Barcelona Arsenal Preview: Arsenal Must Go The FIFA 11 Way
Writing a Barcelona preview is a very difficult thing to do. Mostly because a big part of your brain knows that it may well turn out to be an exercise in futility. Because all your talk of tactics, high defensive lines, inverted pyramids, false nines and pre-match inspirational music goes down the proverbial drain if Messi waddles up to the field in his oversize shorts, upturns his penguin nose and says ‘This is boring. I want to score a hat-trick’ and proceeds to chip the goalkeeper from forty yards while simultaneously juggling Argentinean fruit.
So this preview takes the liberty of assuming that Messi won’t go green on us two years in a row, which is not the safest assumption to make, but still. Here are the things Arsenal need to do to have a chance at the Camp Nou and come out heads held high at the least and carrying Xavi’s head on a stick at most.
Make The Barca Defence See The Ball…
With Arsenal players at the end of it, preferably. Barcelona not having their first choice centre back pairing is offset greatly by the fact that the centre backs usually yawn for seventy out of the ninety minutes. We obviously need to play our natural game overall, but lobbing an occasional one over the top and putting in the sporadic cross will only help our cause as there’s every chance of a mix-up. Unfamiliar centre back pairings are prone to mistakes, we’ve found that out the hard way and now it’s time to put those lessons to use. Sprinkle just that little bit of Stoke in our Arsenal casserole.
I realize that most balls over the top risk in it going straight back to them, after which they ping it around for another five minutes. But we’re called Barcelona Lite after all, so our weaknesses should also mirror theirs. So let Clichy whip that ball into the box once or twice, Nick is half decent with headers by all accounts and may bundle one in.
Then again, Nick might not play as a very lethal left foot and chocolatey right foot line up in red and white…
Use RVP, Whether He Starts Or Not…
This is as close to a footballing miracle as it gets. Robin Van Persie, a man who has known to have had slip discs after sneezing, has apparently shaken off a knee injury ahead of time and will travel to Barcelona as part of the line-up. It’s the footballing equivalent of…well, all footballing equivalents elude me. It’s a definite shot-in-the-arm for us and a potential kick-in-the-groin for them unless he pulls his groin while chatting up airhostesses.
Now I know Arsene is a wily old fox, but I don’t think he’ll start RVP. On the off chance that he does, well that just sets a very hungry cat loose among some very frightened pigeons. Assuming that Barcelona just don’t set their feet up before every match and actually study videos of opposition players and make some player-specific plans, they’ll have to revert to other plans very quickly now. Bendtner and Van Persie are like ebony and ivory, only less gay sounding, so whoever their CB’s are going to be will have to wrap their minds around dealing with the Dutchman instead of the Dane. I don’t know if it’ll make any difference, but there.
If however, as suspected, RVP makes the bench and the match is poised with twenty or so minutes to go, it’s going to get very interesting. No one wants a player like Van Persie twisting, turning and shooting on sight in the final moments of a game.
For the match to be poised in the final moments however, we need to do something about the midfield…
Song’s Replacement Has To Have A Stellar Game…
The triumvirate of Cesc, Song and Wilshere have played many games together this season and have, as a result, developed an admirable understanding that allows them to function as a cohesive unit with the enviable package of vision, passing, hard work, tenacity and peroxide blonde hair. But now Song’s out for the game and whoever fills in must not pull the unit down under but keep it floating at the same level of cohesiveness as before.
Denilson had a great game against Barca last season (considering the stinkers everyone else had) but he’s still too much of a variable in big matches for me to be even reasonably optimistic. He had a poor game against Sunderland, his tackling technique blows to be honest and he gets run over far too easily. Not my ideal candidate.
Rosicky is a class player but has been having difficult times recently. There isn’t enough drive throughout the game, he’s too flat and one-dimensional and that’s something I’ve never said of him ever. A step-up on Denilson on current form, but I can’t be completely confident on seeing his name on the line-up either, however much I love him.
Diaby= RAND (1, 10000000);
That’s how many different Diaby’s can turn up on the pitch. I’m not even going to try to predict which Diaby. And I’m also not going to pretend that the above typed code is syntactically correct.
The options don’t seem plentiful by any means. But I wouldn’t have predicted Wilshere to have the game he did in the first leg, so maybe I’m not one to talk.
Finally, like for the first leg…
Go The FIFA 11 Way…
Or at least my FIFA 11 way. This approach is basically limited to when my team doesn’t have the ball. In these instances, I just sit on the ‘pressure’ button and never let go. My players snip, snap and hump the opposition’s legs until they get the ball back. This, in an almost retardified-simplified way, is what Arsenal have to do when they don’t have the ball. Run themselves ragged, be homing pigeons on the ball and fall in love with the ‘pressure’ button.
I’d talk about my offensive tactics as well, but I think they’re too complex for the team to understand. It involves having punching contests with the keyboard, swearing contests with my wing-mates and a rainbow-coloured frog totem from which I take occasional advice. Maybe when I finish my coaching badges…
Whatever the result in this match, I think it’s clearly evident that we’ve improved from last year. This is a far cry from the Sylvestre-containing team that cowered in front of Messi’s ridiculous goal-scoring roughly twelve months ago. And if we do bite the dust (which will be far from the most shameful thing in the world), we have this improvement to fall back on. Trust Arsenal fans to make anything into a trophy, eh?