6 Talking points from Arsenal vs. Barcelona – Mertesacker Cost Us The Match and More

Arsenal lost 0-2 to Barcelona in a heart-breaking manner in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie last night. The Gunners kept toe-to-toe with the Catalan giants for the majority of the game, but got undone by two late strikes from Lionel Messi.

The tie is almost over for the Gunners now, and it feels like it will be same old story for the North London club in this year’s edition of Champions League.

Here we take a look at the main talking points from the game:

Arsene Wenger almost got his tactics spot on
Arsenal were able to thwart Barcelona’s attacking impetus for the majority of the game. They worked tirelessly and stopped the supply to the Barcelona attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez. The Catalans failed to register a shot in the first half of Champions League for the first time since November 2013.

However, they failed to stop a swift counter attack from the Catalan side and conceded a goal in the 71st minute of the game.

Gunners were once again wasteful in front of the goal
Arsenal continued to misfire in front of the goal. They were presented with decent goalscoring opportunities on a number of occasions, but failed to utilize the opportunities handed to them. The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey were guilty of squandering reasonable chances in front of the goal.

Their wastefulness came back to haunt them ultimately in the game.

MSN once again proved their mettle
The trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar once again proved their mettle in the world of football. For some time, it looked like the North London club would be able to shut down the famous three, but their resilience was finally broken down, and it was MSN, who had the last word once again.

Welbeck looked lively
For a short time, he was on the pitch, Danny Welbeck looked lively. This would provide a huge encouragement to the Gunners in their run for the league title.

The Gunners will be looking forward to shifting their focus immediately on the league run as they will travel to Man Utd for a crucial league encounter on Sunday.

Flamini had a night to forget
Everyone was left scratching their head, when Wenger decided to replace Francis Coquelin with Mathieu Flamini during the closing stages of the game. His move proved costly as the Frenchman conceded a penalty just 47 seconds after coming onto the pitch.

Mertesacker needs to be sold after the season
Per Mertesacker is not a feared defender like he was years ago. His lack of speed cost Arsenal at least the penalty. He was also late to catch with Messi-Neymar-Suarez during the first goal.