Barcelona will be travelling to Emirates Stadium to go head to head against Arsenal in the last 16 of UEFA Champions League.
Before passing on any suggestions for Arsene Wenger, it is worth mentioning that Barcelona is in such a relentless form that no one at the moment seems to have an answer to their resilience. The Catalan giants are unbeaten in last 32 games, and there is no reason to suggest that they would be thinking of dropping points just because it is an away fixture.
The front three, Messi, Neymar, and Suarez, have demolished almost every opposition this season. Suarez, in particularly, has been on a different level altogether. The 37 matches he has played this season, 41 goals have come off his shoe while bagging another 19 assists.
Together, the trio has made sure Barcelona stay atop on La Liga table with 8 points clear. Camp Nou side is already in the final of Copa Del Rey while progression to the quarterfinals of UCL is going to be a walk in the park unless Arsenal pulls off some magic.
The Gunners are in a good form this season. They bagged a grand winner against Leicester City in Premier League after making their way back to a 2-1 victory from a goal down. Yes – it was a good win, but not enough to trouble a giant like Barcelona.
Let’s take a look at where Arsenal stands regarding chances and what they can do to get something out of this fixture:
Barcelona’s pressure building tactics are not a surprise for Wenger. Luis Enrique’s side will be looking to dominate possession at the Emirates no matter what. With the kind of quality and depth in Barca’s squad, it is a mission impossible for Arsene Wenger to think Arsenal can dominate plays.
However, set pieces can come in handy for Arsenal, and it won’t be as difficult for them to score through corners or free kicks. The Gunners must utilise set plays if they want to have a go at preventing Barcelona from grabbing three points. They have scored ten goals from set pieces in the Premier League this season, most of them coming from Giroud’s power headers. Giroud will have to be sharp and witty to sneak past Barca defence which is not the best in the world.
THE GERMAN WHO HAS DONE IT BEFORE:
Arsenal may not have any realistic chances of winning this game, but Mesut Ozil is the man who needs to click to keep Arsenal alive. The German midfielder may not be the quickest of players, but his quality on and off the ball to create plays and chances just outside the penalty area is unmatchable.
Ozil has 17 assists this season in all competition in as many as 31 games so far. His touch on the ball and vision of the game can come in handy for Arsenal. Barcelona, on the other hand, will be looking forward to closing down space on Ozil to marginalise his productivity. One way or the other, the Gunners will have to prevent any such tactics.
HOW TO NEUTRALIZE THE MSN EFFECT:
Simply put, it is impossible to stop Messi, Suarez, and Neymar from scoring goals and playing ‘through balls’ inside the penalty area. They have been in prime form this season and have torn down every defence that came in their way.
So what can Arsenal do besides standing helpless? They just stand their ground and be vigilant. They need to defend as a unit and let Barca come at them. If they can irritate MSN and draw fouls from the referee, given their quality, it won’t be too hard for Arsenal to break plays and counter attack.