Thursday, 1 April 2010

Arsenal vs Barcelona - Match Ratings

By Shane Thomas


Manuel Almunia - Was literally unbeatable in the 1st half. But part of the reason why Fabio Capello has no intention of including him in his England squads was demonstrated by his awful error of judgement that led to Barcelona's first goal. 7 (out of 10)

Bacary Sagna - Normally a solid presence, but was as affected as much as the rest of the Arsenal defence were by Barcelona's attacking prowess. Was substituted to accommodate Walcott. 6

William Gallas - Was not ready for a game such as this and should never have been picked. Suffered a recurrence of his calf problem and left the pitch on a stretcher. 5

Thomas Vermaelen - Was not solely responsible for Barca's two goals but lack of understanding with Song cost Arsenal dear. Obviously not ready to lead the Arsenal defence just yet. 6

Gael Clichy - Continued with his maddening tendency to back off his marker, but at times was Arsenal's best attacking presence. Thrusting runs down the left combined with a fine cross in the second half that Bendter should have done better with. 7

Emmanuel Eboue - Was brought in to try and shore up Arsenal's right hand side, and in that respect performed competently. Pity he couldn't do more damage going forward though. 6

Alex Song - Has become one of Arsenal's key players so the club can ill afford for him to have games such as this. Was given the run around by Messi until he was moved to centre-half. Then Zlatan gave him the run around instead. Played him onside both times for the Swede's two goals. 4

Abou Diaby - Against sides like Barcelona, you can't carry dead wood. Unfortunately that was all that Diaby was at the Emirates. Has the talent for this level but has he the belief? Had a dreadful game. 3

Cesc Fabregas - Unfit and out of sorts. But there's a core of steel that runs through Fabregas. The courage shown to take, and score a penalty after possibly breaking his leg is a perfect riposte to anyone who thinks that bravery and guts are only the preserve of the British. 6

Denilson - Often regarded as a liability for Arsenal, particularly in the holding role. But the Brazilian acquitted himself competently on the night and didn't look out of place. 6

Andrey Arshavin - Another selection misstep from Wenger. The Russian was woeful in possession and came off early after picking up an injury. Arshavin can count himself lucky that he wasn't born a racehorse as his performance would have seen him taken behind the stables and swiftly shot. 2

Samir Nasri - Arsenal's best attacking player in the first half. Came close to opening the scoring with a wonderful effort from the left hand side of the box. So a mystery to me why he came in off the left flank to relative anonymity in the second half. Will be key to Arsenal's attacking ambitions next week. 6

Nicklas Bentder - The more he saw of the ball, the better he became. Played the role of target man admirably. Should have done better with a chance in the second half, but was responsible for laying on both Arsenal goals. 7

Theo Walcott - Possibly the most frustrating player in England but his arrival turned the game. With Fabio Capello in the crowd, Walcott played as if his World Cup place depended on it. Took his goal well and was a constant threat down the right hand side. May have an important part to play next week, and later this summer. 7


Victor Valdes - I've never been a fan of his but he made a good save to deny Bentder and commanded his area well. Unfair to blame him for Walcott's goal. 7

Dani Alves - He's come a long way since I saw him stink up the place when Sevilla visited the Emirates two seasons ago. Never the best defensively but attacked with constant menace down Barca's right. 7

Gerard Pique - Has had a storming season in Spain but was not as his best here. Was consistently dominated by Bentder and will miss the 2nd leg after picking up a booking for a cynical foul on Fabregas. 6

Carles Puyol - Regarded as the weak link in the Barcelona defence but he was their best defender. Marshaled the back four well, covering Pique at every turn. However, he failed to cut out Walcott's cross that led to Arsenal's penalty and his subsequent red card. Can be considered a victim of FIFA's dogmatic 'last man' rule. 7

Maxwell - Looked a threat when getting forward, so it was a pity that at times he seemed reluctant to do so. Was given something of a roasting by Walcott in the final half hour. Eric Abidal's potential return has taken on increasing importance as Maxwell looks the weakest memeber of the Barcelona defence. 6

Sergio Busquets - Would have been man of the match but for a careless concession of possession that led to Arsenal's first goal, and their route back into the game. Otherwise he was immaculate, controlling the midfield, and nullifying the threat of Fabregas and Diaby. 8

Xavi - Had just returned from injury and it showed. Was not as accurate with his passing as I had expected him to be and missed a sitter in the second half. However, a below par Xavi is still preferable to 95% of the world's midfield players and he will still be the man Arsenal need to stop on Tuesday. 6

Seydou Keita - One of the artisans among Barcelona's collection of artists. Even Harrods needs a shop floor man. Was neat, tidy and solid on the left hand side. 6

Pedro Rodriguez - The latest to come off the Barca production line. Looked a threat early on before fading slightly. One gets the impression that he will be experiencing plenty more nights like this in the future. 6

Lionel Messi - Buzzed around like a toddler who's been at the E numbers. Was always a threat with his movement and dribbling, but his finishing was not as ruthless as we've come to expect this season. Will be disappointed not to have scored. 7

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Has been repeatedly criticised by the British press for being a petulant, overrated, show-pony. Well Zlatan served them all two slices of pie. Pie of the humble variety, that is. How's that taste British media? Man of the match. 8

Don't forget to download 'The Greatest Events in Sporting History' Available at

No comments:

Post a Comment