The Barca dust has settled and frankly I haven't changed my mind that much about the mechanism of our defeat. Goodplaya summed things up nicely with an article titled 'Neither humiliated or heroic', also the majority of Gooner comments here were pretty sensible and balanced, most people seemed to be fairly pragmatic in defeat. Barca played well, Messi was outstanding, our injuries played a part, the lads who came in did pretty well, it was a pretty tight contest despite the 4-1 scoreline, undoubtedly the Barca theatrics and systematic fouling also played a big part. Having said that we took the lead, surrendered it with some poor defending, and then had some excellent chances to get back in the game at 3-1, if one of these had been taken then Barca would have been made to sweat.
In truth the absence of Gallas and Song was probably key, Silvestre is past it and struggled throughout, it also meant that Vermaelen had to play out of position on the right of the centre backs which didn't play to his strengths. The lack of defensive cover in the midfield meant Song was badly missed, Diaby played well, as did Denilson, but neither are defensive midfielders and never will be. Even with a full strength defensive line up, it would have been tough, Messi appears unplayable at times, his pace and close control are something to admire. Overall it was perverse that we lost this game 4-1, the team performance was far better than in the first leg. We should learn from our defensive failings in this game, if we can then with a stronger side I could see us beating Barca next year, we really weren't that far off.
Alex Ferguson's recent comments in defeat have been truly pathetic and demonstrative of what an unpleasant bully this man is. Firstly he chose to blame the Chelsea defeat on the referee when in truth the big decisions went both ways and the offside goal was balanced out by Manu's clear hand ball goal. Then after losing to a very average Bayern side he chose to blame this on the 'Germans' in a unacceptably xenophobic manner which was very close to being overtly racist. The reason Manu lost was because Rafael is a stupid temperamental fool, his second booking had to be given, it was a cynical shirt tug when Ribery was breaking in a dangerous area of the pitch. The silence from the mainstream media has been deafening, Ferguson has sunk to new depths with his inability to take defeat, while his comments about Germans are beneath contempt. Has Sir Alex ever seen Manu players surround the referee or dive on the football field? Strange how he seems to encourage some things from his team but criticise it when it happens against his side.
Finally it seems that a few long term absentees are close to returns, Gibbs, Djourou and RVP may have vital roles to play in the final weeks of the season. This clip highlighted to me by a reader shows that the scum who goes by the name of Karl Henry was lucky not be sent off much earlier in last week's game against Wolves. Interestingly it's funny how some people seem so incensed by Arsenal's reaction to Karl 'clogger' Henry's appalling tackle on Tomas Rosicky, certain teams such as Manu and Chelsea have made a habit of intimidating and surrounding referees. It's fine to call for some consistency but Tony Pulis' words are nothing but stupid, there's a big difference between intimidating referees and complaining to the ref that yet another of your players has almost had his leg broken.