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Arsenal's pride as Barca beaten

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Phil McNulty | 01:40 UK time, Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Emirates

The group of Arsenal fans gathered in Holborn station gazed up at a giant screen inviting them to sample the delights of Barcelona. They already had - and still survived to witness one of Arsene Wenger's finest moments.

North London, in the space of 24 unforgettable hours, laid claim to the title of European football's epicentre as Arsenal followed up Tottenham's wonderful win against AC Milan at the San Siro by flooring the Champions League favourites with a late one-two.

And while Wenger may have to wait three weeks for total victory against Catalonia's artists to fully justify the philosophy he applies so strictly to Arsenal, this was a night he can use as a powerful weapon against the doubters.

It is stretching reality to breaking point to suggest Arsenal were the better side against Barcelona, far from it, but this was such a show of moral and physical courage from the Gunners that few would begrudge them their win.

Arsenal were outplayed to the point of being passive by-standers for some portions of what Wenger correctly labelled "a special football night", but the team so often accused of lacking inner steel (and accused here on occasions, it should be said) stood firm and waited for their chance.

It looked unlikely to come as Barcelona weathered Arsenal's best efforts, an enthralling encounter entering its last 12 minutes with David Villa's first-half goal still the difference.

Andrey ArshavinSubstitute Arshavin crowned a historic night at the Emirates. Photo: Reuters

And then it happened. Wenger's bravery in going on all-out attack with his changes was rewarded when Robin van Persie was the beneficiary of Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes' amateurish positioning for an equaliser before substitute Andrey Arshavin crowned a perfect passage of approach play by sweeping in the winner seven minutes from time.

The Emirates, no library on this thunderous night, erupted in relief and joy. Barcelona had charmed and tortured in equal measure while beating Arsenal to progress into the semi-final last season, but now there was the chance of revenge.

Arsenal may have been clinging to the Champions League by their fingertips at times but it is to their eternal credit that when they had the ball they passed it and played as befits their principles. For all the pre-match talk of "getting in Barcelona's faces" they stayed true to what Wenger believes.

"Everyone urged us to play differently to our nature," he said. "We did not. The fact that we won can strengthen the belief in our philosophy and that is most important."

There was a bloody-minded edge too, a quality not traditionally associated with Arsenal. Wenger recalled how Barcelona dropped down the gears late on at the Emirates last season - they did the same here and Arsenal were ready for the change.

Wenger added: "We were not only strong on the football side but on the mental side too. Against Barcelona you are exposed many times when they have possession but we kept resilient and strong.

"The problem with their possession is that if you are a fraction late you are in trouble. You have to be tight with the marking and if you don't it is difficult.

"We were prepared mentally to live with that. Usually we have the ball more than our opponents but we knew tonight that 60% of the time we would have to be focused on them."

Wenger's calculations were correct as Barcelona enjoyed 61% of possession, with the visitors completing 629 passes compared to Arsenal's 299. Arsenal were on the right end of the most vital statistic, though, and this was no Barcelona-lite, the phrase often used as the faintest praise to damn them.

It was a victory Wenger can use to inject self-belief. He still has to win trophies to fully justify his methods - but if beating the team he calls "the best in the world" does not instil confidence nothing will.

Of course, Barcelona should have had the game won comfortably before Arsenal's two resounding late blows - but is this not a fate that has been suffered by Wenger's sides before?

Barcelona were too often keen to make an artistic impression rather than add an edge of ruthlessness, ending up losers in a game they should have won.

And Barcelona, as they were at the Emirates last season, were guilty of a complacency bordering on smugness as they went on to cruise control rather than kill off an opponent. Is this not a charge that has been levelled at Arsenal in the Premier League before?

messi595.jpgMessi wasted chances to score for Barcelona. Photo: Getty Images

There is more than one case for comparison between these two clubs.

Lionel Messi, skills as dazzling as his orange boots, was in particularly generous mood as he mixed creating Villa's goal with some uncharacteristically slipshod work in front of goal.

Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Barcelona's midfield hub of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez "The Carousel" before being made to feel rather ill himself in the 2009 Champions League final, but Arsenal held on tight and refused to be sickened by what can easily become a harrowing experience.

And this is where Wenger found his real heroes. Jack Wilshere was undaunted by the presence of greatness in opposition and, in partnership with Barcelona's favourite Gunner Cesc Fabregas, illustrated why such high hopes are loaded onto his teenage shoulders.

Laurent Koscielny, much maligned after uncertain months in England, was a tower of strength in among the flying footwear of Messi, Villa and Pedro. And young goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny performed with an assurance that backed up the whispers behind the scenes at Arsenal that he is Wenger's man for the future.

Of course, a measure of perspective and context is required because this job is only half done and the euphoria of Wednesday has the capacity to become a distant memory in the Nou Camp in three weeks.

Wenger admitted Barcelona remain favourites, knowing a 1-0 win could put them through, but Arsenal have something precious to protect and Barcelona have plenty to think about.

And Wenger can take pride in his own work on the sidelines, showing a gambler's instinct to send on the attacking Arshavin with Arsenal behind after 68 minutes, a sharp contrast to Guardiola's mystifying conservatism in sending on Seydou Keita for the lethal Villa.

So to Spain and almost certainly more of the same. Wenger and Guardiola made bold statements of attacking intent moments after the final whistle.

Guardiola said: "If you have the time or don't have anything to do I invite you to Barcelona and you will really enjoy the game in the second leg."

It was an invitation to sample the delights of Barcelona many Arsenal supporters will find impossible to resist.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Arsenal finally came of age tonight. They withstood a Barcelona team that were intent of playing them off the park, but after the body blow of David Villa's goal, they stuck to their task.

    They showed tonight all of the attributes that we have said for years that they lack. Stamina, speed, power, and no little skill. The 2ng leg will be an uphill battle with the away goal going against them, but Barcelona can be had at the back, especially with Pique missing. If Arsenal can play with the same passion, a result is on the cards.

  • Comment number 2.

    A fantastic result for Arsenal and in combination with the great result at the San Siro for Spurs it makes it a wonderful return to the Champions League for the English clubs.

    Going into this match I felt that Arsenal was better prepared this year round. I think that they were perhaps guilty last year of showing Barca too much respect. But the comments coming out of the Arsenal camp esp from Wenger indicated a different mentality. I was pleased to hear of the confidence coming from Arsenal.

    The players themselves showed a great maturity on the pitch and esp Jack Wilshere who could have easily been over-awed by the occasion. It was also good to see that Andrei Arshavin contributing with a good goal.

    Barca can be beaten! Good luck to them for the return leg at the Nou Camp. A draw will suffice for Arsenal and I hope that they can carry the same confidence that inspired last night’s victory.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good article.

    I'm not sure I would call Valdes' positioning amateurish though - like all of us I think he expected a cross rather than a shot.
    I thought Arshavin's goal was superb - he knew the keeper was unsighted (two defenders in front of him) so just had to side-foot it in.

    Great game of football. A joy to watch at times. Complete contrast to Milan and Spurs.

