Thursday, April 30, 2009

UCL semis first leg wrap

The yellow brick wall; Chelsea came to the Nou Camp, set the stall out in a very defensive 4-5-1, with twin screeners in Obi Mikel and Essien, and five out and out midfielders. The idea was undoubtedly to stifle all the space across Barcelona's attacking third and get in the face of both Henry and Messi, and it worked an absolute treat, with Ivanovic and Bosingwa excellent in the main. Only Iniesta was able to find any regular space, and while Guardiola tried to flick the blanket by over-loading the left and right with Abidal and Alves, Chelsea stayed compact and scrabbled superbly. The good thing for Barca is that it finished 0-0, and with Chelsea likely to come out at home, that might just give Barca the space and goals they were denied at home. The problem is the decimation of their central defence.

Men against boys; Man Utd applied the physical press, pressuring Arsenal both with and without the ball, and Wenger's boys couldn't cope. More than ever Arsenal needed Fabregas, Adebayor and Nasri to step up, but all were blanketed by United's excellent organisation. Carrick was exemplary in the holding role, with Anderson and Fletcher helping out-muscle the likes of Song, Nasri, Diaby, Walcott and Fabregas, and push forward in support of Tevez and Rooney, who pulled Arsenal all over the place and opened up space for those joining from deeper. Despite only being a goal down, it's hard to see the Gunners getting out of this one. Where are they going to find the belief that was so clearly lacking here? It's one thing to be beaten physically, but mentally, one sensed, Arsenal never looked like they believed they could get anything at Old Trafford. Almunia keeps them in it, and they're back at the Emirates, but they'll need to find much more belief.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting point about Chelsea having to open up. Many are giving Chelsea the advantage but your right in that there'll be space for Messi, Eto'o and Henry.

Thanks for the top analysis again Tony

James

Thu Apr 30, 05:57:00 pm AEST  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

Ya know, I have a feeling Arsenal are very much still in it. United will feel a little uneasy that all their pressure in the second half didn't result in a goal, and with van Persie back at the Emirates, you never know.

Very tight performance by Chelsea against Barca...to my mind you knew it wasn't going to be Barca's night when Messi started moving over to the left. That was a form of capitulation.

Fri May 01, 10:10:00 pm AEST  
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