Paul: Did Wenger pick the wrong team? (And Jack was brilliant)

Here we have another Guest Post about the Barcelona game, and Paul is not sure that Arsene Wenger put the right XI on the pitch at the start……

A wrong selection, A Star and An Awful Touch by Paul

Arsenal immortality beckoned for the self-proclaimed greatest striker in the world. Through on goal with the just the keeper to beat, Nicklas Bendtner showed what is becoming an all to regular occurence. With a shocking first touch he ensured that, one again, Arsenal failed on what is now becoming a traditional hurdle.

Truthfully, any result other than a Barca victory would have been a shock. We managed no attempts in the game, either on or off target and spent most of the match chasing the shadow of the ball.

Of all the Arsenal players on the pitch only Jack Wilshere could walk away with his head held high. He never gave up, even to the last few minutes where he played an inch-perfect pass to Bendtner, he was alert when his team-mates were not and was looking to get on the ball whenever he could. He stood toe-to-toe with two World cup winners, two of the greatest midfielders in the world and never backed down, unbelievable for a player his age.

While Almunia had a very good game, I think we all agree that his time is up. He probably knows it himself and that performance will do him no harm in finding a new club. The only player worth mentioning is Koscielny. He had a good game although he did give away a penalty but him and Djourou were far too busy on the night, we missed the protection of Alex Song dearly. When I saw the line-up I my jaw dropped.

RVP and Fabregas both starting? My first thought was that Fab must have gotten over his injury but I felt RVP’s inclusion was more for morale than anything else. He was not fit enough to start and it would have better to lead with Chamak and bring RVP on in the second half. Seeing Rosicky’s name on the team sheet left me bewildered, why oh why did he start? I can’t remember him doing anything of note throughout the match. Eboue would have been better, which is saying something, at least he has some pace and that side of the pitch was practically completely unguarded as Adriano was constantly bombarding up the touch line.

It must be said though that Barca were superior on the night, defeat to them is no disgrace, especially given how close we ran them.

We could have gotten lucky in Barcelona, it happens all the time in cup games, we could have stolen it at the end. The margin between success and failure is so slim, in this case about as slim as Bendtner’s bad touch. All in all I think we outplayed, not necessarily by a better team, but by a team who knew what they had to do and had the drive and hunger to do it.

I think Wenger got his team selection all wrong – but then again gambles are needed in big games. Investment is needed in the summer that much is clear, but at least there is one position I am not worried about and that is centre mid. Over the two ties I saw a star born, he was the best Arsenal player on the filed in both games and played better than many of the Barca players too, our future is safe with him and he is bound to become an Arsenal Captain in the future. Say one thing for Jack Wilshere, say he is a class act.

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18 thoughts on “Paul: Did Wenger pick the wrong team? (And Jack was brilliant)

  1. Gaz

    Please don’t take offence. But haven’t we said all that needs to be said about the Barcelona game?
    This article seems to be just more of what has already been discussed since tuesday nights game.

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  2. gunner4lyf

    Pls just stop these articles..No point in poking the wounds further.
    A better team on the day won..And thats it…lets move on..

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  3. paul sheehan

    I had this written an hour after the game but am having problems with my email, thats why its late, sorry about that

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  4. Daniel

    No he’d only have been suspended for one game (2 yellows, not a straight red).

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  5. Srbistuta

    I’ve was surprised to see both Fabregas and RVP on the field right form the start as well.

    Also, I agree that Rosicky was lost from the start.

    I question the squad, because Barcelona was really weak at the Back.
    They played Abidal(left beck), Busquets(defensive middfielder), Alves and Adriano as right and left backs (they are both backs as Lennon or Shaun Right-Philips).Nasri and Arshavin would’ve killed them on the breaks and I believe that Bendtner and Chamack would win almost every air duel VS all of the listed above. Also, they (Bend and Chamack) are warriors, will run for the ball, use their big bodies to their advantage, unlike RVP, who plays the game with a classy touch and flare.

    Wenger opted not to attack at all and he failed, epically.