  • Comment number 4.

    As a United fan i would add to the congratulations of last nights performance - it was a fantastic game to watch, and i think only the bitterest of rivals would deny Arsenal a first leg lead.

    Yes there were elements of luck last night; a couple of handballs, and a disallowed goal, but *every* team gets some luck at one time or another, the key is whether they take full advantage of it. Last night, Arsenal did just that.

    However last night should serve as a word of warning - at times last night Barcelona cut Arsenal apart with relative ease, their profligacy in front of goal will be unlikely to be repeated in the return leg, so Arsenal need to be even more resolute than they were last night.

    Also, i think there is an argument to be had about the accusation that the EPL standards have fallen in recent years. How can this be when in a matter of days English teams have beaten the best Italy have to offer and the best in Spain? Maybe it is more a case that we overhype these leagues more than our own.

    The return leg promises to be a corker. I wonder if even the mighty Barcelona might panic a bit should Arsenal score the first goal....

  • Comment number 5.

    Wilshere and Szczesny showed presence and maturity beyond their years - neither of them looked overawed, whereas Fabregas and Van Persie at times looked a bit star-struck, perhaps trying too hard. But with both having contributed so much to the two goals, I hope they'll take a huge amount of belief into the second leg - and the rest of the season.
    The key to the second leg is to play more like we did in the second half - keeping the ball better, keeping a high tempo and stretching them - they know now that we can hurt them on the counter and we simply can't go there and park the bus: we simply don't have the personnel or the mentality required to do that. George Graham would have done, but Wenger simply doesn't have it in him.

    It could all end in tears, but what a night that was.

  • Comment number 6.

    thought the title was a bit unoriginal.
    the commentators said that as the whistle blew though tbf.
    i think arsenal showed real character to overcome a deficit to the team which is probably the best in the world.
    character that was perhaps drawn from the recognition that this was probably the biggest games of (the arsenal players) lives in terms of club football.
    great win by arsenal, and i couldn't care less about the ref (even though im a united fan ;) ), that was a great football game.
    premier league in decline? i think the jury is still out, lets wait until the second legs have finished.

  • Comment number 7.

    This was probably the best game to watch of the season, an these two teams are always good to watched.

    May be it was me, but I actually sense that Barcaelona got fustrates an start to loose there concentration in the last 25 minutes, an I suspect they were not expecting Arsenal or Arsene Wenger to carry on attacking like we did.

  • Comment number 8.

    It was nice to see Spurs put AC Milan to the sword and it was even better to watch Arsenal beat Barcelona. I don't subscribe to the notion Barcelona outplayed Arsenal, I think Arsenal stuck to their gameplan and believed in their abilities and this was the result.

    I think 3-3 would have been a fair result based on the chances both sides had, but I'll take the win anyday. Now for Man U, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal to show in a few weeks time that the Premier League is truly the best league in the world!

    Can they do it? I think so..will they? We'll have to see its not over yet :).

  • Comment number 9.

    what a great game, i found myself shouting on arsenal despite being a villa fan. if arsenal can keep barca out for the first half/60 mins in the second leg i think they'll nick a goal and win it but its no easy task.

    for me scezsny (sp) koscielny and wilshere were the standout performers, particularly wilshere when you consider his age experience and who he was up against.

  • Comment number 10.

    I live in Hong Kong and stayed up to watch it at 4 in the morning. Only got 2 hours sleep before having to wake up for work and have been feeling like a zombie all day. Not one ounce of regret though - so glad I witnessed what must be game of the season so far in all competitions.

    Favourite part was Arshavin's celebration t-shirt: a picture of himself with a finger to his lips in his trademark celebration. Genius!

  • Comment number 11.

    Well done Arsenal, but lets not get too carried away with the hyperbole Phil. Messi had 3 gilt edged chances and if the game had finished 2 or 3 nil to Barcelona it wouldn't have flattered them.

    Every time Arsenal win a big game you and dozens of other journalists keep bleating on about how they have come of age. The same team that squandered a 4 goal lead against Newcastle? The same team that struggled to get out of a group containing Shaktar Donesk, Braga and Partizan Belgrade?

    If Barcelona win the tie will Arsenal still have come of age?

  • Comment number 12.

    for the first time i (a manu fan) found myself cheering on the gooners. I's only half time so lets not get carried away. The best thing for the night for me was Jack Wilshere, he stood toe to toe with the best in the world last night, and looked just as good as they did. A truly awaesome prospect for England. Walcott had moments but his touch is awful.

  • Comment number 13.

    The game was interesting and the return leg will be a cracker. But there is nothing to celebrate; the truth is Arsenal will be knocked out. Luck helped Wenger's side a lot. Can anyone give the reason for the disallowed goal?
    They beat Arsenal during the finals, they beat Arsenal the other season and in all occasions they did it when Arsenal was on the lead, they will enjoy to do it better this time!!

  • Comment number 14.

    A good game, only ruined by eboue's dreadful performance

    I think this blog summed it up well :

  • Comment number 15.

    Another United fan here. I echo all that 'SirMouseburger' says. a fantastic display by Arsenal. I started off not sure who i wanted to win. Surely not and English team, but then the commentators started with their insistence that we all might as well turn the tv off. There was no chance apparently of any team on the plannet even coming close to the invincible Barcelona. That made my mind up. I suddenly had no control over who i wanted to win. I've never wanted one of the 'big four'(or five) to win against a foreign team.
    Barcelona went one up and that was it. All over. Again the commentators tried to put us all off watching. There was no point. It was only a matter of time before it became 2, 3, or 4 like last season. The second half started and it looked a bit different but surely this wouldn't last long before the invincibles (Barcelona before we stray in to thoughts of the 'arse' of a few years ago!!)hit a few more. Well stuff you (I'd like to put it differently (!) it didnt go to script.

    Well done. you did well.

  • Comment number 16.

    Koscielny, tower of defense? Really?
    Well done, Arsenal, you've made us proud and I'm a Chelsea fan. Good luck with the next leg.

  • Comment number 17.

    Not to take away from a great win; but didn't you say they'd come of age after beating Everton only to see tham capitulate to Tottenham?

    Arsenal still look shaky defensively, especically Koscielny; they could do with a few more Wilshires on the team - so tenacious yet he barely gave a foul away at the same time with his harrying (unlike Song, who I bet had most Arsenal fans on edge after 9 minutes!)

    As good a performance as it was, I'm not sure they can ride their luck as much in the return leg.


  • Comment number 18.

    I find that picture of Van Persie hugging Wenger surprisingly moving. It's such a rare moment of joy on Wenger's face - the guy always looks so weary. I'm not a Gooner, but their victory was worth it just to see this reaction from Wenger! Well done Gooners.

    I'd also like to add how solid Szczesny looks - he's got that irritating confidence that really aids the top keepers e.g. Lehmann (but less mental)

  • Comment number 19.

    We were extremely lucky last night, Messi's disallowed goal and a couple of one-on-ones that he would have put away on another day, not to mention an ominous handball from AA late on.

