UEFA Champions League

February 16, 2011



2 - 1


UEFA Champions League

19:45 +00:00, February 16, 2011

Emirates Stadium, England

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli


    Nicklas Bendtner celebrates with matchwinner Andrei Arshavin.


    FT Is it overstating the case to say that Wilshere came of age tonight? Probably, but he was the star man, along with Koscielny, who had the game of his life.


    FT Arsenal will have to play even better at the Camp Nou if they are to go through but what a huge confidence boost. They know they can beat Barca and Guardiola knows his side have been rocked.


    FT What a great comeback victory for Arsenal! One that will live long in the memory of the fans... but it is only the first leg.

  • 93'

    That's the final action of the game as the ref blows his whistle.

  • 92'

    Arshavin looks like he handled the ball in the box. Barca play on and it is a scramble as a series of shots are blocked by Gunners' defenders throwing themselves at the ball.

  • 91'

    We'll have two minutes of injury time. Barca have the ball but are going nowhere. They look happy to have the away goal.

  • 90'

    The Arsenal fans are chanting "we've got Cesc Fabregas", whom Barcelona covet.

  • 89'

    Iniesta goes off to be replaced by Adriano.

  • 88'

    Messi races at Djourou but his final pass is too wide for his partner. Messi gest another chance and shoots. He was offsdie, but Szczesny made the save anyway.

  • 87'

    Barcelona are holding on now...

  • 86'

    Bendtner drives into the box, he has Van Persie to cut it back to but the greedy striker decides to shoot from a tight angle... I suppose Van Persie scroed from there.

  • 85'

    Van Persie gest booked for a sloppy tackle.

  • 84'

    Barcelona appeared to take their foot off the gas after going 1-0 up and look like they may well pay the price as they struggle to get back to their best.

  • 83'

    A great break from Arsenal. Nasri took his time despite the crowd screaming at him and Arshavin curled in his finish from the cut-back from just inside the box.

  • 82'

    GOAL Nasri breaks. He looks like he has no idea what to do, but cuts it back to Arshavin who slots it home.

  • 80'

    Now it is Arsenal who are happy to keep possession.. and with renewed belief.

  • 79'

    Can Barca lift the tempo now and take control of this game? Arsenal are certainly up for it.

  • 78'

    Van Persie scores from an amazingly acute angle, he was almost on the byline. What a finish!

  • 77'

    GOAL Arshavin (yes he is still playing) chips the ball to Clichy, who sets up Van Persie in the box, who lashes into the back of the net

  • 76'

    Wilshere and Van Persie combine in the box but Abidal races across to block his shot. Wilshere has been very impressive for Arsenal.

  • 75'

    Walcott has run his race tonight. Bendtner, a better target man, is coming on.

  • 74'

    Arsenal try their best to crowd out Lionel Messi

  • 73'

    Barcelona are still enjoying more possession but they have done much less with it in the second half.

  • 72'

    Arsenal must be defending well. Alves has just resorted to pumping a hopeful ball into the box.

  • 71'

    Fabregas fires the ball upto Van Persie who tries to control the ball under pressure from Pique but can't hold off the defender.

  • 70'

    Walcott runs at Maxwell, this way and that. He thinks he has won a corner but a goalkick is given.

  • 69'

    Wilshere shows an assured calmness as he plays the ball out of defence surrounded by a sea of green shirts.

  • 68'

    Arsenal's change is more attacking. Off goes Song and on comes Arshavin.

  • 67'

    Barca take off Villa, the goalscorer, and on comes the more defensive minded Keita.

  • 66'

    Messi runs at Arsenal defence, who freeze for a moment but the little forward hits his shot into the side netting.

  • 65'

    Barca have been given a corner that should have been a goalkick, but Arsenal clear the danger anyway.

  • 64'

    Fabregas and Van Persie combine and the latter shoots from 20-yards out. Valdes saves. Van Persie looks a bit ponderous tonight.

  • 63'

    The freekick goes backwards and Barca build and attack.

  • 62'

    Abidal waltzes through midfield and is then taken down by Eboue. Barca freekick on the left of the box.

  • 61'

    It was about this point in the first-half that Barca took control...

  • 60'

    Fabregas sets up Nasri on the left of the box. Nasri scuffs his shot but wins a corner, which is wasted.

  • 59'

    ...It's absolute garbage. Straight into Valdes' hands.

  • 58'

    Fabregas will take the freekick...

  • 58'

    Pique takes out Fabregas off the ball and gets booked. He will miss the second leg.

