I actually enjoyed watching most of the game against Man Utd last weekend. We bullied them for most of the first half and Jack Wilshere gave both Evra and Fletcher the sort of treatment dished out on RVN by Martin Keown in 2003 (yes that really was seven years ago!) We had more fight than we have had in recent seasons. It wasn’t a lack of effort or talent in our squad that cost us the game, it was the tactics employed by Utd and the lack of tactics employed by Wenger. As in all of the games where we have dropped points this season the opposition set up to allow us possession in the middle of the pitch but had plenty of men behind the ball so that we never managed to penetrate and create clear cut chances.
One thing Barca won’t do is defend in numbers. They will not see us as a threat, they will do what we do and ‘play their own game’. They will look to attack us and it will be an open game. By the time of the first leg in February Van Persie (if he stays fit) should be peaking, Vermaelen might be fit again and there is every chance that we will be firing on all cylinders. We play best on the counter attack and if Barca do go all out attack then there is every chance that we could get a result. This tie will be completely different to the Man Utd game.
When teams attack us and give us space we do well, when teams set out to deny us space and get men behind the ball we struggle. I’m more worried about Stoke this weekend than Barcelona, they will use the type of tactics we hate playing against!!!