If Arsenal are to beat Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening they must call upon the spirit of 2011, when they welcomed Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona to London.
At the time, Barcelona were at the peak of their powers. Xavi and Andres Iniesta turned the screws, dictating games for fun. David Villa, Lionel Messi and Pedro formed a fearful attacking spearhead. Carles Puyol, the gladiatorial figure as club captain, was not then blighted by injuries.
Contrastingly, Arsenal did not sparkle and enthrall like their current crop of players. Their football remained stunningly artistic, but nobody gave them hope against what many regard to be the greatest football team of all time.
For the most part of that night in London, like Manchester City yesterday evening, they had to try and beat a superior side with only occasional touches of the ball and infrequent spells of possession.
When Villa opened the scoring during the early embers of the tie it appeared as though Arsenal would have to settle for damage limitation rather than attempting to claw their way back into the contest.
But, despite having their backs against the wall, the Gunners produced a performance of spirit and guile to turn the match around.
Theo Walcott, as he had been in a 2-2 draw between the sides the season before, was the tipping point.
The Englishman will miss tonight’s game against Bayern, but his terrifying pace and directness made him uncontainable that night.
Robin Van Persie equalised with twelve minutes remaining, before Walcott cut the ball back for Andrey Arshavin to score the winner five minutes later and send the home fans into a state of ecstasy.
It was proof that, despite possession being important, it is not necessarily a guarantee of victory.
Arsenal may possess some technically gifted footballers but tonight, like the night in 2011, they will not be the more dominant side.
It is a common fact of the game that any side managed by Pep Guardiola will have more of the ball and, for the most part, more of the chances.
But Arsenal have beaten the best side in the world before and, come tonight, they will hope to do it again.
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