Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona: Well-Fought But Not Our Day

Have a look at Twitter right now and you'd think we have just lost, say, 2-1 to FC Midtjylland. You also will see a ton of lazy "Same Old Arsenal" type analysis from the usual know-nothing brigade, but it's simply not true. Arsenal fought hard and well against arguably the best team in the world (Munich is the only other side in the argument for me), and could easily have won by the reverse scoreline had a few big moments went in the other direction.

Me? I'm proud of my team today.

As you'd expect, Barcelona had a lot of the ball. But, they went the entire first 45 without getting a shot on Petr Cech, a feat that was last accomplished roughly back when Alexander the Great was the real all-conquering force. Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin sat back a lot further than they usually do, and it helped with keeping things tight and closing down space.

(Side note: I was working while watching the match, so I mostly spent the time watching in 15-20 second clips - so, I can't say I saw everything.)

We should have taken the lead, too. I mean, I'm at a point now where I just don't know what to think about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. All the tools are there, but you can't teach composure or a predatory instinct. A scramble in their area led to Ox having the ball right around the penalty spot, dead central with no blue shirts near him and the keeper nowhere. Somehow, he managed to toe-poke a gentle daisy-cutter right at Marc-Andre ter Stegen's prone body. My god. Stephen Hawking would have put that away.

I suppose in hindsight the game was up there, really. It certainly didn't help that there seemed to be yet another UEFA directive along the lines of "Barcelona Shalt Not Lose". The weird thing is that I reckon that Cunyet Cakir is the best referee in the world right now. He's had some big games, with big decisions to go with it, and he's always gotten them right. His performance today, taken in that light, seems off to me. You know, like some envelopes changed hands or his family was locked in some Swedish allotment shed or something. Odd.

It did mean that Nacho took an early yellow card, and somehow Jordi Alba - that odious little twat - wasn't sent off about 50 times over. They also could have seen yellows for various smelly bits of play-acting, but what can you do?

Playing 11-on-12 the whole game, our guys did OK. I keep coming back to that.

Other than that, their lot really weren't that good. I can easily see Munich giving these guys something to think about if they turn up to the final like this. Bitey Luis Suarez missed a couple of sitters, and we all howled.

Anyway, at some point Ox went off injured, the delayed result of a horror collision with that psychopath Javier Mascherano. Theo Walcott came on in his place, and accomplished exactly nothing that I can remember. Alexis Sanchez was a bit off on the day too, but the guy is coming off an injury and last had a solid period of rest in the Tony Blair administration, soooooo....

There were still opportunities on our end - Olivier Giroud had a fabulous header clawed out by ter Stegen, and the German later used his body well to block a point-blank shot by Ramsey. That was the Welshman's only offensive contribution of the match other than about 12,000 misplaced passes. As for Giroud, his hold-up play and cushioned headers were brilliant, but any time he had to use his feet it looked like he hadn't worked out that the guys in red were the ones that are his mates. There was one pass where Theo made an excellent run and Giroud ended up backheeling to nowhere, and another where he should have had a go when he was best placed.

The sucker-punch came on 70 minutes, as the Gunners let their discipline get away from them. We got sucked in high up the pitch, BFG fell over like a loon at midfield, and poor old Nacho was left to either cover Neymar on the ball or Messi running towards the back post. I'd have wanted him to take away the pass if I were in goal, and take my chances with the shooter. Nacho instead came over, easy pass, easy tap-in.

The worst bit is, even at 0-1, I don't think the tie was over. Gerard Pique took a yellow at one point, leaving him suspended for the second leg. I'd have liked my chances on the counter without him there, but the second goal was a killer. We were doing OK still - Danny Welbeck came on for a decent cameo - but again the defending was ludicrous. BFG - who at this point really needs to be taken out back behind the shed to see the rabbits - fluffed a clearance he should have hoofed somewhere out onto the Hornsey Road. It came out to Messi, and Mathieu Flamini ended up taking his legs away. It never should have been on him though, and pelters he's getting on Twitter is embarrassing. Come on people, we're smarter than this.

So, yeah. Penalty, 0-2, ballgame.

Look, I see it like this: We fought our asses off against an incredible team (of cunts, but still), and remember that last year we were getting turned over by fucking Monaco. We're still in with a shout for two trophies. We're due a good old-fashioned ass-kicking of someone. Why not do it and send LVG out on the dusty trail forever? If our guys play with the same heart and commitment that they did today, we're going to turn them over something fierce.

As for this? I've already forgotten it. On to better things.

Man of the Match:  Messi. Whatever.