Mar 31

Match Report: Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona

Arsenal battled back brilliantly to score two goals and earn a draw with Barcelona in the Champions League quarter final — keeping their European ambitions alive in the process.

The current European Champions Barca wereall over Arsenal throughout the first half and the Gunners were very lucky to go into half-time with the score 0-0.

Brilliant goalkeeping by Manuel Almunia and key blocks from the Arsenal defenders kept the first-leg match from being all over by the 15th minute.

Arsenal’s Starting XI & Subs

Almunia
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Fabregas – Song – Diaby
Nasri – Bendtner – Arshavin

Subs: Fabianski (GK), Campbell, Eboue, Denilson, Rosicky, Walcott, Eduardo.

Arsenal’s luck ended around 30 seconds after the restart when Zlatan Ibrahimovic latched onto a long ball punted downfield by Gerard Pique and lifted it over Almunia.

Ibrahimovic, who atoned for earlier misses, scored his second in the 59th minute when he beat the offside trap. He was unmarked when he blasted the ball past Almunia from the right after Alex Song failed to get tight enough to the Swede.

Theo Walcott pulled a goal back for Arsenal three minutes after going on as a substitute when he struck a low shot past Victor Valdes from the right after a pass from Nicklas Bendtner in the 69th.

Arsenal continued to pile pressure on in the latter stages and it paid off when Cesc Fabregas was brought down by Carles Puyol in the 84th and the captain converted the penalty to equalise. Puyol was sent off and Barcelona played the rest of the match with 10 men.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on the game:

“We looked nervous to begin with. We gave the ball away too quickly, but in fairness they kept going and they missed chances and we did. The regret I have – and I don’t deny we played against a great side – but we gave two cheap goals away. It is beyond understanding.”

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45 Responses to “Match Report: Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona”

  1. Mikey says:

    Wow.

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  2. Dan says:

    Anyone know enough about Barca to know who their CBs will be without Pique and Puyol?

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  3. Gooner Chris says:

    Milito and Marquez are their most likely centre back pairing for next week.

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  4. damstar says:

    they will play yaya toure and rafael marqez at the cb in the nou camp

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  5. majanizzleee says:

    I think it would be a Marquez-Milito CB-pair

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  6. Malo says:

    Hell of a game. We were extremely fortunate and still in with a shout. The gulf in class and maturity between the two teams however, is staggering. I think we have no recourse next week BUT to attack – unleash Eboue, Walcott – hell, even Vela. Barcelona had no response to Walcott’s explosiveness.

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  7. damstar says:

    i think they will look like: alves marquez/milito yaya toure abidal

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  8. Dan says:

    @Gooner Chris:

    I’d play Walcott then… they’re both Uber slow.

    Just keep playing balls over the top cos we can’t match em for passing.

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  9. Osi says:

    Two very cheap goals made all efforts before that irrelevant. What can we do about Almunia to come out like he did for the first goal to nowhere is really no class at all. The second goal was also at his near post. But what happened to other midfield guys who gave Barca too much respect. Anyway this sounds like a win for Arsenal for me as they fought back against opponents like this. Better luck next time at NOU.

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  10. gooner james says:

    we are by no means out of this the two centre backs wont no wat 2 do if arshavin and walcott are running at them from the wings and if they play yaya toure then one of there attacking players has 2 b rested hopefully iniesta or xavi just hope we dont lose gallas and arshavin as weve already lost super cesc.

    cum on the gunners we can do this.

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  11. Dan says:

    @gooner james:

    Arshavin run??

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  12. Malo says:

    @Osi

    I agree about the cheap goals. This team is still too naive. But at least we didn’t roll over. God – Barcelona were incredible weren’t they? This team has much to learn.

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  13. Dan says:

    Bendtner should of scored that header too.

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  14. ryan says:

    fabregas wat commitement he has to keep playing even when injured one of his best moments for the club in my opion

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  15. joni goonah says:

    who needs messi henry xavi iniesta zlatan when you have Manuel ‘Deigo Pele’ Almunia..

    man of the match performance again from our spanish superstar waiter.. he must be our top assist/scorer this season..

    thank you for that Arsene.. plucking him from the spanish 2nd division side and to nurture him to be a legend!

    oh and btw.. we aint gonna win shit with Barndoor Bendtner.. whole of the goal to aim.. free header.. supposedly the only decent thing he can do.. and where did he put it.. straight to the goalkeeper.. luvly day to be a gunner.. Arsene knows..

