Monday, April 23, 2018

Do you fancy Per Mertesacker against the MSN? No me neither

David Nugent in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 22 Feb 2016

Arsenal will have to stop Barcelona's deadly trio of LIonel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar to make the last eight of the Champions League

Arsenal will have to stop Barcelona’s deadly trio of LIonel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar to make the last eight of the Champions League

I have to say Arsenal got the worse possible draw in the last-16 of the Champions League.

When the Gunners finished second in their group it was always going to be an uphill battle for the men from north London to make it to the quarter-finals.

However, when Arsene Wenger found out the side from north London had been drawn against European champions Barcelona I bet the Frenchman needed a lie down.

Ridiculous amount of talent

Barcelona have a cheek. They already had the majestic Lionel Messi then decided the Argentine was not enough, so brought in two more world-class South American strikers in Brazilian star Neymar and Uruguayan pest Luis Suarez.

The front three are the best trio of attacking players I have seen and it would be difficult to better Barcelona’s current front three. I have run out of superlatives and was simply going to title this article Messi, Neymar and Suarez are on a different planet and leave the rest of the article empty.

However, I have a remit of writing slightly more, so just indulge me in my loving of the Barcelona front three for a few minutes of your time. The Barcelona trio have scored an incredible 91 goals between them in all competitions this season.

Arguably the least lauded of the front three Luis Suarez has scored 41 goals this season, which is more goals than the whole of the Arsenal team in their Premier League campaign. The Uruguayan is reaching new heights as he continues to prove his quality on the big stage.

An almost telepathic understanding with Neymar and Messi and their good relationship has no doubt helped their team score the amount of goals they have this season, just as my colleague Milos so perfectly wrote a few days ago.

No offence to Per Mertesacker

The title is not meant as a slight on the German centre-back Mertesacker, as I have actually defended the former-Germany international star in the past. The former Werder Bremen defender is a World Cup winner after all.

He does have his critics in north London, but I have defended his performances on a number of occasions. His positional play often makes up for his lack of pace and he has been a decent servant to Arsenal over the past couple of seasons.

Mertesacker’s position in the Arsenal defence alongside Laurent Koscielny is now under threat from Brazilian centre-back Gabriel Paulista, who looks set to miss out on the game against Barcelona with a hamstring problem.

In truth Barcelona most defences would struggle to contain the current Barcelona team. Few have and few will, so Mertesacker and Koscielny will not be the first to have nightmares about Barcelona’s South American trio.

The thing about Barcelona is that there is not simply one player to stop. If you stop Messi then Neymar will get you and if you stop the Brazilian then there is Suarez.

That’s not even talking about the midfield players like Andres Iniesta, Arda Turan or Ivan Rakitic, who are all very useful players going forward. The Catalan giants are near impossible to stop.

Arsenal need to stay in the tie

Even the most ardent Arsenal fan would have problems trying to make a case for the Gunners going through over the two legs against Barcelona, with the side from north London currently odds of 9/1 to make the last eight of the competition.

The Gunners will have to be perfect in defence and hope that the Catalan giants have two bad nights, which they have hardly endured during the last few seasons. One thing is for sure, Arsenal have to achieve a positive result in the first leg at home to have any chance of making the last eight of the competition.

It seems unlikely that Arsenal will progress to the quarter-finals, but this is football and anything can happen. Unfortunately I think Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar having two off nights is very unlikely and the Gunners could be set for a last-16 Champions League exit once again.

Can Arsenal stop Barcelona’s fantastic front three?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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