    In the second half Barca started to look flat footed, perhaps a few of them are tiring due to lack of rotation within their squad?

    Massive credit to our lads for seizing the opportunities when they came, I thought we were excellent when in possession, and we closed them down quickly forcing them to give the ball away. To be honest I was expecting them to massively outplay us but that wasn't really the case. We looked so dangerous on the break.

    Agree with other posters re the title, I'm fed up of hearing this stuff. We will have 'come of age' when we win some major silverware, not the mickey mouse cup - although that will be a massive confidence boost, not that we need one right now.

    Hopefully in the return leg we will have Sagna (massively underrated) and Vermaelen available for selection, Eboue didn't look up to task last night.

    Oo to be a Gooner!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Well done to arsenal. if you dont take your chances your will be punished at this level an thats what happened. I must say though I have never seen Barca be so wasteful in fornt of goal so I woulnt expect the same thing at the camp nou

  • Comment number 21.

    Arsenal will get badly beaten at the Camp Nou

  • Comment number 22.

    Well done to Arsenal for their win against Barcelona (after all, very few teams manage to get a result against them), especially after going 1-0 down and being out-played for much of the first half (didn't watch the second half). Coming of age is perhaps a bit premature but for sure : that was a great display against a superb footballing side (even though it's pretty much impossible to match them possession-wise).

    The sterner test will come at the Nou Camp though, and the result being what it is, I think Arsenal will have to be even stronger to get the result they need in Barcelona, but at least they have given themselves a great chance of reaching the quarter-finals at the expense of the super-favourites.

  • Comment number 23.

    A great result against the best team in the world. However. Barcelona will not be so profligate in the second leg and unless Arsenal score at least once, they will go out. They will not keep a clean sheet. Enjoy it whilst you can Gooners, there is only 1 team in North London going through to the quarter finals and it ain't you!

  • Comment number 24.

    I have waited years just to be able to say: The trouble with Barcelona is that all the brilliant tippy tappy football in the world is wasted if you can't put the ball in the net.

    That's one for all the happy gooners out there.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm not an Arsenal supporter so I wasn't at The Emirates which doesn't put me in the best position to comment and I missed the first half.However from what I did see i thought Arsenal were superb and deserved their win.I think they can hold Barcelona in Spain if they attack and harry Barcelona out of their comfort zone.
    By the way I think England may have found its next super star.I thought Wiltshire was magnificent,good technique and good football brain,unlike Walcott who often seems to take the wrong options.Arsenal could have a great midfield when Ramsey returns

  • Comment number 26.

    Fantastic game, well done Arsenal for fighting to the end. Barcelona looked very dangerous but as we all know it sometimes doesn't translate into goals. I feel Arsenal need to score in the Nou Camp to get through. If they can nick a goal first it will make Barca sweat and the doubts will creep in.

  • Comment number 27.

    It's a great result but let's not kid ourselves in to thinking that it was brought about by anything other than poor officiating.

    Song should have have been sent off for persistent fouls, Messi's goal should have stood, Koscielny should of been sent off for a professional foul and Barca should have had two penalties - one for that foul and one for hand ball by Arshavin in the last mintues. If those first three decisions were made correctly Arsenal would have been losing 3-0 and down to 9 men after 60 mins played.

    If those kinds of decisions went against Arsenal this blog would be talking about nothing else and the comments would all be about how it was a combined plot by Platini and Blatter to destroy the English game.

    Still history shows that a team that loses an away European knock-out first leg 2-1 goes on to win the tie the majority of times and I fully to expect that to be the case this time too.

  • Comment number 28.

    Phil, I'm not sure how you can say Arsenal came of age, yet go on to explain how Barcelona allowed them back in the game...?

    A total contradiction.

    Yes, Arsenal played their socks off, but they were completely 'found out' and looked amateurish in their attempts to match Barcelona's style.

    Barcelona could and should have been more ruthless and won the game three nil.

    Reminds me of the Ipswich Arsenal match - and how Ipswich held out for a pleasing victory, yet knowing they are going to get whupped in the next leg.

  • Comment number 29.

    In truth Arsenal played fairly poorly going forward, although obviously they gave it 100%. Fabragas played his worse game din a while, Nasri was off the pace for the first hour, Walcott was very hit and miss mainly miss and Van Persie looked very ungainly. Its not surprising though that they won though as they have more weapons then the fairly one dimensional Barca team who really hasn't developed a game beyond the 5 a side football pressing game which works so well against the very slow and lazy La Liga. teams.

  • Comment number 30.

    To all of you criticising or trying to find fault with Arsenals performance all i can say is 2-1!!!!!!!

    Yes it might be a slender lead, yes we might have had some luck,but the bottom line is we won 2-1 end of!

    We have given ourselves a massive chance of getting a result out of the tie and i for one cant wait to see the game at the Nou Camp. Arsenal are in the driving seat and Barca will have to come out all guns blazing from the start. I would be very suprised if we didnt nick a goal therefore meaning Barca would have to get 3!!

    As for #21, thanks for your contribution, are you a bitter rival fan???

    Come on you gooners!!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Wonderful game last night... Barca were producing more triangles than the Toblerone factory must do in a year!

    Wilshere was MOM for me last night, he really does look like a complete box to box midfielder- hopefully Capello saw that last night aswell.

    Cant wait for the next leg, still think Barca will go through in the end though

  • Comment number 32.

    Great performance and result from Arsenal last night, but it's a bit early to start the salutations. If they come away from the Nou Camp with a place in the next round, then you can maybe say they've made it.

  • Comment number 33.

    Two word to sum up that match - Jack Wilshere.

  • Comment number 34.

    What a game! Barca are the best club side in years - perhaps rivalling the great Real Madrid side that won 5 consecutive European Cups as the greatest ever. This win should not be underestimated.

    As a Liverpool fan, I cannot remember being so pumped as I was when Arshavin scored his winner. Arsenal fought doggedly and deserved their win. Hanging in there is inevitable against the artistry of Messi, Inesta, Xavi and yet they also played fabulous football when they had posession. I really hope Wenger wins something this year - they are competing on several fronts but the Carling Cup looks highly probable which will keep his doubters happy at winning some silverware. He is a genius coach. Simple as that.

    A special mention for Wilshere - he was Arsenal's best player by a mile. Cesc was ordinary in comparison. Did Wilshere give the ball away once last night? His first touch is so assured and his strength and vision illustrated what a player he will be.

    Thank you Arsenal and Barcelona for a wonderful game of football.

  • Comment number 35.

    I wish people would understand the handball rule - ball to hand is NOT hand ball ... hand to ball is. The ball was kicked on to Djourou's hands which were held low and Arshavin headed the ball onto his own hand !

    As for the performance, what can I say, we beatt he best club football team OF ALL TIME at their own game !! At times the triangles, the passing and movement of Barcelona were mesmerising, I've not seen anything like it before, they were playing 5-A-side football on an 11-A-side pitch. But equally impressive was how they crowded out our players as soon as they got the ball to win the ball back, they hunted in packs.

  • Comment number 36.