  • 57'

    Arsenal have three or four chances to shoot from a corner but typically they over play it and the chance goes begging.

  • 56'

    Pedro takes a tumble in the box under a challenge from Koscielny. The ref waves play on but I've seen 'em given.

  • 55'

    Fabregas sticks to Busquets like glue and wins possession. Walcott breaks and finds Van Persie, who shoots high and wide from the edge of the box.

  • 54'

    Walcott and Fabregas have a misunderstanding and a promising move down the right flank breaks down.

  • 53'

    Alves wins a freekick by diving... shock horror.

  • 52'

    Maxwell crosses to the edge of the box for Xavi to volley a shot. The Barca midfielder does so, but slices his effort well wide.

  • 51'

    A flowing move from Arsenal, that started with Eboue and Walcott combining on the left, ends when Busquets tackles Song on the edge of the Barca box.

  • 50'

    Walcott drags the ball inside and Iniesta, off all people, is back to make a great tackle for Barca. Another good start from Arsenal here.

  • 49'

    Fabregas lofts the ball forward, Van Persie controls it in the air but Abidal makes a good tackle.

  • 48'

    Clichy takes down Iniesta but just a freekick will suffice.

  • 47'

    Wilshere plays a one-two with Fabregas, he stumbles onto the return pass but still manages a shot, which Valdes saves.

  • 46'

    Van Persie breaks quickly for Arsenal as he latches onto a Fabregas pass but the flag is up for offside.

  • 46'

    The Gunners get the second-half underway, kicking from left to right. No changes in personnel.


    Stat: Barcelona have completed 170 more passes (328) than Arsenal (158) in the first half.


    ESPNsoccernet's Tom Adams says: I'd be amazed if Denilson doesn't come on for Song. If Arsenal go down to ten men they are screwed.


    It's good to see that Wilshere is not overawed by the occassion and has played some great stuff.


    HT: Here's a crumb of comfort for Arsenal fans: The Gunners have been awarded a penalty in their last five Champions League matches at home.


    David Villa celebrates after breaking the deadlock.


    HT Well it was great start for Arsenal but they failed to take their chances and Barca took control of the game before Villa scored. It was even again for the final ten minutes.

  • 45'

    The ref blows for half-time and Arsenal have to plan a way back into this game during the break.

  • 45'

    Iniesta and Maxwell double up on Walcott and there is no way through for the winger.

  • 43'

    Barca keep possession.

  • 42'

    Nasri is getting a bit of joy down the left. He crosses for Van Peries, who flicks a header at goal but his effort goes over the crossbar.

  • 41'

    Arsenal are trying their best but the openings they found at the start of the game are no longer there.

  • 40'

    Nasri and Alves are having their own personal battle by the corner flag. Nasri wins.

  • 39'

    Nasri combines with Fabregas down the left flank. The latter launches a cross/shot inot the box that dips beyond the far post.

  • 38'

    Pedro has been flagged offside now. Arsenal are playing a risky game with this high line, when they get it wrong Barca are clean through.

  • 37'

    Djourou gives the ball away but Koscielny, who is having the game of his life, scampers across to tackle Xavi.

  • 36'

    Messi bundles the ball into back of the net following a scrappy passage of play but he is offside.

  • 35'

    Robin van Persie sees an early chance saved.

  • 34'

    Eboue breaks but instead of playing the ball out wide he cuts inside and runs into three Barca defenders. Rubbish!

  • 33'

    Koscielny keeps at Messi and eventually wins the ball back. Van Persie shoots from the edge of the box but Pique blocks his effort.

  • 32'

    Nasri wins a freekick as Arsenal regain some composure.

  • 31'

    Barca's passing is just pulling the Arsenal midfield from side to side. An offisde flag gives the Gunners some respite.

  • 30'

    Is anybody going to pick up Alves in this game? He is the out ball every time.

  • 29'

    It was a great chance that. Van Persie needed to do much better.

  • 28'

    Wilshere breaks and plays the ball out left to Van Persie, who rushes his shot and the back of the net fails to gape.

  • 27'

    Nasri gest booked following a physical tackle.

  • 26'

    Villa looked offside but Clichy was playing him on. Poor positioning by the Arsenal defender and Barca have made him pay.

  • 25'

    GOAL Messi slips the ball through to Villa, who breaks the offside trap and slots it home.

  • 24'

    Walcott breaks at pace and plays a great ball wide to Fabregas. The skipper chips the ball back across goal and Abidal nicks the ball of Van Persies' head to deny a certian goal.

