots in their last three home games, Arsenal have only scored 2 goals. Against the European Champions, they won’t have that many shots so they will need to take every chance they get. With Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez all missing golden chances it seems even unlikelier that they will score against Barcelona if they can’t score against Hull.
Although it seems highly improbable I think that Arsenal could pull off the spectacular and win, at the Emirates. If they can absorb Barcelona’s attacks and counter quickly I can see them winning narrowly. Prediction – 2-1 Arsenal
What are your thoughts?