    As a Liverpool fan I would like to congratulate Arsenal for a fantastic night of entertainment. I would also like to congratulate their fans who also played their part in a truly great European night of football. I did say yesterday on Dixons blog that 'stranger things have happened' and that Arsenal could win. Barcelona are a fantastic team, but their passing game, like too much chocolate left me feeling slightly nauseous. The Gooners still have it to do in the second leg but hopefully Wenger plays the right game in the away leg. Hope my team can do the business tonight.

  • Comment number 37.

    I always think passing comment after the first of a two-leg tie is a bit premature, unless it's a 4-0 thrashing. It's only half-time and the real hard work is still to come in the away leg. Taking a slender 2-1 lead to Barcelona for the next 90/120 minutes of the tie is hardly a guarantee of progress.

    I think the realists amongst us witnessed a very lucky Arsenal side last night. I hope for their sake that they improve massively in 3 weeks time or that Lady Luck continues to smile on them.

    By the way: why is there a 3 week gap until the second leg? I can see both sides picking up injuries in the mean-time which may well spoil the spectacle somewhat.

  • Comment number 38.

    Congratulations to Wenger for finally making a substitution full of risk and an element of genius.

    Arshavin for Song with Nasri moving to Song's midfield role was inspired. Keita and Busquets disappeared after that and we really got a hold of them and Arshavin was yet again involved in both goals.

    And I thought he was going to bring on Denilson!

  • Comment number 39.

    If you love your football you have got to have enjoyed last night's game, regardless of who you support. Barcelona's passing is simply sublime. But on the night it was matched by Arsenal's tenacity, self-belief and, of course, individual quality in the form of players such as Fabregas, Nasri and especially Jack Wiltshire: at last an English player with technique to match the best in Europe (I wonder if we could get the Sheikh to stump up enough to get the lad to Eastlands?)

  • Comment number 40.

    Barca deserved to lose. Don't get me wrong they are not playing badly, but when David Villa was taken off in the 63rd minute it was a clear signal sent out to the players to "hold onto the 1-0 lead".

    Villa wasn't injuried so it was clearly a defensive change and it backfired.

    Well done Arsenal. Although I still don't think you have enough to win the big prize but at least you showed us you are mentally strongly than last few seasons.

  • Comment number 41.

    What a game of football that was last night!

    I really enjoyed it, and I have to congratulate Arsenal for a gutsy and great performance.

    Barcelona are the best club side in world football, yes they missed some great chances as pointed out by Phil, but RVP didn't exactly have his best shooting boots on either, and on a another night could have had a hat trick.

    2-1 is a very slim advantage to take to Camp Nou, but whatever happens in the 2nd leg, Arsenal should be proud of what they achieved last night.

    Well done from a Chelsea fan.

  • Comment number 42.

    The question is where would losing this tie (if Arsenal finish the job) leave Barca and the over inflated hype surrounding them. Last year Inter beat them easy and with 10 man for long periods, the year before Chelsea thrashed them and the ref had to put them through. Another failure for them and Real Madrid (hopeless in Europe in recent years) and we will have to conclude that La Liga produces fairly limited teams rather then keep claiming that Barca were unlucky.

  • Comment number 43.

    Of course we rode our luck, not many teams can restrict Barca to no chances, especially a team like ours which has a philosophy of playing our own game and not purely to stop the opposition. I thought we could win the game as 11 v 11 anything can happen. Wilshere and Koscielny were magnificent. Credit to Wenger for getting his subs right and credit to home fans, it was the best atmosphere I've heard inside the Emirates. Now for a score draw at the Camp Nou...

  • Comment number 44.


    Inter did not beat Barcelon easily. Some very dubious refereeing decisions helped. As for Chelsea the previous year, no one remembers the first leg of that game, Barca destroyed Chelsea and were on the recieving end of some terrible refereeing decisions as well.

    That said, i think if they are to be considered as greats they need to win at least another Champions League trophy.

  • Comment number 45.

    Surprised at the praise for Koscielny, he was the one playing Messi onside for the first chance he should of scored and his 'tackle' on Pedro, which should of been a penalty and red card, was made as if he were blindfolded

  • Comment number 46.

    #45 If you watched the replays you will see Pedro fell over!! Koscielny was a collosus last night! I for one have had my doubts about him but loast night i can see why Wenger rates him....

  • Comment number 47.

    27. At 08:25am on 17 Feb 2011, Zinedine Galactico wrote:
    It's a great result but let's not kid ourselves in to thinking that it was brought about by anything other than poor officiating.

    Song should have have been sent off for persistent fouls, Messi's goal should have stood, Koscielny should of been sent off for a professional foul and Barca should have had two penalties - one for that foul and one for hand ball by Arshavin in the last mintues. If those first three decisions were made correctly Arsenal would have been losing 3-0 and down to 9 men after 60 mins played.

    If those kinds of decisions went against Arsenal this blog would be talking about nothing else and the comments would all be about how it was a combined plot by Platini and Blatter to destroy the English game.

    Still history shows that a team that loses an away European knock-out first leg 2-1 goes on to win the tie the majority of times and I fully to expect that to be the case this time too.


    what an idiot.

    it was offside because pedros shot bounced back of the keeper onto him then it ent to messi as it still cam eof pedro last and he was offside at that point.
    Which peno's the arshavin one wasnt, it dropped and hit his arm which was down by his side, never a pen.
    Oh and about song getting sent off, what about pique, he absolutely clattered into van persie who would of been away down the wing with no defenders in front of him, didnt even get a yellow, shocking

    im a united fan, so no bias here.

    wilshire was brilliant, stand out performer on the night.

    However about arsenal not changing the way they play,they did, even though the formationa dn players were the same they were obviously much more defensive, song and wilshire never ever seemed to want to attack when they broke free. Arsenal, especially in the first half just simply didnt have enough players helping out up top.

    Phil said this ''Barcelona were too often keen to make an artistic impression rather than add an edge of ruthlessness, ending up losers in a game they should have won''

    couldnt agree more, some of the play was uneccessary and pointless

    well done arsenal anyway, look forward to the away leg

  • Comment number 48.

    Congratulations Arsenal fans hope you enjoyed your night, great performance from your team and they did well to come back. Still let's not get ahead of ourselves, as people have said Guardiola's Barca team haven't won an away knockout game in over 2 years of Champions League football now. You only have to look at their home record in the knockout stages below to see where they win the ties are won.
    round of 16: Barcelona 4-0 Stuttgart
    Quarters: Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal
    Semis: Barcelona 1-0 Inter

    and 08-09:
    round of 16: Barcelona 5-2 Lyon
    Quarters: Barcelona 4-0 Bayern Munich
    Semis: Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea

    4 big wins, 1 close one and a draw where they still stopped the opposition from scoring. They've got their away goal and to be honest if it hadn't been for Valdes mistake you may not even have got back into the match. I can still only see one team advancing from this tie. Messi had an off night and still nearly finished you off in one half, no way the same will happen back at Camp Nou.

