For a neutral, Arsenal’s recent match against Barcelona was a match to be remembered. The game had everything: terrific misses; heroes and villains; changes in momentum for either side and a last gasp comeback by the home team. Arsenal defeated Barcelona 2-1 but the return leg against the Catalans will be a different test for the Gunners as the Spanish side will be the fans’ favourite at the Nou Camp. But will Arsenal’s defence be able to cope with the La Liga leaders?
During Arsenal’s performance at the Emirates their defence was left helpless to the likes of Messi and Villa due to the naturally attacking nature of the north Londoners. In attack the Gunners have quality, with the likes of Fabregas, Nasri, Arsharvin and Van Persie, which could arguably match the attacking quality of their Spanish rivals. Villa’s goal came from the player beating the offside trap to race in and slot past the outcoming keeper.
However, if Arsenal is going to succeed in Spain, they are going to need to stop the ‘death by 1000 passes’ philosophy that Barca and Spain seem to live by – otherwise the result on March 8th when the two teams meet will be as one sided as Arsenal’s last visit to Spain when Lionel Messi ripped them apart using his skill, finesse and speed.
Arsenal’s defence is not the same as the quality of their attack, and so if Arsenal is to succeed they are going to need cover and protection from the likes of Jack Wilshere and Alex Song, otherwise Arsenal may be run ragged again by the 2009 champions. Moreover, Arsenal have been subjected to recent lapses in concentration by allowing Newcastle to return from 0-4 down at half time to draw 4-4. But notably, Barcelona have also had similar problems by recently drawing to Spanish minnows Sporting Gijon, and so it would seem that either team could be walking away with an easy victory in the Nou Camp in March.
When Arsenal meet Barcelona on the 8th March Arsenal will of course be tested by the likes of Messi, Villa, Iniesta and Xavi but if they keep their concentration and have protection from their midfield, they may have a decent chance against the Spanish giants.