How Arsenal can beat Barcelona

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How Arsenal can beat Barcelona

Post by ADMIN on Wed 16 Feb 2011, 1:49 pm

Ever since Arsenal and Barcelona were pulled out of the hat to meet in the last 16 of the Champions League, reigning champions Inter Milan have been held up as an example of how to beat the Catalan giants in Europe.

Inter's two-legged win over Barcelona in last season's semi-finals was achieved in the second leg where, reduced to 10 men and hanging on to a 3-1 home leg victory, they were happy to yield possession and committed themselves to all-out defence.

The chances of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger taking a similar approach to then Inter boss Jose Mourinho is even less likely than the prospect of a goalless draw between the Gunners and Barca on Wednesday evening.

Instead, Wenger will get the opportunity to show that attack can be the best form of defence and prove that his team have progressed since they lost to Pep Guardiola's Spanish charges at the quarter-final stages last season.

The problem for the Arsenal boss is that Barcelona have improved too, adding David Villa to their ranks to supplement the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Pedro and Xavi.

Former Arsenal full-back and Match of the Day pundit Lee Dixon has admitted that lots of things will have to go right for Arsenal to make the last eight this time.

But, apart from the recent 4-4 Premier League draw at Newcastle where they had Abou Diaby sent off, he has seen signs they have become more solid in defensive areas.

He has also identified aspects where the Gunners can play to their attacking strengths.

"Arsenal were a bit naive last year against Barca in the first leg," Dixon said. "They thought 'we can go out and play as well' and they ended up being too open.

"That's not to say they have to play defensively this time, but they didn't get tight enough, especially in Barcelona's midfield, which is now as strong as ever.

"I don't think Arsenal can change their approach. They have got such a forward thinking mentality that they stick to it, but if they are to get any joy against Barca then they will need width and it's not something that always comes naturally.

"At times, Arsenal play quite centrally with short passes and try and play their way through teams so I think Theo Walcott could be a key player for them."

That proved to be the case last season, where Walcott's introduction in the home leg helped Arsenal claw their way back from 2-0 down to secure an unlikely 2-2 draw.

"I don't think Barca have the best defensive full-backs," Dixon added. "And I'd actually like to see Walcott play on the left cutting in on his right foot against right-back Dani Alves."

With Alves one of Barcelona's rampaging outlets, there would be plenty of space to exploit and the England winger has also been more positive in Europe this season, improving the frequency of his goals, his shots on goal and their accuracy.

Another aspect that Dixon has urged is a premium on possession, which is something Arsenal have improved on in the attacking third in the Premier League this season.

"You would like to think that as good as Barcelona are, Arsenal will have the ball for a fair share of the game which means the opposition hasn't got it," he stated. "The more you restrict Messi, Iniesta and Xavi from having the ball, the better.

"If you know you are going to get it back then you can be a bit sloppy in some of your passing or you might try and knock a few risky balls. That is clearly not going to be the case here so it's very important Arsenal treat the ball like money."

Arsenal have been described as Barcelona-lite for their attacking approach but if they are to succeed this time, Dixon said, the Gunners need to replicate some of the Spanish champions' defensive qualities too.

Guardiola's team are renowned for their collective pressing with the Spanish coach reasoning that the higher up the pitch his team win the ball, the closer they are to the opposition goal.

The key factor when attempting to do this is that groups of players are involved, allowing deeper midfielders or defenders time to adjust their positions.

However, Wenger's team are not noted for their shape when they don't have the ball.

They are particularly vulnerable to counter attacks with statistics showing that over the past two Premier League seasons they have conceded the highest percentage of goals this way, with only Wigan conceding more in number.

"When you lose the ball against Barca, wherever you are on the pitch, there has almost got to be an instant blueprint that you go to," Dixon explained.

"Obviously you react to where the ball is, but I think their positioning elsewhere on the pitch has to be quicker. It has almost got to be instantaneous."

This also goes for closing down space when Barcelona are further forward. That is when the importance of midfielders Jack Wilshere and Alex Song is underlined.

"I was watching Messi in the 1-1 draw against Sporting Gijon on Saturday and he goes off and wonders around the pitch but then he just stands still in front of the back four with other players just running off him," added Dixon.

"He's brilliant at it, and then all of a sudden the ball comes to him and he's 15 yards outside your penalty area and he's off. That's why that area is a really key one. Wilshere, for example, has to be disciplined.

"Sometimes because he is so young, the 19-year-old can get a bit enthusiastic and go off and leave Song on his own, but against Barca that would not be wise.

"Going forward Arsenal have got enough about them to worry any team. I don't think they should back down on attacking, but I think the transition into defence is the major thing they can improve on. It might be the aspect that earns them a decent result.

"How things work defensively is not something at the forefront of Wenger's mind most of the time. He's aware of defence but it's not a priority for him which could be their downfall.

"They are more than capable of scoring against anyone so any sort of victory would represent a good result and even a 0-0 is never a bad thing in Europe at home."

Betting odds of 14-1 suggest that is unlikely. Yet if Arsenal can retain their attacking instincts while remaining compact they could be capable of springing a bigger surprise.

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Re: How Arsenal can beat Barcelona

Post by Fernando on Wed 16 Feb 2011, 2:47 pm

push the lb and rb in to make a compact 4 in the middle of defence and let them have the wing cos everything they do goes through the middle. means arshavin and theo are going to have to track back. i believe we can get at maxwell and milito with theo

it'll be closer then people expect

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Re: How Arsenal can beat Barcelona

Post by Mad for Chelsea on Wed 16 Feb 2011, 2:52 pm

agree with what fernando says. The keys to beating barcelona are IMO
1) Press them hard in your own half (about 35 meters out).
2) Force them out wide, their best play always go through the middle, they don't have an aerial threat so make them cross the ball and deal with the crosses.
3) Don't be flustered if they keep the ball for long periods of time, don't go chasing the ball (see point 1)

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Re: How Arsenal can beat Barcelona

Post by Fernando on Wed 16 Feb 2011, 3:18 pm

for don't press the ball look at chelsea vs liverpool

liverpool out came out to defend when chelsea entered their half.


it also depends on how much the ref buys their play acting e.g. busquets

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