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  6. Irish gunner

    Thought that alright. it would be too good to be true anyway!cheers daniel. I want to see ramsey start on sat whats the point sending him on loan to get match fit an then leave him on the bench against sunderland.maybe play arshavin behind striker its his best position anyway,nasri wil do fine on the wing

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  7. Noav

    “All in all I think we outplayed, not necessarily by a better team”

    what???? Barca are a better team to Arsenal – they drew with orient and lost to ipswich for goodness sake Barca are better.

    I feared for arsenal when this fixture was announced and at least Barca finishing ineffectiveness stopped this from being a cricket score line.. awful awful Arsenal
    Maybe the EPL is not as good as it’s being made out … how can teams on half the budget of Arsenal compete with Barca when Arsenal can’t manage a goal attempt?????

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  8. Gigi

    Yeah, it could have maybe been a better selection, I agree on Chamakh but I would have used as a sub, why not when RvP was red carded? after all, having strikers all around would have been a better defence imo, prove is that we kept the defence and nonetheless we received two more.
    As the sent off was a turning point, we should have, at that point , gone looking to score, simply.
    But we were so close that its impossible to think that with 11 men we couldnt have done it, so kudos to the ref.
    But again, this isnt the first time we play vs a ref, so Wenger imo should have put all the meat in the BBQ and fire at will…

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  9. richie

    Eboue was suspended, the problem was rosicky he should have play ramsey.

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  10. Stoker16

    Diaby and bedtner wide. Robin up top. Jack in holding, nas keeps it flowing in jacks position and cesc would have played well with that team.

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  11. Charlie

    Man U will be missing their only creative player below the age of 35 so that has to be a bonus. Just need to wait til the two old timers go off to have a nap and we’ll hang em out to dry.

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  12. NickW

    I think Wenger got his tactics wrong. Having said that he only has one tactic and as everyone has figured that out by now most games are now an uphill struggle. Against a team that presses the ball so effectively trying to play out of defense through the midfield is just daft. We kept giving the ball straight back in dangerous positions. Against 2 novice centre backs we should have been trying to exploit their aerial deficiencies and not try to beat them at their own game. However AW is too stubborn and too arrogant to adapt his tactics and showed that he had in fact learned nothing from last years game. I’m sure if we played them next week he would do the same thing again with the same result. I also predict we will get beaten home and away by Man U again this season as Ferguson has also got his number and we know that AW will not change a damn thing, so why should we expect a different result.

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  13. Neil

    Wenger absolutely changed his tactics by playing defensively for the first half. Apart from the ridiculous contribution from Fabregas it pretty much worked until the sending off. If RVP had not been sent off (how much was the ref paid for that decision?) you would have seen a similar last 20 minutes to the one at the Emirates.

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  14. richie

    tactics are okay, players are not.

    Rocicky, squillaci and denilson simply don’t work well and that is why we look so predictable, they never perform. When arshavin replaced rosicky the game was a whole different eventhough we were 10 vs 12. When squillaci is around, the defense is completely fragile; he is never in line, never in position, slow, very bad with his vision…
    Denilson kills every counter and every creative play, all he can do is pass the ball back, no matter where he is in the pitch it always goes back.

    the reason why united beat us 1-0 is because of Squillaci and rosicky. Many matches we have draw or lost it is because of the same reason, any combination of these 3 means a draw or a loss.

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  15. josh

    To some extent, wenger had a wrong team selection, fabregas as well shouldn’t have started(basing on the fact that he raelly did nothing except to gift his “beloved” barca a first half goal) there’s something about him that am starting not like(plus his silly comments on why we lost) and i guess it’s time we say bye to him, how long are we going to hold onto him anyway, when his heart isn’t with us, one more thing that i can say is that, wenger should wake up and make some grown up buys come the window period.

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  16. charlise

    The fact that we as fans most times have a preset opinion of a player, please look at the 1st leg match closely apart from the pass cesc made to nasri for the 2nd goal, what did he add to that game. His body language shows he didn’t want to be in the game. It was jack that kept teh game going then and he was the only one in the nou camp too. Wenger got the players wrong again, he show have started cham, bendtner that will limit their defence pushing forward too much..in middle cesc and diaby had no place there.

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