    Thanks for the half a sentence on the Spurs performance by the way Phil. Go away to the San Siro and pick up a 1-0 win with a couple of key players missing and half a sentence is all you credit it with. You're not a journalist you're a sensationalist, the other bloggers on here are the ones who tell us the real stories of football and other sports.

  • Comment number 49.

    "Arsenal come of age" many times have I heard that...

    Just watch, they will get smashed at the Nou camp

  • Comment number 50.

    A patient performance from Arsenal with Wilshere & Koscielny outstanding. Disappointing to see Messi & Alves walk straight off the pitch without shaking any opposition hands. Maybe these guys have won too often and need to show a little more dignity in defeat?

  • Comment number 51.

    Well done for a great result. Replacing Song (who was a liability) by Arshavin was a big gamble as it exposed the midfield (Nasri is just back from injury) but it paid off so handsomely with Nasri breaking from the midfield to make the goal. I also did not agree with substituting Walcott for the useless-selfish Bendtner. He never passes the ball in the box and always tries to take the glory.
    Wilshere was immense though, for a 19 years old, truely immense.

  • Comment number 52.

    It was a great game to watch, and classic example of whats so great about champions league football.
    Arsenal at times matched Barcelona, and for once were displaying some sort of steel in their display. Koscielny in particular was their defensive rock, one of the best players on the pitch last night.

    But seriously "coming of age"? How many times has Arsenal been called this? If Arsenal beat Barcelona in Nou camp and progress, and win some silverware then maybe we can start labelling Arsenal with this tag.
    Really annoys me how english media praise a team heavily after a win and then throw loads of criticism their way if they lose.

    Last 2 nights have been great for english teams, lets hope that continues until the final

  • Comment number 53.


    Messi was clearly behind the ball when it came back off Pedro. In case you don't know, which seems highly likely, you cannot be offside if you are behind the ball.

  • Comment number 54.

    You couldn't make it up could you? Outplayed for virtually the entire 90 minutes; should have been 0-3 down; score two late goals; win 2-1. Lucky Arsenal. Again.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think people are getting slightly carried away. Yes, it ended up a good result, but I'm sure most teams would take a 2-1 away defeat in the 1st leg of a Champions League game.

    Let's not kid ourselves - Barca were the best team. If Messi had've had his shooting boots on he would've ended up with a hat-trick. Remember last season - Barcelona battered Arsenal at the Emirates only for them to secure a draw, which certainly wasn't deserved.
    When it came down to it, it didn't matter as Barca were able to put them to the sword at the Camp Nou.

    Was it a good result for Arsenal considering they were behind for 70-odd minutes? Definitely.
    Was it a good result ultimately? Not particularly.

  • Comment number 56.

    The atmosphere at the Emrites last night was jumping. One of the best games I've gone to in four years at teh Emrites. Of course we still have a lot to do in second leg, but this game was so much more......we now really can believe collectively that we can beat anyone. No more nervous insecurity against precieved better the end of the day we need total domestic dominence before we attempt the Champions league, this game should give our players the belief they can achieve that.

  • Comment number 57.

    Mystifying Phil? Substituting a striker for a defensive midfielder when 1-0 up away from home? The only mystifying thing was that it took Wenger so long to introduce Arshavin who's surely made for games like this - still his tactics worked a treat so I can't fault him on that one.

    As a neutral - very enjoyable game, thought Arsenal have improved since last year, actually got amongst Barca and looked a lot more committed than they early on so going behind was slightly harsh. Gotta say Jack Wilshere was incredible, I only saw him give the ball away once, definitely the difference from last year.

    Thought Walcott was somewhat typical - getting into good positions and then picking the wrong pass! Still he worked hard as did all the team, I've never seen him track back so much.

  • Comment number 58.

    to be honest, i think a poor blog at times, 'It is stretching reality to breaking point to suggest Arsenal were the better side against Barcelona' is it really? i was at the emirates last night, fantastic atmosphere, and i think Arsenal more than matched Barca last night, Barca had the better of possession, but i assume you all saw last night as i certainly did where i was sat, that Barca's passing was left and right, right and left and maybe right once more, Arsenal harried them all game putting great pressure on them, when Barca did put the ball through we played the offside trap which was quite effective. Koscielny really did have the front 3 wrapped up, especially Messi, it was his most solid performance, my man of the match, although Wilshere and Scnezny could have got it. We knew Barca would have the ball for long periods of time, but arsenal were far from passive bystanders, they harried all the time to force errors and to contain Barca as best as humanly possible.
    Arsenal thoroughly deserved the win, Valdez positoning was pretty much perfect, no one would expect to get a shot in from that impossible angle, there was little else he could do, and the last goal was fantastic counter attacking and ruthlessness. I'm so horse this morning from shouting so much last night, never have i been prouder to be an Arsenal fan! Now i look forward to camp nou, we have the belief that we can beat them, we've done it now and we should travel with no fear to Barcelona, if we lose then we can hold our hands up and say we stood up to barca and beat them wihtout parking the bus, by still playing our passing football. Also, last note, thanks to utd fans on here with the praise and congratulations, great sportsmanship guys, fair play

  • Comment number 59.

    "Arsenal were outplayed to the point of being passive by-standers for some portions of what Wenger correctly labelled "a special football night", but the team so often accused of lacking inner steel (and accused here on occasions, it should be said) stood firm and waited for their chance."

    so by stood firm you mean conceded a goal, and were saved by the offside flag? Standing firm is conceding the away goal?

  • Comment number 60.

    Easy Tigers...

    Let's not get too carried away.

    After watching the first half I saw nothing had improved for Arsenal vs last year, Barcelona totally out played and out passed them. Arsenal were reduced to counter attacking football.

    But they took more of their chances than Barcelona.

    Wenger has a dilemna for the second leg, sit back and defend or go for it.

    I don't think he can do sit back and defend, and Barcelona have the away goal.

    Chances on Barcelona not scoring at the Nou Camp?

  • Comment number 61.

    Well done Arsenal. After all, you have the second best manager and team in the premier league.

  • Comment number 62.

    Like the Argentinian team when Maradonna was at his peak, Barca play a version of "schoolboy football" flooding the area with ball to win it high up the pitch. In Messi and Villa they have players who can exploit the opportunities they produce. However, if the opposition have the skill to retain the ball under pressure and move it quickly they have numerical advantage elsewhere and Arsenal used this to create their own opportunities. Second half Barca revert to their plan B - endless recycling of the ball waiting for an opportunity. Arsenal allowed them to do this high up the pitch and when they won the ball used pace to exploit Barca's defensive frailties - a bit like "rope a dope".

    People are saying Arsenal were outplayed but I think they got it tactically right. In the past Barca's approach has come unstuck when up against a tactically astute coach with the players who can deliver a plan (notably Mourinho)

    Maybe a controversial view but I think it holds water. Just because you pass the ball 500 times in 90 minutes doesn't make you the better team

  • Comment number 63.

    All the haters can start gassing anything they like, but they are all flawed. Barcelona are the best team in the world by some distance, so they were never going to be outplayed last night. We stuck to our game plan well, and rode our luck, but so does every team.

