Arsenal’s consistent inconsistency could be their downfall against Barcelona

Andrei Arshavin might be the key against BarcelonaFollowing Arsenal’s poor show at Wembley last weekend, a day that will be long remembered by Birmingham City fans, it will suffice to say that serious questions were being asked of not only Arsenal’s goalkeeper, but the team as a whole. Without a doubt, Arsenal were and still are the better team of the two – demonstrated by their respective current places in the league (2nd and 18th), but one question must be answered before Arsenal’s key game tomorrow against Barcelona, What is it that made the Gunners come undone?

In years gone by, Arsenal were seen as a force to be feared. The 2003-4 season, which saw them play for 49 games unbeaten, including all of their premier league games, was Arsenal at their pinnacle of success. The team was dubbed “The Invincibles”, but a steady decline made the squad drop from Heroes to Zeroes, encapsulated by a memorable defeat at the Stade de France in 2006. Where a game that looked to be under the control of the North London outfit was thrown away in a bitter 2-1 defeat to Barcelona.

Following this defeat the Gunners have not won any silverware, their last trophy being the FA cup in 2005. Despite in the meantime consistently reaching the final four of most major competitions, Arsenal have only reached one cup final – the league cup in 2007, only to lose to Chelsea.

Losing all time top scorer Henry to, yes you’ve guessed it, Barcelona, now seems to pale in comparison to Arsenal’s current squad. The signings of van Persie, Fabregas and Arshavin are renowned worldwide for creating flowing football that justly deserves the title “The beautiful game”.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, these players seem to be unable to decide when they need to play football and when not too. A glimmer of this shone through at the Carling Cup Final, where an inch perfect cross by Arshavin was immaculately tucked away by van Persie with the finesse of an acrobat. Similarly, why draw with Leyton Orient, albeit by a piece of magic, when you can put them in their place with a 5-0 drubbing? The answer is simple, Arsenal can no longer conjure the consistency.

Arshavin, for example, can score 4 goals, each of which oozes class and brilliance, against Liverpool (a team that are by no means easy to beat). However, in other games such as the Carling Cup Semi Finals he was largely ineffectual. A disappointing performance in the first leg was forgotten after his two assists in the return fixture, but a player of his calibre is capable of better. Furthermore, as a result of his spectacular Carling Cup goal, van Persie is now a doubt for the Barcelona game despite a late fitness test.

If this is the case, a heavy responsibility rests on the Little Russian’s shoulders. His form will govern the outcome of the game, as it defined the previous fixture between the two teams. Wenger must bring out the best of him, or the Nou camp will be their graveyard.

Free Bet