Arsene Wenger’s men lost 2-0 to Barcelona in the Champions League last-16 first leg on Tuesday, but while their European hopes are on the brink, Arsenal are involved in a thrilling race to be crowned league champions.
In less than a minute, reigning champions Barca were a goal to the good after a ruthlessly efficient counter-attack involving Andres Iniesta, Luis Suarez and Neymar was finished expertly by Messi. Arsenal marked very hard because they are very strong players.
But Merson thinks that Arsenal’s disappointment won’t affect the Premier League tie, even backing France striker Olivier Giroud to get the first goal of the game this weekend.
“Once again, like against Monaco last season, we lost the game in exactly the same way”. Naive. And that’s what’s frustrating.
“If Arsenal are going to reach Barcelona’s level, they must look to sign better players”.
Per Mertesacker says Sunday’s game against Manchester United is a ideal chance for Arsenal to put the loss to Barcelona behind them and show they can still compete for the Premier League title.
Wenger was infuriated his players failed to heed his warning to keep it tight at all costs in the last 16, first leg on Tuesday as Messi punished the hosts’ careless defending with a clinical 71st-minute opener.
Barcelona cannot afford to be complacent in the return leg as Arsenal have plenty of quality in their squad and could cause nerves to jangle if they score early at the Camp Nou.
However, things fell apart for the London heavyweights inside the final 20 minutes, when Messi first opened the scoring following a lightning counter attack, before adding a second from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Mathieu Flamini. We are Arsenal and we will not go there and just have absolutely no chance but what we want is to focus now on our next game. With two away goals, BarÃ§a look home and hosed, their place in the quarter-finals all but assured. “We have to have a go”.