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  16. Emperor Gooner says:

    barcelona might be the better team but that doesn’t decide who progresses to the semis now does it??? they failed to take their chances,,we made it 2-2…we can win this one!!

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  17. Murt says:

    Don’t give rats arse about how we played, the result is all that matters! BUT what about diaby? I mean that was by far his worst game of the season! I think he’ll pick it up for the 2nd leg though.

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  18. Larrytony says:

    Let me begin by saying am happy with the result. The only thing that am unhappy about is the injuries, as this may lead to losing at barca. Clichy gave more than 100% and if all arsenal players play like he did then we could have won the match.

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  19. Malo says:

    @Emperor

    Of course, we must take our chances. We were far more efficient in converting our few chances compared to Barcelona tonight. But such naivete will be punished next week. We were lucky tonight. Nothing wrong with getting a bit of luck, but we MUST take advanatage of it.

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  20. ARSENAL B says:

    to honest that was painful.
    but my man of the match was……….DENILSON,most people that dont know alot about football will say walcott(sure he helped),but as soon as denilson came we developed a midfield,cos to me fabregas should never of played.
    i was happy to see arshavin come of cos were playin barca & we need hard workers.
    song played well,vermelean made 2 big mistakes in markin messi of the back line WTF,just keep the line.
    wengers tactics where shit & he knows it.playin gallas after being out for 2months was crazy,played a injured fabregas was retarded.YES HE WANTS TO AGAINST HE’S CHILDHOOD TEAM BUT DAMN.
    AND NOT STARTIN WITH EBOUE WAS THE WROONG THING TOO DO.
    and as amazing as alumina was in the first 20 mins that first goal was made by HIM,I MEAN WHY COME OUT?????????WE STILL NEED A BETTER(r young polish keeper at brentford) GOALKEEPER NEXT SEASON.
    ARE TEAM LACKS ALOT OF PACE DEZZZ DAYS.
    all in all am over the moon that we some how got back in the tie.
    i think a midfield of diaby nasri & denilson may be better then havin fabregas(slow as fuck)on a big pitch.
    clichy was great,sagna still cant cross,bendtner is just NOT a arsenal calibar player,when puyol can out pace you,you know ur slow,hes touch is not world class… SORRY BUT THATS WATZ NEEDED to be the best team in europe & win things.you guys can go on about bendtner as if he really ever will be a world class forward.
    ……………..it had to be said,sorry.

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  21. Marko says:

    Milito and Marquez which might be good for us since Puyol and particularly Pique are such brilliant defenders. The only way we’re gonna get through this tie though is with a much better midfield performance next week. Hopefully we can still do it but it’ll be tough cause the first hour tonight Barcelona were out of this world. No team could of coped with them.

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  22. TJ says:

    @ryan: Totally agree about Cesc. No big time Charlie, he wasn’t thinking of a summer move or the world cup – just wanted to carry on playing for the team. Not his greatest footballing performance, because of his fitness, but what a captain – almost Tony Adams like.

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  23. Michael says:

    That was the best game ever!

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  24. Malo says:

    @Marko

    Agreed. I was rather embarassed at our performance during the first 20. Very much inspired by the fightback though. They are developing some cajones, this team. But my God…all the talk about us and Barcelona being the ambassadors of the beautiful game…we got schooled tonight. We’ll see if the boys can turn it around. It was pretty mcuh a loss for Barcelona in my eyes after dominating SO comprehensively. They will not be as sure of themselves. Losing Pique and Puyol, not to mention the result…I expect a tight game next week. We have a good chance.

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  25. BillyGallas says:

    Denilson was Unreal when he came on…

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  26. Marko says:

    @Malo: Going into the second leg still in it is all we can ask for. We all know the amount of people that are gonna be on complaining about this player and that and complaining about Wenger but for heaven’s sake Chelsea or United couldn’t of handled Barcelona they way they played tonight they were simply outstanding. I’d like to see Rosicky get a midfield spot next week cause his experience and ability on the ball will be needed.

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  27. Barndoor Bendtner says:

    This match certainly puts paid to the myth that Arsenal dont have fight and determination. Any other team would have slashed their wrists after the first half, but we stuck in there and did enough things right to grab a lifeline.
    I dont think we should criticise any of the team because they all put a shift in tonight. My one negative comment was that Diaby couldn’t bring the ball under control all night, but he still deserves credit for effort alone.

