Ok, I admit it, Arsenal were better than I thought they would be. They were industrious and committed, and showed no fear in the face of quite overwhelming odds. Did they deserve to be beaten 3-1, probably not, in fairness. But football seldom is fair, and we’re shit out of luck.
The problem was, as ever, a lack of cutting edge. I questioned before the game whether our players, in their current form, could be trusted to put the ball in the back of the net when the chances came. They weren’t.
In the first half, very presentable chances fell to Sanchez, Welbeck and Iwobi, and, in each case, they were spurned in the most frustrating fashion. And we’ve seen it so often these last few months.
And on it went into the second half, even after a quite superbly worked goal from El-Nenny, there was a guilt-edge chance for Welbeck, when a lunging tackle was all that stood between Arsenal and a key second goal.
In games of this magnitude, against this calibre of opponent, you may find yourself limited to half chances, or merely just to promising positions, and you have to make them count. We didn’t, Barcelona did.
Coming into the game, I touched briefly on the host’s defence and its lack of strength and stature. I thought it was a defence that could be got at, and so it proved. But it’s one thing recognising that and quite another taking advantage of it.
When they look back the game, Arsene and his team will see another missed opportunity, if only to make more of a contest of it, to ramp up the pressure on a team that has scarcely been under pressure for the last two years.
However, on a positive note, Alex Iwobi took another step forward with a tidy performance in midfield, while David Ospina produced some excellent saves between the posts. Here’s hoping the latter’s form in particular remains as good in the weeks ahead. Good knows we could need him.
We turn our attention now to the weekend and to Everton. If we play at Goodison as we did at the Nou Camp, it should be three points chalked up. But, as we well know, no two performances are ever the same with this team.