Arsenal will have to play defensive football and should curb their natural game if they want to stand any chance, they said.
They said that Arsenal couldn’t possibly hope to have a chance against Barcelona if they persisted with their passing game, after all Barcelona were the best.
Yet Arsene Wenger persisted with his philosophy of playing the beautiful game and the result?
Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona
Arguably Arsenal’s best result at the Emirates. A great display by the Gunners, one that exemplified mental character and oozed with class.
Over the last 6 years Wenger has adopted a different footballing philosophy choosing to nurture young talent and develop players. Wenger gave more importance to developing young talents than buying established and experienced players.
This has resulted in Arsenal not winning a trophy for the last six years and a barren run that has been going on since Arsenal lifted the FA Cup back in 2004.
It’s not that Arsenal haven’t come close. They came close to lifting the Champions League, Premier League and Carling Cup but fell short every time.
Wenger was constantly urged by many to go out and shell out some cash in acquiring skilled players but Wenger kept faith in his boys.
Until this season Arsenal have struggled in the important clashes constantly losing to the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and other heavyweights. Even last season they were annihilated by Messi.
People continued to say that Wenger’s boys were no match for the other teams. Arsenal always struggled to break down these teams and despite Arsenal’s domination of possession they would generally look toothless in front of goal and would fail to cause any real panic in the opposition defense.
But this season the Boys have finally become Men.
And the clash against Barcelona was testimony to the success of Wenger’s plan.
Barcelona are easily the best side in world football right now and possibly the greatest of all time. If Arsenal had one of the best passing games in the world then Barcelona had the best. The likes of Iniesta, Xavi, and Messi make Barcelona a joy to watch.
So it was hard to think how Wenger planned to beat Barcelona by playing the beautiful game. But Arsene Wenger’s men did it and did it in style.
Arsenal created chances and when they had the ball with them they passed it and tried to keep hold of it. Arsenal’s second and the match winner was worthy of winning any game and a goal that would have made any manager proud.
It had everything Wenger stood for: solid defense, sublime passing, vision and a ruthless finish. Arsenal broke from end of the field to another in a flash.
This season despite all the pleas to but experienced players in the summer Wenger stuck his philosophy and continued to play young talent.
In Wednesday’s match Arsenal fielded the likes of Nasri, Wilshere, Song, Koscielny and Szczesny all fairly inexperienced when compared to the likes of Valdes, Pique, Xavi, Iniesta and Villa.
During the summer everyone urged Wenger to sign an experienced defender and a goalkeeper. Yet Wenger chose to continue with his current batch of goalkeepers. Fabianski was brilliant before his injury and on Wednesday, Wojciech Szczesny despite being only 20 put in another solid performance.
Even Koscielny was brilliant, hardly putting a foot wrong as he put in a near flawless performance.
Yet at the end of the day, Arsenal triumphed.
Wenger proved that you don’t need to acquire players like Real Madrid to topple the best, all you need is talent, quality and belief in your own ability and on the night Arsenal possessed each and every one of them.
Throughout this season it has been obvious that this Arsenal side possessed something the sides before them have lacked. The match against Chelsea at the end of 2010 showed signs of massive improvement as Arsenal once again put up a solid performance without altering their tactics.
The match against Barcelona only justified the fact that Wenger’s philosophy and belief has been spot on all along.
Wenger’s faith in his team, his squad selection and his footballing ideology all came into fruition on the night Arsenal conquered the mighty Catalans.
Wenger has always stood by financial fair play, beautiful football and on Wednesday he showed the world just how it was done.
Some may think that this is just one game and it proves nothing. But on the contrary it has justified Wenger’s plans, his philosophy and ideology and is the culmination of his efforts.
Arsenal had fought fire with fire and they triumphed, in style.
That is why Arsenal fans proudly say:
“IN ARSENE WE TRUST”