February 23, 2016:  UEFA Champions League, Round of 16, Leg 1

Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona

Arsenal gave away two great chances early and then proceeded to forget what they were doing about midway through the second half. Wenger opted for a defensive minded strategy and hoped to hit on the counter, and it looked to be working fairly well. And as predicted, the major factors keeping Barcelona from scoring were Cech and a fairly organized defense (and Suarez being oddly off the mark today). But the Arse got a little greedy, got smoked by one of the best attacks in the world, and then got #FlamJammed.

  • Alexander Mark David Oxlade-Chamberlain was mostly useless on offense. He blew a massive chance up front on a rebound from a Bellerin shot and just really hasn’t been on form. I was disappointed to see him get the start over Campbell and so was Campbell’s Soup who most likely relies on his play for the majority of their advertising.  Theo came on for him early in the second half and was almost as useless.
  • Alexis Sanchez, who is one of my favorites because he works so damn hard every time he’s on the field, has not been his usual dangerous self. His biggest asset recently has been to draw fouls like Picasso at a chicken painting contest.  BOOM.  Chicken joke.
  • Koscielny got nutmegged big time by Messi and then fouled the crap out of him accidentally because he was so nutmegged. This is like going to Starbucks, buying the drink for the guy behind you in line, and then dumping it on his head when it arrives. Or in other words, “giving him the beans.”
  • In the second half Giroud had a great chance palmed off the line and not long after an absolute bazooka blast from Sanchez was blocked from about 10 yards out.
  • It all started unraveling around 68 minutes in when Arsenal started pressing and then Giroud inexplicably passed a great chance up and instead thought the ball would be better situated out of bounds. It was an omen. It meant “you suck.” Arsenal despite this obvious omen kept pressing hard.  You could tell they really wanted a goal. It was palpable. Unfortunately for Gooners, it didn’t work out. Wenger wants you to know though, Gooners, it’s not you, it’s him.
  • Wenger lamented the lack of focus in the second half – “We were disciplined defensively but we knew that if we had to keep it at 0-0, we would keep it at 0-0. They are better than us, everybody knows that, but I think we could’ve won the game tonight if we kept the discipline until the end.”
    • All they had to do was not press everyone up the pitch and keep to the game plan, but they are Arsenal after all and love to make their fans confused about the meaning of life. On the play that sprung the first goal, Mertesacker is a bit too far up the pitch and needs to make a sliding attempt to stop the counter. This is the type of slide the kid who picks daisies in the middle of the game makes the one time the ball comes near him.
    • Coquelin and Ramsey were no where to be seen and I’m not sure even Ozil was on the field. I’m serious I couldn’t find him.
    • I honestly feel bad for Nacho Monreal. He seems like he cares so much and all he gets is people trying to put olives and jalepenos on him.
    • Here’s the goal, what a mess.  Beautiful for Barca.  Fat and hideous for Arsenal.  Gorgeous for Barca. Troublesome and likely carrying disease for Arsenal.
  • Ramsey really should have scored soon after the goal but the Barca goalie made a pretty good stop. I’m starting to wonder if Ramsey works on his shooting or if he just punts soccer balls into the parking lot and has a good laugh during practice
  • Can we talk about Mathieu Flamini for just a second? If you guys don’t know, I’m a bit perturbed by him being stuck into the lineup so often for Arsenal. He basically makes things very hectic, plays striker when he should be playing bingo, and just generally has a care-free double foot slide tackling maniacal preposterousness about him.  I was delighted to see the frenchman Coquelin starting today but for some reason Coq was pulled off for Flamini in the 81st minute. One minute later, he fouls Messi in the box and the Gunners’ go down by 2 goals. Arsenal’s hopes and dreams? They were #FlamJammed.
  • I mean seriously look at this maniac. Yes, Mertesacker’s pass (is that even a pass, it’s more like he farted and his leg kicked out accidentally moving the ball just enough to ruin my day) is horrible. But look at Flamini’s face right before he slides. He’s definitely thinking “Oh Yes YES YES I’m going to kick the sh*t out of this guy!”

“Who you gotta bite around here to get a call” – Suarez with a loose grip on the rulebook. A strong grip on cheeses and hard apples, however.

At the end of the day, Barcelona is the better team and Arsenal beat themselves with stupid mistakes and poor finishing. Pretty typical.

 

-Hoof Notes