“From London With Love” is back, in its – sadly - final edition on your number one source for all Barça-related issues. This feature provides weekly coverage of what is going on in the land of our next UEFA Champions League rival–Arsenal. Every week, guest writer (and a friend of our own writer, Hady) Hasan Noureldin, who happens to be an avid Liverpool and English Premier League fan, will be covering what’s happening in the Emirates Stadium in London. From match details to internal club and transfer issues, this is a chance to look at the upcoming encounter from a neutral’s point of view through a slightly sarcastic lens. Have Arsenal returned to their former selves after their last match which was clearly a joke? Read on to find out.
In the week where they prepare for their biggest test of the season, Arsenal have regained some pride by beating Wolves at the Emirates. They were too powerful for their opponents who shocked Manchester United last week, and Arsenal were at times unplayable.
Aided with an on-form Van Persie, Wolves couldn’t deal with Arsenal’s exuberant style, which at times was too exuberant with them giving passes away within 6 yards of the goal (Fabregas and Wilshere being the guilty parties). Other things Wenger will find quite pleasing was how Arshavin and Walcott sliced open the Wolves defence, with both of them having chances to score goals. It might have ended 2-0, but 5-0 would have been more justified.
This week however, on Wednesday, Arsenal will not face a team like Wolves, they will have to deal with the most in-form team in Europe, Barcelona.
Barca drew against Sporting Gijon, and if it weren’t for a piece of Villa-esque ingenuity, might have found themselves dealing with their second league defeat of the season. Barca weren’t at their best, Sporting’s goal came from a counter attack on Dani Alves’ side, who was around the penalty area. Barca can’t leave spaces on Wednesday; they will have to deal with Walcott and Arshavin, who are capable of creating a goal scoring chance along with Van Persie in a blink of an eye.
Guardiola has to realize that he can’t allow any counter attacks like that, and might actually consider sacrificing Pedro to accommodate another midfielder, perhaps Mascherano. Arsenal are quite possibly the second best team in terms of possession, after Barcelona. Having an extra midfielder there might help not only in breaking up Arsenal’s attacks, but also in letting Alves and co. roam forward and create more chances.
Arsene Wenger, on the other hand, will have to look at his defence and decide who to play, as none of them is capable of stopping Barca. Barca ripped Real Madrid apart in El Clasico, and they are capable of doing the same to Arsenal. Arsenal defensively are not good enough, and when dealing with Villa and Messi, these frailties will be too apparent. Wenger will probably play with a five man midfield, and that is the correct way, but that doesn’t help stop Barcelona.
Another problem for Wenger is quite a big one, it is composed of three people, each a magnificent player on his own, together a formidable force. This problem is the trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi, just saying those names makes you understand the problem.
Each manager will try to figure out what to do – do they force their own game plan, or will they try to change things to nullify the opposition? Arsenal are the most likely to change personnel to deal with Barcelona, but Barcelona are playing away from home; a draw would be a good result.
Trying to figure out this game is like trying to solve a puzzle, each manager is a tactical mastermind, each with his own view of the game, each with their eyes set on a showdown. This match will hopefully prove to be a spectacle, the names of these two great teams justifies that.
Hady’s question to the readers: After this rather good game by Arsenal, who seem to have retrieved their form, do you think Fabregas and his team mates will have a good game against Barca in the Emirates? Or will Barca easily overplay them and win? Personally, I think we’re in for a very challenging game with hopefully many goals – from both sides.
VISCA EL BARCA!
Please share your opinion in the comments section and remember to be respectful of others’ points of view….