    I have been a big critic of Koscielny, but last night i was impressed by him. I found early on in the season his biggest flaw was his penchant for flying in on the half way line a la Senderos style. Last night he was more disciplined and looked like he was thinking when to go in and when to hold. Of course he still made some bad decisions, but this is only his 3rd CL game ever.

    Wilshere was immense, he rarely looked panicked with the ball. i was worried that when he didn't have the ball for long periods and was chasing shadows, that this would boil over into frustration and he could fly in to some wild challeneges, but he showed maturity and clarity of thought that belie his age.

    So onto the next leg, we go there hoping that we can take a fully fit team there. if we do, then we have a chance...

    Before i finish, i want to address the Spuds game the night before. It was a great result but people need to stop trying to compare their result to ours. They beat the worst Milan team to ever grace the Champions League, they too rode their luck hugely,and had very few genuine attempts on goal.

    Their management team again showed their lack of class by clashing with players. Why was Joe Jordan allowed so close to the pitch? why is he giving abuse to players? Have you ever seen any of the true top clubs in the world get involved like that? The answer is a resounding No. Earlier on in the season Redknapp squared up to Pires away to Villa, its embarrassing for him. Nearly as embarrassing as the one sided, sicafantic commentary that Ray Wilkins gave of the game. Appauling.

  • Comment number 64.

    Firstly, congratulations to Arsenal fans on a great result. I personally think that Barcelona should have been out of sight. They were a vastly superior team for most of the match, barring the first 10 and last 15 minutes in fact nad Arsenal are extremely fortunate to have found Messi on an 'Off' night. A rare occurrence to say the least. I think it also showed that Fabregas would not find a place in barcelona's team at the minute. He is a fabulous footballer but Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets are better (and lets not forget Mascherano kicking his heels on the bench).
    Last night Fab was often wasteful in posession and provided poor delivery from free kicks on more than on occasion. Wilshere was actually the more composed of the 2, although Im sure playing against Barca is an emotional hurdle for Fabregas aswell, so mybe that explains it.
    Props to Wenger for throwing Arshavin on and going for it. The little Russian is an enigma but at any given moment is capable of something world class. The finish was composed an controlled.
    So again, well done the gooners but I expect you to be put to the sword at Camp Nou.

  • Comment number 65.

    Laurent Koscielny - definitely man of the match for Arsenal. In last nights game we needed to defend well if we were to get anything out of the game, and Laurent Koscielny was the pillar. Great job to all who played you have done us proud, even if the inevitable happens at the 2nd leg. Whatever happens, next season (bar major injuries) Arsenal will be the team to beat in the PL.

  • Comment number 66.

    My issue is: What more could any one in their right senses (Given the stature of Barca) ask of Arsenal? Coming of age will only be sealed by winning a Cup - agreed. It just amuses me that the same people who had written off the Arsenal team before kick-off talk about 'ifs' to justify Barca's loss. Admit it. The Gunners were on the money, had more total shots and equal shots on target compared with Barca. And not to forget the vital statistic - more goals! I cannot discuss Barca because it will not add to or diminish the obvious fact that they are the best on occassion last night and on the planet right now. But as one match does not necessarily make a team, another one (in 3 weeks) should not be pre-judged as doomsday for a team brilliant on the night. If in doubt (Ask their El Classico partners)

  • Comment number 67.

    Barcelona didn't get the favour of a big refereeing decision? Say it ain't so!

    /A Chelsea fan still bitter about past big refereeing decisions.

  • Comment number 68.

    As Foonyroo says "Arsenal were outplayed to the point of being passive by-standers for some portions of what Wenger correctly labelled "a special football night"

    And yet Barca still lost which to me shows how in effective their football is particularly when they have to play more then 60 mins. They just ran themselves into the ground in the first half and seemed to have nothing much Messi apart in the second. You can discuss the offside goal for Barca but I think Barca's flaws have been laid bare and only their oversized pitch can save them now.

  • Comment number 69.

    See you in the final?

  • Comment number 70.

    Great result for Arsenal last night, everything that needed to happen for Arsenal to get the result was there. Every Arsenal player needed to have a great night and they did (especially wilshere, he looks quite a player). They needed large amounts of luck at times which they got with Messi's disallowed 'goal' that wasn't offside and they needed one or two of Barcelona's stars to have an off night which they got. Messi by his standards had a shocker and should have buried the game, Iniesta was largely anonymous. Everything that was required was there.

    Arsenal have shown that they can beat Barcelona, can they repeat the performance in the Nou Camp? It has the makings of a great game there.

  • Comment number 71.

    Fantastic win for Arsenal, and sets up a potential cracker at Camp Nou.

    However, nobody seems to have addressed Messi's disallowed follow-up headed goal in the first half. That was a rotten decision, let's be honest, and two away goals could have put a very different complexion on this tie.

  • Comment number 72.

    It reminded me a bit of United v Milan in 2007. Although they arent barca at that time they had a good European pedigree. We got bossed at OT first half and found ourselves 2-1 down but scored 2 late on to make the score 3-2. The ground obviously erupted and a lot of people started talking about the final. Come the second leg we went 3-0 down by half time and went down with a whimper. For Arsenal to really crack on they need to finish the job.

    Given how good Barca where before they bizarely took Villa off I wouldn't be too confident. I certainly wouldn't be ready to say a team came of age. It's not too disimmilar to last seasone except Barca only went 1-0 up.

  • Comment number 73.

    I will admit at the outset that although I am a Spurs fan, I still prefer any British team to win in Europe, (yes even Arsenal).

    After an amazing result for Spurs on Tuesday I was still buzzing last night and really looking forward to the footballing feast that is Arse v Barca.

    The first half was a bit of a let down if I'm honest with Arsenal being good, (but not quite good enough), in creating but not finishing a few chances, (and seemingly hamstrung by the early booking of the vital Song). Barca seemed to be in 2nd gear a lot of the time and as much as enjoying the game itself, I was marvelling at the precise passing and seemingly constant off the ball movement that gave them so many options in posession.

    The turning point, (from my point of view), was not the introduction of Arshavin for Song however, but the substitution made just BEFORE that which saw Barca withdraw David Villa and replace him with a little known player, (defensive midfielder I think).

    It was this action that immediately allowed Wenger to dispense with the defense-minded Song, (who was soooo lucky to still be on the pitch after an early booking and then a series of consistant fouls), and replace him with Arshavin.

    The 2nd Arse sub was Bendtner on for Walcott. As hard as Theo tried, they doubled up on him really well, (after the chasing he gave them last season), and rather than a more attacking sub, what I think Wenger was doing was getting Barca to relax, (without Theo to worry about), and send more players forward looking to kill the tie off.

    For the winner it was Nasri flying down the right who was the catalyst, and this area would simply not have been left unguarded had Theo been on the pitch, so much as it pains me to admit it, it was a master-stroke of vision by the man who usually sees nothing, (lol).

    Obviously the appalling positioning of the GK for the equaliser should be mentioned, but the in-form RVP still had to stick it in there from such a tight angle.