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  28. biscuit says:

    @ all those slating Bendtner, Please remember he had a hand in both Goals. He played through ball for Theo and his header set us Cesc to get penalty. Plus his hold up play was really good.

    Great team performance

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  29. damstar says:

    we now need the luck and the spirit of san siro to see us through at the nou camp…up arsenal..keep the faith!!!!!!!!

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  30. clockendjim says:

    Never thought I would be saying this, but Denilson was our best player when he came on. If he had started instead of a half fit Cesc, then Barcelona would never have had such freedom of the midfield for the first half.
    Couldn’t believe the wonder saves Almunia was making at the start of the game, but it couldn’t last could it; he came rushing out to give Ibrahimovic an easy lob over. But both their goals came about because Clichy was missing from his wing once more. This has happened too many times this season.
    Biggest disappointment for me was a non-performance from Diaby, he just seemed overawed. It was also the poorest Vermaelen has been to date.
    I agree with Marko, Rosicky should figure next week playing forward with Nasri dropping back to do the Fabregas job.

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  31. Billy says:

    Gallas pulled a calf out for the season. Not really unexpected. It was a gamble worth taking but didnt come off.

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  32. ARSENAL B says:

    this should of been the starting line up
    ALUMINA
    SAGNA SONG VERMELEAN CLICHY

    DENILOSN DIABY
    NASRI
    EBOUE ROSICKY
    AHHHH=( BENDTNER
    WENGER MAKES ME MAD SOOOO MUCH

    DENILSON WAS A 9/10 TODAY TOOO ME
    &&&&&&&&&&&& THE FANS WERE RIGHT WENGER SHOULD OF BROUGHT 2 CENTRAL DEFENDERS.
    FOR NEXT SEASON LET GALLAS(33),SENDEROS(25),CAMPBELL(36),SILVESTRE(34) ALLLL LEAVE & BUILD THAT FUCKING BUY SOME DEFENDERS.DAMN
    I REALLY THINK WE DO NEED A NEW STRIKER,I MEAN DUDU,BENDTNER ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH,THE TRUTH HURTS=((((//BUT AM LOOKIN FORWARD TO THE GAME IN DA NOU CAMP=))))))

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  33. suhel says:

    wat a game

    some shit hole is critcizing nik52 for me he was man of the match
    he assited twice and controlling

    leave bentner alone

    arsenal for life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  34. andrew says:

    Hardly anyone has mentioned how well theo did when he came on, the game really changed and he scared the shite out of that maxwell

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  35. guy says:

    barcelona have a lot of choice for cb. milito, marquez, toure, chrygynski. i think arsenal need to unleash Vela and walcott on the wings. raw pace

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  36. Ken says:

    It would have been game over had it not for Almunia. The 2 goals wasn’t totally his fault, it was more because of our poor offside trap. They have the away goals advantage but without Pique and Puyol we will score at least a goal or two past their net at Nou Camp for sure.

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  37. bradical8 says:

    in my opinion clichy and nasri played brilliantly today. Also denilson deserves a lot of credit for coming on and controlling the midfield after gallas went down. I thought it was his best performance of the season. And finally walcott made a massive difference in the final 20 min, and what a goal! Lets go Gunners

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  38. damstar says:

    gallas out for the season

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  39. ARSENAL B says:

    AM NOT SAYING BENDTNER PLAYED SHIT COS HE PLAYED KINNA GOOD,BUT STILL IS NOT ARE NEXT HENRY,WRIGHT,VAN PERSIE,BERGKAMP…………I WISH & HOPE AM WRONG ABOUT THIS BUT AM NOT,,,,,,& GETTIN 2 TAP IN’S & A PENALTY DOESNT MAKE YOU GREAT.

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  40. Simon says:

    You’re on sky sports are saying that cesc left the emirates on crutches and that he thinks he might have broken his fibula!

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  41. Jack says:

    The first half was embarrasing to watch. We got played off of the park and Almunia kept us in it. Second half, we didnt start well and we got caught twice by Vermaelen trying to do two things at once. Diaby was diabolical and didn’t really give much to the team. Song was again impressive both in midfield and at the back but for me Denilson was outstanding. Probably his best game in an Arsenal shirt. I think I saw him misplace one pass and he can proud of his performance. Obviously, Walcott changed the game and lets hope he can do the same at the Nou Camp. The one problem I have with Theo is when he starts games, he’s anonymous but hopefully he can change that. On Barca’s CB situation, I think Barca will go Toure and Milito at the back next week.

