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Thursday, February 17, 2011


It is always a pleasure to talk, and write, about a game one has just seen, provided that the game has been of the highest quality, and the game played between Arsenal and Barcelona on 16/2/11 is one such occasion that deserves to be written about.

Barca scored first in the first half through David Villa via a defence-splitting pass from an excellent Lionel Messi, before Arsenal levelled through a Robin van Persie strike from a narrow angle just outside the six-yard box found its way past Victor Valdes in the Barcelona goal. Moments later, Andrei Arshavin, he who should have his index finger cut off, scored the winner for Arsenal from close range and, instead of his usual irritating celebration, threw his shirt over his head.

A deserved win for Arsenal, but only just, as there were comparatively few shots on goal from either side throughout the game.

No matter. The technical quality was breathtaking from start to finish. There were maybe five corners taken in the whole of the game, maybe fifteen throw-ins taken to boot, but it was, in spite of five yellow cards dished out by my man of the match, Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli - who refereed the game stylishly and unobrtusively, always using the advantage rule to full effect- thoroughly enthralling.

Robin van Persie had the first real chance, well saved by Valdez, after some fine masterly dribbling work by young Master Theo Walcott and a nifty ball through by Cesc Fabregas, both of whom performed to the highest level throughout (in Walcott's case, until he was substituted by The Gunners' Danish Honey Monster, Nicklas Bendtner, before van Persie's equaliser).

Arsenal's third keeper, Wojchech Szczesny performed more than creditably throughout, but he was given no chance after 26 minutes when Loinel Messi's intricately threaded through-ball found the foot of David Villa, who did the expected by side-footing the ball to the Pole's left.

In between Villa's opener and van Persie's well-taken equaliser, there were indeed few chances of note, but the football was both technically enthralling and intoxicating, not to mention sporting in the extreme. Fouls were rare, and, as mentioned, Rizzoli had the game well and truly under control, ably assisted by his linesmen. Talk about pass and move; the first 20 minutes were breathless, with the ball barely leaving the ground, and although the tempo slowed somewhat as the game went on, the manner in which the game was played barely altered, and the pass and move style from both teams throughout the game was an absolute joy to behold.

What a difference from the game in the Giuseppe Meazza/San Siro last night, if reports are to be believed. (Your correspondent did not see the game between AC Milan : Spurs due to educational committments.) A goal from Der Crouchmeister (ahem, Peter Crouch) made all the difference, as did a rather reckless two-footed tackle from AC Milan's Mathieu Flamini on Tottenham's Vedran Corluka.

According to some of those who saw the match, it changed the whole athmosphere of the game, with Gennaro Gattuso having a couple of run-ins with Spurs' assistant manager Joe Jordan, so much so that Gattuso and Jordan had verbal (and physical) run-ins during the remainder of the 90 minutes, which led to Gattuso rather tamely head-butting Jordan after the final whistle.

If both were let loose in an enclosed space last night, my money would have been on Joe Jordan to come out on top. They would have still been looking for bits and pieces of Gattuso in the second tier of the Giuseppe Meazza.. Never mind the handbags in Milan, though, I am looking forward, to 8/3/11, to seeing the footballing ballet in the Nou Camp that is surely to come between Barcelona and Arsenal. Can't wait.

1 comment:

  1. I agree Paddyhen!!!

    A thoroughly entertaining game unlike watching AC Milan the night before. Never been so glad to see Spurs win a game in my life.

    Well written young (old) sir!