    All in all an amazing couple of days for both N.London giants, (beating the leaders of both the Italians and Spanish leagues), and nothing would please me more than the progression of both London clubs to the next round, (but the job is far from done at this stage).

    Lastly, the performance of Jack Wilshire was nothing short of stupendous. In a crowded midfield containing some of the best technical players on the planet, he looked at ease and in control and dare I say the best midfielder on show. His performance simply blew me away, (especially after the withdrawal of Song when he played deeper).

    What a couple of days.

  • Comment number 74.

    Utd Fan in peace

    Thought Arsenal were poor last night in that they gave away possession too cheaply, but Phil is right they stuck to their 'guns' and in the end deserved their win.

    For all their plaudits Barcelona looked vunerable to being attacked. If Arsenal in the first half had defended properly (ie solid back line if you're playing high up the pitch), they could have walked away with it.

    Thought Walcott looked like he had them worried all night and Wilshire had a good game. Fabregas was poor as was Alex Song's passing.

    In the first half Fab crossed for RVP when the shot was the better option, I think he bottled it.

    Anyway great game, great result and hopefully Arsenal can go and have a go at the Camp Nou. Make the media eat some humble pie!

  • Comment number 75.

    I wouldn't exactly call Valdes' positioning 'amateurish', yes he left a little gap and jumped just before the strike (which you are taught to do) but that shot goes in 1 in 20 maybe. And most players would cross from there anyway.

    Still great night for the Gooners, stood firm and were patient, which seems to be the byword for successful times in this era. Still it all would have been completley different if Messi had his shooting boots on...

  • Comment number 76.

    It should also be stated that Barca were at full strength and we were without arguably 3 of our first choice back 5 if you include GK.

  • Comment number 77.

    Barca certainly get the rub of the green when they play in Europe, all us Blues can account for that. Agree they were unlucky with the disallowed goal but the ref's bias towards them in the majority of his on-field decisions slightly compensated one would say. 2-1 is nothing in Europe but think Barca's complacency more than merited the loss.

  • Comment number 78.

    And you still have to fancy Barca to overturn that deficit at the Camp Nou. Still, was a great match.


    I wouldn't exactly call Valdes' positioning 'amateurish', yes he left a little gap and jumped just before the strike (which you are taught to do) but that shot goes in 1 in 20 maybe. And most players would cross from there anyway.

    Still great night for the Gooners, stood firm and were patient, which seems to be the byword for successful times in this era. Still it all would have been completley different if Messi had his shooting boots on...

  • Comment number 79.

    Congratulations to Arsenal for winning. I could only watch 65 mins of the game and couldn't believe it when I heard the final score, as they got outplayed by Barca all over the park for the first hour. I watch a lot of La Liga and at times Barcelona do move down a gear or two when they are in complete control of games, and under Guardiola last year in the Champions League they didn't win a game away from home. I think in the return leg there will be more of a cutting edge to Barcelona's game and on that massive pitch the Arsenal players will be doing a lot of defending and chasing the ball. Well done though to Arsenal for the result.

  • Comment number 80.

    Nice to see Arsenal beat Barca. It's a good sign for Wenger ball really. All these barren years perhaps will be worth it, IF Arsenal win something.
    I have one question about Arsenal please , why is it, I read people slating Arshavin and Bendnter( spell check?) when these guys are the ones that pull it out of the fire for you on occasion..
    It's half time , you are winning 2:1 against Barcelona.....How does it make you feel the next leg will shape up. I can't see Arsenal playing defensively to hold onto the lead, and if Barca take their chances, and it's an IF, then Arsenal will be on the end of another Drubbing. Would be nice to see Wenger win something though.

  • Comment number 81.

    What's that geezer on about? Keidu Keita is a very well-known and respected Malian DM and that substitution was made at the same time!

  • Comment number 82.

    when you peel away the hype, you'll see Arsenal's defence failing time and time again to play offside. You'll see messi wasting several chances (no goals in 8 games in england now - best player of all time).

    It was a good game, but this is far from a coming of age performance when Barcelona dominated for huge parts of this game. Only some calamitous goalkeeping has let them back in.

    But then, Barcelona aren't they team everyone makes them out to be, and when you get at their defence, they can look average. Have to laugh at all the hype Pique gets

  • Comment number 83.

    Congratulations are in order, but I never doubted they would do it. I'm a Spurs fan, but always fear our most hated of rivals, van Persie in particular. Whether they can finish the job at the Camp Nou remains to be seen, but they've given themselves every chance; Barca will be pushing from the off, which may leave Arsenal able to play on the counter attack.
    I'm slightly miffed by one thing though - Arsenal have been consistently in the Champions League for 14 years - it is no surprise that they are ahead after the first leg; they have won numerous titles and are a very successful big club (do you realise how hard it was for me to say that?!) much more surprising was our 1-0 in Milan - a team in the Champions League for the first time against one of the all time greats, (however poor people think Milan are currently, they're still leading Siere A and boast a team of world beaters) but no blog on that! I kept going on the BBC site yesterday with the tender hope that Phil McNulty or indeed anyone felt the need to blog about us! Alas no, everyone seemed more interested in Gattuso feral-dog-off-the-lead-antics than the merits of the boys!
    No bitterness - like I say, well done the Gooners, but I thought they would be 2-1 up after the first leg; I knew we were good enough to come away with a result there, but anything from a draw to a 2-0 deficit and I wouldn't have thought to badly of the boys in white, such is the starkness in contrast of team expectations. And that, perhaps is my point. Perhaps Phil wasn’t at work yesterday, but surely some other pundits might’ve been. (Perhaps the Beeb thought we would get beat and didn’t have anything in place!)
    I know that Phil has blogged plenty of times about Spurs this season and that it has annoyed other fans, but I feel he could've blogged yesterday too!
    Promise me that, whatever the result when Milan come to the Lane, Phil, that you will blog with either 'Spurs come of age' (sic), 'White Hot Lane' etc or 'A bridge too far for naive Spurs'!
    Whichever befits!
    Cheers Phil!

  • Comment number 84.

    You always felt Arsenal would score, there's a pace and directness about PL teams which simply isn't matched elsewhere in Europe. Last year's result was harsh on Arsenal, they had so many players out/just returning from injury to realistically compete against one of Europe's best. And credit to them for sticking with it last night, and credit to the crowd who were brilliant.

    However I thought they had massive slices of luck - Messi's onside goal, Alex Song's persistent fouling whilst on a yellow card, two handballs in the area. Big game changing decisions which didn't go Barca's way. I'm sure Chelsea fans would say that's karma.

    2-1 is a dangerous lead from the first leg, just ask Roma. But as we saw with Arsenal's second goal, Barca are vulnerable to the counter attack, and I can't imagine Arsenal will defend as poorly as they did last time out. Don't concede early, frustrate Barca and the crowd - and they might just do it...

  • Comment number 85.

    What really has changed for Arsenal this year, is their goalkeeper!

  • Comment number 86.

