I could do my usual in-depth analysis of the match, but it would mostly consist of a VERY long stream of chances that Barcelona created and missed, or Almunia saved.
That Arsenal could easily have gone through to the quarter final despite the battering that Barcelona subjected us to over the two legs merely shows how astonishingly unpredictable football can be. Ultimately, however, I think we need to look at the bigger picture.
First leg, Arsenal were fortunate to gain a victory. Second leg, despite the sending off of Van Persie (however ridiculous), the fact is Arsenal did not have a single shot either on or off target in the entire match and didn't deserve to go through.
Over the two legs, the better team won the tie by a distance, and, overall, more decisions went against Barcelona than went against Arsenal - so for those coming up with stupid conspiracy theories, and for all the ugly protests by Wenger and his team of sore losers, let's stop being ridiculous.
When it came to the major refereeing decisions over both legs, here's what it boiled down to:
Koscielny fouled Pedro in box and got away with it.
Messi had a goal disallowed for no logical reason.
Van Persie was sent off for no logical reason.
Messi should have had a penalty when Diaby clearly fouled him in the box.
Koscielny should have been sent off after conceding a penalty whilst already on a yellow card, then scything David Villa down later in the game.
Ultimately, Barcelona were by far the more hard done by team overall - and on top of that, Arsenal also had the luck, as Barcelona's own goal last night was bizarre to be honest. Arsenal hardly warranted a slice of good fortune in terms of attacking pressure.
In the face of everything going against Barcelona, and the plethora of chances they missed (their own fault), STILL Arsenal could not capitalise on the numerous gifts they were given. In the end, Bendtner had a chance to send Arsenal through in the last few minutes, but fluffed it up.
Arsenal need only look to themselves, only blame themselves, and they should really be thanking the officials more than barracking them.
To be honest, it's a rather dark day for Arsenal Football Club in terms of self respect, and Wenger does the club no favours. When you compare how Guardiola responded after the wrongful decisions that went against Barcelona in the first tie and Wenger's response after the Van Persie sending off, you can clearly see who has a bit of class about them - and it isn't Wenger.
His ludicrous excuses are becoming progressively tiresome and his post-match behaviour often ugly and embarrassing. It's also extremely worrying that Wenger's become so up his own arse about injustices that don't exist in the overall context of things, that he fails to see the bigger picture and has actually convinced himself that Arsenal don't need to strengthen or correct the weaknesses inherent in the squad.
This self-delusion is fatal.
I'd prefer to focus on the tactics, and the fact is Wenger simply did not have the players to successfully implement his tactical approach to last night's game.
As individuals, the Arsenal back five played about as well as they could - but the three in front were utterly hopeless at a) tracking runs from midfield and squeezing play in the middle of the park. b) doing anything with the ball when they got it.
Of the midfield central trio only Wilshire came away with any credit for what he did with the ball, but off the ball he is a hopeless holding midfielder.
I was also dismayed that Arsenal changed their tactic after Van Persie was sent off. The team was still 3-2 up on aggregate, but they panicked and lost their shape completely.
To be honest, the Van Persie sending off should not have affected Arsenal as much as it did, as in terms of possession he had hardly touched the ball. So complete was Barcelona's domination, that everything was being played in Arsenal's half anyway.
I also said that Wenger would be a moron to play Fabregas if he was anything other than 100% fit - and he clearly wasn't fit.
The better team won and, in both matches, had more decisions go against them too. Arsenal can have no complaints. In the end, I put the defeat down to:
A) Barcelona are simply better than Arsenal
B) Wenger doesn't have the players to successfully employ any sort of defensive tactical system
C) Arsenal's lack of maturity and "mental strength" meant that even when given a golden chance to upset the odds, they still fluffed it
It was interesting to watch Revista De La Liga afterwards, where the pundits were unanimous in their criticism for Wenger's tactics, suggesting that he has spent 7 years getting a squad to play "Barca-football", only to throw that philosophy out of the window when they needed it most.
They also suggested that Barca had been outplayed on numerous occasions recently by sides such as Sporting Gijon, Bilbao and Valencia despite them having players not in Arsenal's league, and put the defeat squarely down to Arsenal's inability to do anything with the ball.
However, whilst there's some truth in that, I think we need to consider that Arsenal currently play in a particularly weak league; in reality their supposed pass and move "brilliance" is overplayed and, quite frankly, a phony assertion on most occasions.
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