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  42. gounerz says:

    from my point of view, the biggest reason we were able to attack and get chances was that we didnt hold the ball too long. during past league games, we hold the ball too much in the middle of the park and end up square-passing it to each other. usually it was bendtners fault since his legs are made of solid timber with almost no ability to dribble smoothly but tonight he made quick short passes that one of them assisted walcott. denilson was massive, he paid full attention and commitment to messi and xavi but vermalaen was a bit hotheaded that he wanted to push up too much and exposed the back line. almunia is a really confusing human. made some good saves and then completely blunders big time. all in all, we are still in it, barcas defending will get a reshaping but their attacking line will still be the same, so we need to be aware of that. lets hope that iniesta wont be in the return game and their forward line gets some injury time.

    if we win a trophy this season, be it the CL or league, im gonna say its down on luck. we are still not there yet as a real, trophy-winning team and barca gave us a good lesson today. we still need a new solid keeper, another strong defender and a striker to challenge and/or support rvp and arshavin. maybe we need more than three since there will surely be players going out this summer and we must have experienced new faces to fight for places and keep the dressing room fresh and together. we made it today because everyone was fighting for everyone.

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  43. fraster says:

    Terrible game for us, we keep some chances to qualify but, if at Emirates was a hell, I can’t imagine how will be at Nou Camp, they will crush us….and the worst thing is Cesc injury, it would be so serious….
    The refeering was so bad, too much yellow cards for our players, and too much injured today, with Arshavin & Gallas….what do we do for next EPL game????
    Great goal from Walcott, he was the key factor today, with Song & Almunia. All of them was outstanding.

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  44. Lady Arsenal says:

    Barca weren’t that good. They’re not that good. They simply had a tactical plan and worked very hard, covering the pitch quicker. They didn’t play particularly artful football, it’s just that the runners weren’t being picked up by the Arsenal players, who were too nervous to impose themselves. They scored from two hopeful balls over the top. Their high tempo and fitness relative to arsenal saw them very tired by the 70th minute.

    Arsenal were pretty awful, and we let them pass it, almost paralysed by a mixture of fear and admiration. Fabregas was at 40%, no-one wanted the ball and frankly we were embarassing. We didn’t play our game. I don’t want to get into a blame game but that lack of collective belief under pressure is starting to annoy me now. All I really wanted to say is that there is no huge gap in class or quality, but there was in terms of mentality. We can definitely beat them at the Nou Camp, where there will be less pressure on us, but I fear we’re too self-conscious and maybe not mentally ready.

    Anyways, Wolves are much tougher than many predict. They play very compact and break quickly. Exactly the type of game plan to frustrate Arsenal. Come on you gunners

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  45. personaly i think a lot of our perfomance was lacking coz of the mental ability of our players and too much respect shown torwards the Barca players but when Denilson came on he controled the midfield hats off to him he deserves a round of Bells that young lad,diaby was quiet he was not as resourceful as he usualy is and Fabregas tho he commanded the spirit of Tony Adams fighting on to the end i think he wasn’t fully in the game maybe it was him not being fully fit or exerting too much pressure on himself coz he felt he had somthing to prove, and Walcott oh mann if he plays as well as he did last night then Maxwell will be shittin in his pants and that will result in them putting too much focus on trying to stop his runs like we were doing to Messi that usualy opens space for other midfielders Clichy was real good as well and him and Nasri were making pretty good exchanges i hope this fight bek will be a mental boost, barcelona like we do sometimes also panicked when we brought the game to them our players should draw positives from that Rosicky will step up im sure of that and Vela’s pace will be useful as well if he comes on as a sub which i’m sure he will. Vermealen not at his best today but im sure he will be bek to his best again come 6 April everyone needs to put in work if we are to win the 2nd leg.People are always complaining about us not havin enough cover fine we need new defenders and a striker but you need to remember that our squad is just as big as any other we just have too many injuries than most teams hence we always feel the effects more with the way we play and how small our players are and the game being more physical and ol we are bound to feel the effects than most teams, but seriously tho Barcelona has more skill we have more pace why can’t we opt for our pacey game in Spain

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