    Arsenal beat Barcelona 2-1. Arsenal were better than Barcelona. It really is as simple as that.

  • Comment number 87.

    Genuinely pleased for Arsenal, great comeback but with plenty of good fortune. Unfortunately I can't see them winning the tie.

    The offside trap was sprung with alarming regularity, mainly by the overlapping fullbacks. The defence will have to switch on to danger moments like Pedro running offside!! Just because he has, it does not mean for a second he's out of the play, he merely created it!! Barcelona are absolutely brilliant at making the most of the 'active player' aspect of offside play and it's something every opponent has struggled with.

    As for scoring away from home, I think Mr Wenger should play Walcott through the middle. Without the regular centrebacks his pace would frighten Barcelona into playing a much deeper defensive line, and in turn force the midfield deeper and away from the Arsenal goal.

    Probably gonna upset every Gooner here by the next bit, but if Arsenal are going through, Fabregas and Van Persie need to play a lot better than they did last night. As for Alex Song...lucky lucky boy!! If Messi hadn't jumped that slide early in the second half it would have been curtains for him.

    Good luck though, will be a fantastic game in the Nou Camp. Genuinely hope they don't bottle it and come of age, because they haven't......yet!

  • Comment number 88.

    What a Game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    I have often been seen to bash england for the hype surrounding their team and some of the prima donnas in it but.........................

    Have england at last found a real gifted and technically astute guy in
    JACK WILSHIRE????? what a game he had and so much credit should go to him for his composure and assurance at such a young age, he was magnificent! and showed everyone just what he is and will be capable of not only in our Arsenal colours but Englands shirt as well. What a player!

    As we know , its only half time so we enjoy the momment and we yes Arsenal! beat the best club side in the world? with a tremendous effort and with such great support from the fans! well done to all you lot that were there!

    cant wait for the second leg and as the author says we have given Barca a few things to ponder.


  • Comment number 89.

    Excellent result but a bit fortunate in that if Messi's goal hadn't been wrongly disallowed this could have turned into a thrashing (who said Arsenal never get dodgy decisions in their favour).

    The first touch of a lot iof the Arsenal players was poor and they squandered possession cheaply when they had it. Where you have to give Arsenal credit is the way they kept going forward at every opportunity and had teh belief that the longer the game went on teh more chance they had of getting something out of it. The substitutions were a case in point. Guardiola took Villa off thinking job done - match won and Wenger made changes to try and win the game himself. If Arsenal can score and go 1-0 au at half-time at the Nou Camp then they have an excellent chance of going through

  • Comment number 90.

    Great result last night for Arsenal. They withstood the early pressure and hit back.

    Am slightly tired of all this talk of this Barca side being the best ever though. I do think they may be the best in Europe at the moment but they are def over hyped.

    While Messi's goal should have stood the poster earlier who said Arsenal should have had 2 men sent off and Barca two penalties is way off the mark. Arshavin headed the ball accidently onto his arm late in the game, if a penalty is to be given for that then ALL contact with the arm/hand should be given as a penalty whether accidental or not, this of course would result in about 5 penalties a game so is clearly ridiculous.

    Def do hope Arsenal can sneak an early goal at the Nou Camp and then site back and hit Barca on the break. Well done

  • Comment number 91.

    Hmmmm good win. Pleased for an English team to beat them Spanish pansies.

    Credit to Nasri for not shooting or passing to RVP? but passing it to Arshavin instead. Picked the right option!

    No matter how much anyone dislikes Arsenal, I think everyone is happy that an English team has beaten the top team in La Liga. Lets get back to the days of having 4 english teams in the semi-finals ;-) (can that happen?)

  • Comment number 92.


    I think it may be a budget issue. With the cuts being made to BBC sport, it's possible that the football writers are no longer being dispatched to all foreign CL games? When you think about it, it's a lot of £ to spend on a sporadic live text update, a match report, and a blog...

    It will be interesting to see whether McNulty is at WHL for the Milan return leg, and whether he goes to Camp Nou for Arsenal's visit... I think then we can judge whether they're being biased towards the Gooners!

  • Comment number 93.

    I've been waiting to pay Barca back since 19th October 1999, when Barca beat Arsenal 4-2; It was a wonderful evening. Barca are very tight. You make 1 silly mistake and they will punish you in an instant. Arsenal gave them too much respect in the first half by allowing them to pass a lot but that doesn't mean much. Barca didn't allow Arsenal to play, always pressing them. I was very impressed with Arsenal's collective mental strength at the end of the game. Very impressive and almost arrogant with self-belief.

  • Comment number 94.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 95.

    I didn't think Arsenal were going to get back into the game until what I would call a "freakish" goal went in. Valdes is the only weak links in their side. After that you actually believe in yourself.

    Alot of Arsenal fans are getting carried away, but don't forget Messi had a perfectly good goal chalked out and missed a few that he normally wouldn't. Good victory, but you didn't "batter" them like all the Arsenal fans I know are making out! Roll on the 2nd leg

  • Comment number 96.

    Barcelona is indeed in Cataluna but why do sports correspondents play the political game? Why don't sport correspondents refer to Barcelona as Spanish? I never hear sport correspondents refer to Real Madrid as the Castillans.

  • Comment number 97.

    13. At 07:50am on 17 Feb 2011, odooh wrote:

    The game was interesting and the return leg will be a cracker. But there is nothing to celebrate; the truth is Arsenal will be knocked out. Luck helped Wenger's side a lot. Can anyone give the reason for the disallowed goal?
    They beat Arsenal during the finals, they beat Arsenal the other season and in all occasions they did it when Arsenal was on the lead, they will enjoy to do it better this time!!


    Call it excuses but the only time I feel Barca have genuinely outplayed Arsenal was the 4-2 win at Wembley in 1999-2000 season.

    The 2006 finals - Arsenal played almost the entire game with 10 men and took the lead through a set piece that wasnt to be (from Eboue's annoying dive). Barcelona had to wait till late in the game

    Last year's 2nd leg game - Arsenal played with virtually its 2nd string side and people always forget this.

    As for messi's goal being disallowed, I haven't watched it again yet but he was judged off-side, and I think he actually was!

  • Comment number 98.

    Stop going on about the goal that was ruled offside.. its all ifs and buts! Get over it Gooner haters!! UP THE ARSENAL!!

  • Comment number 99.

    Anyway, that debate is for a few weeks, i don't begrudge the Gooners enjoying this moment and celebrating a great result, whilst we can all collectively cock a snook at all of those people who insist La Liga is streets ahead of the EPL!

    Last night actually showed how far Arsenal are from being a Barcelona. Their passing was way off-key. Not being bitter as I've already said good win for Arsenal above but too many Arsenal passes were misplaced. Way too many. I think Arsenal scored those goals by playing good old fast paced counter attacking premiership football. Not because they outpassed Barcelona. Still however the goals came, It was good enough.

    Thats what I thought anyway.

  • Comment number 100.


    Nah, he really wasn't. He was in what might have been deemed an offside position, had the ball been played forward, but crucially he was BEHIND Villa, which makes him not offside in the slightest.


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