  • 23'

    Walcott delivers a peach of a dipping cross but Van Persie just can't get his toe to the ball.

  • 22'

    Wilshere loses the ball. Messi tries chip from the edge of the box but Szczseny catches it with ease.

  • 21'

    Wilshere wins the ball with a tigerish tackle in midfield. Nasri then opts to play the ball back rather than cross. It was the wrong option.

  • 20'

    Pedro collects the ball and spins in the same move to evade a lunge. Well worthy of a mention.

  • 19'

    Alves is playing most of the game in Arsenal's half and Koscielny has to make a good tackle as another Barca attack builds.

  • 18'

    Iniesta plays in David Villa far too easily but Szczesny races off his line to snuff out the danger.

  • 17'

    Walcott is back in his own box defending.

  • 16'

    The great start by Arsenal was nearly undone by one move from Barca, who have now settled into the game.

  • 15'

    Messi races clear of the Arsenal defence, onto a pass by Villa. Szczesny stays big and Messi puts his shot wide. A let off for the Gunners.

  • 14'

    Nasri goes over a challenge by Alves but the ref waves play on. He should have given it just because it was against dive-supremo Alves.

  • 13'

    Koscielny steps out of defence to break up a Barca attack but then panics and gives the ball away.

  • 12'

    Abidal splits the Arsenal defence with a pass but Maxwell is offside. Arsenal held a high line.

  • 11'

    Pedro, who is supposed to be quick, has just been out-paced by Clichy. Another good sign for Arsenal.

  • 10'

    Iniesta links up with Messi but a swarm of red shirts converge on the forward and Song makes a good tackle.

  • 9'

    It's been a great start from Arsenal, who have already has two shots on target and are showing no fear.

  • 8'

    Walcott looks like he will be seeing a lot of the ball tonight... and he looks in dangerous mood.

  • 7'

    It's Barca's turn to break and Song has to scythe down Messi. He gets booked.

  • 6'

    Nice turn by Fabregas under pressure. Walcott returns the ball. Fabregas flicks the ball over the top and Van Persie's near-post effort is saved. Great move.

  • 5'

    Walcott races away on the break. He runs into the middle and flicks a pass out to Van Persie that is just over-hit.

  • 4'

    Nasri launches the freekick into the box, it goes through everybody and straight into the arms of Valdes.

  • 3'

    Van Persie is fouled but Fabregas plays on with the ball and breaks free, but he is offside so the ref pulls it back for a freekick to the Gunners.

  • 2'

    Arsenal try to play their way out of danger and clichy is lucky to get away with a goal kick.

  • 2'

    Busquets wins the ball high up the pitch in trademark fashion and Barca have the ball.

  • 1'

    Van Persie is penalised for a high foot against Xavi.

  • 1'

    "Arsenal FC" rings around the ground as Barca kick-off this tie, kicking from left to right, wearing surgical-gown green.


    Stat: Arsenal have averaged 617 passes per Champions League game this season while Barcelona have averaged 813.


    The Barca fans are feeling confident and have a big banner that reads: "Hi London. We'll be back on May 28" - for the final at Wembley.


    However, the little Argentine has scored 13 goals in his last 11 Champions League starts, including four in one game against Arsenal.


    TV replays show Messi taking a football to the nuts in the warm up. Maybe it will hamper his performance...


    Following Arsenal's schooling in this fixture last season, you have to think they are in a much better position to get a result this time.


    Stat: Barcelona are yet to win a Champions League away match in the knock-out stages under Guardiola. The 2008/09 final in Rome was at a neutral venue.


    The changes in the Barcelona side are not so marked but two of them have made the team stronger. Abidal replaces injured skipper Puyol, Iniesta is in for Keita and Villa is now Ibrahimovic.


    Interestingly, only three Arsenal players in the starting XI played in last year's drubbing at the Camp Nou.


    The good news for the Gunners is that Nasri has been passed fit. The full line-up looks like this: Szczesny; Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy; Song, Wilshere, Walcott, Fabregas, Nasri; Van Persie.


    Here is the Barcelona team that has most Arsenal fans quaking in their boots: Valdes; Daniel Alves, Pique, Abidal, Maxwell; Busquets; Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, Villa, Messi.


    Captain Fabregas has called on Arsenal fans "to be patient...there will be parts of the game tonight where we will not touch the ball".


    Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas were team-mates in the Barcelona youth side.


    Join us at 19.45 GMT for live commentary of Arsenal's eagerly anticipated clash with Barcelona. In the meantime, read our match preview.