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  • Head to head rivalries Arsenal vs Barcelona

    Augustine Worth


    We didn't want to see this


    Barca Batterers and a tale of 2 red cards

    Sometimes in life you don’t want to write a column. This is one such. I have kept on avoiding this one as I have little good to say. The team from the Nou Camp destroyed us like we destroyed Tottenham. I know in advance that I will be lucky to find any metrics that will favour Arsenal. The good thing about this is that most of you reading will be familiar with these clashes. Our first game was in 1999 in the Champions league group stage. We had a great team, the famous back five was still strong, Overmars, Llungberg, Henry, Kanu, Bergkamp, Vieira and others graced our team. We were bloody good, in theory a match for anyone but at that point Europe was hard for us. They were good, Enrique, Figo, De Boer, Rivaldo, Kluivert and a guy called Guardiola who got clattered by Gilles Grimandi fairly late on to leave us down to 10 men.


    The first red card

    Enrique scored a scrappy one early on but they couldn’t score another. We were picking up yellow cards at an unbelievable rate, it was easier to say who didn’t get a card. They only got 2. But the red card seemed to wake us up, the ball was in their box immediately afterwards pinging around until Kanu got an awkward toe to it and it went in. 1-1 at the Nou Camp in our first match! Barcelona, we will send you home crying in London.

    A Wembley Hammering

    But no, we were the ones crying, 4-2 to Barca. It was an incredibly exciting match if you were not a Gooner. They were one nil up from a penalty when Tony Adams was clearly outside the box. Rivaldo slotted home and then Enrique scored straightaway to make it 2-0 after 15 minutes. There were lots of chances and a cert penalty not given to us. Towards the second half, Bergkamp scored to make it 2-1. We still had an opportunity. Wenger need to get them going for the second half. But they scored on 56 – 3-1. Then Cocu on 69 and we were beaten. A late goal from Overmars didn’t make a difference. They had shown us who the bosses were.

    And of course the next match was the most famous Arsenal one for most of you out there reading. The Champions League final 2006. The time I was most disappointed. Of course for me our greatest match was Liverpool 1989, and we won that and it was magic, incredible.

    Why Lehmann, why?

    But here was regret and frustration. I watched it in Murphys in Sofia and when Lehmann was sent off on 18 minutes I feared the worst. I have still not truly forgiven Lehmann for that. Sol Campbell scored on 37 and somehow we had a chance. We were playing like demons and even creating some chances. Barcelona didn’t really sparkle but on 76 Samuel Eto’o scored a well worked goal and truly I was worried. Then Belloti scored a bit of a scrappy one and I was sick. It is so hard being an Arsenal fan. We deserved to win, in my opinion, and would have if Lehmann had chosen not to foul. Barca deprived me of my greatest dream, the big cup, the biggest cup, the one I wanted.


    The second red card

    We got a chance of revenge in 2010 in the quarterfinals but they were ruthless 6-3 over 2 matches. The mighty Zlatan scoring 2 in the first at the Emirates for 2-2 and then some player called Lionel Messi scored 4 for 4-1 at the Nou Camp. Has anyone heard of him? Thierry Henry hid on the bench for them in the 2 matches.

    We win, or do we?

    We had them the next year in the round of 16. And we won the first match. We sent them home crying. David Villa scored early but 2 goals in the second half By Van Persie and Arshavin finished them off. Until the next match when Messi scored 2 and Xavi 1 to make it 3-1 after Busquets scored for us with an own goal. We couldn’t even have a real win against them.


    I don't know this guy

    Our last chance was in 2016. But Messi was on hand to annihilate everything for us again. Who is this guy? 2 goals and 2-0 at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger was starting to struggle by this stage and his time was nearly up. At the Nou Camp we scored through El Neny but Neymar, Suarez and, you guessed it, Messi demolished any dreams we may have had. Why oh why did I write about this team? Rivals? They are laughing at us. I am sure they call us Arsenal 3 free points.

    Trophies, you must be joking.

    I know what you are saying now, Gus, what about trophies? Surely we can match them for that? Readers, what can I say? They have so many more trophies than we have that I have got dizzy trying to count them. The FA Cup – our trophy? They have 31 Copa Del Reys! 5 Champions League! 26 La Liga! Forget about it, every trophy I try they obliterate us. Don’t look, you will get depressed.


    This boy was a bit useful

    Star players? They had Maradona, for Christ’s sake. Cruyff, Stoichkov, Neymar, Xavi, Iniesta, Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Ibrahimovic, Lineker, they even had Thierry Henry, Overmars, Petitt and now even Aubameyang. I have missed out so many I could stay here all day. I am writing this part without consulting any sources and I can think of so many players it is unbelievable. And that is without mentioning that guy who scored all the goals against us. They have at least 3 players in that list who are contenders for greatest player of all time. I truly don’t think we have one.


    Yes, hide your face, Thierry

    There’s always next year

    So, all I can do is apologise, dear readers. I know you don’t want to read about Arsenal the losers. Barcelona the big bullies who send us home crying to our mammies saying the big boys hurt us. I just have to dream that Arteta can do it. Next year we take on Barca and Bayern and we dump the 2 of them in the bin. Please, Mikel, is that too much to ask?


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