Barcelona and Arsenal – Brothers in the Football World?

Or Mortal Enemies?

The matches have been played, the goals have been scored, the referee decisions have been made, and Barcelona has progressed to the next round. Now all we can do is toast to a victory and wait for the hydrogen bomb size fallout that will inevitably follow the match. In any match that is as closely contested as this one there will always be close scrutiny of every tackle, of every decision the referee makes, of every instant. Whether van Persie’s red card was deserved will be discussed ad nauseum in the coming weeks, so I’m going to spare you for a little bit longer

The relationship between the two clubs (especially the fans) has been rocky at best over the last couple of years. The movement of players between the two clubs is something that has left a sour taste in the mouths of both of the clubs’ fans. Gooners weren’t exactly thrilled when their hero Henry decided to move to Barcelona, and Cules have been likewise annoyed by Arsenals capture of cantera players like Cesc, Merida, and more recently, Jon Miquel Toral Harper, who joined just last month. The Fabregas saga alone has been the genesis for countless arguments between Gooners and Cules.

When you look at recent matches between the two sides, the heartbreak has been all Arsenal’s. Mix this in with the player issues and heat it all over the flames of a relentless media and it’s hard to be surprised when the fans of the clubs start to fight. In the end it is too bad, as the clubs have a lot in common and should be supportive of each other in the current football climate.

Both clubs have a philosophy of playing speculative, attacking, entertaining football. Their styles are naturally different as they play in different environments, but the philosophy is surprisingly similar. Both clubs also rely on their youth to form the core of their team. Arsenal hasn’t been committed to the concept for as long as Barcelona has, and has had less success as a result, but that doesn’t make their attempts any less commendable. This is especially true when you consider the “buy high, buy now” mentality a lot of other top clubs have.

As the clubs have a similar philosophy both on and off the pitch it would make sense for them to support each other – to be brothers in the football world. Look at the Cesc saga – it reminds me of a time when my younger brother stole one of my shirts and when I found out I demanded it back, even though it didn’t fit me anymore. Brothers will argue, and fight, and compete, and get pissed off at each other. However in the end it is necessary to put those things behind us and remember that when push comes to shove, brothers stick together.

Arsenal has won my respect over these two legs. They gave us two great games and the vast majority of their players were classy both on and off the pitch. Lately we’ve had some extremely classy Arsenal fans visit the site, and I hope that continues.


(This post is dedicated to my brother, an avid Gooner who I’m sure is grieving right now)



  1. First time here…long time ready.

    Sorry – I can see your points but have to disagree. I feel no affinity towards Arsenal and nor will I ever. The fact they attempt to play or happen to play in a similar style (Barca-Lite, as they often get called) gives me no reason what-so-ever to have any feelings towards them but just a neutral casual observer of their results (or when they play us, they happen to be on the same pitch as us).

    This would change more if they were of course part of La Liga.

    As far as the rivalry and the hatred (if there really is the hatred like Man Utd vs Liverpool etc is (btw I don’th think there is) – then I guess it’s the old adage “Haters gonna hate”. I’ve often found it comical how people get so distraught and passionate over a team vs another team that they are willing to (at the extreme point, kill) is so funny to me.

    And…I’m 29 and been a Barca fan since I was 7 so…you know *shrug*.

    WE WON! 😀 😀

  2. I also don’t have any more or less respect for the club. If anything, I guess maybe less since they attempted (and failed) to park the bus…something which they pride themselves of not doing as you stated “Both clubs have a philosophy of playing speculative, attacking, entertaining football”.

    Only saw one club doing that today…even if the other club didnt have to for 46minutes…

    1. Have to disagree with you there.

      I don’t think Arsenal intended to park the bus at all – they just weren’t good enough to put together more than three passes against our pressure defense, especially in the first half.

      That said, everyone has their own view on these things, this is just how I look at it.

    2. Agreed. Seriously, who could really stand up to the full-on Barca offensive onslaught that Arsenal experienced tonight? I don’t think they were trying to park the bus at all. They just couldn’t string the passes together. And that’s no insult to Arsenal in any respect, they came really close to winning notwhithstanding.

    3. Sorry, Vicsoc. When you play RVP up front on his own you’re not exactly looking to score a barrowload of goals.

  3. Goo posted this in the previous thread and it mustnt die!


    1. Dani is such a G. How about a BFB field trip to Barcelona? We can pose as Rosell, ZubiZa and co. and tell him to sign for the next 5 years. Give him a year supply of Red Bull (even though we should really be weeing him off that stuff)

  4. I think they intended and carried out exactly what they wanted to do in the first 45mins. Watch the reply..tell me how many men were behind the ball at any given time compared to other big domestic league games they have…they had every intention to stifle the game and try for that one counter goal that would’ve killed off the game (as I said..fair enough since it was 1-1 – but it goes against their philosophies that their Fans hold so high). Bus tactics with a long ball/counter attack effort…all had to be reveresed in the second half of course. The pressue was off Pep as soon as that Messi goal went in – he didnt have to change a thing in his instructions. Wenger would’ve been working overtime.

    1. I just don’t see it that way. When Arsenal got the ball they rarely resorted to a long ball right away. Often they would have to play a long ball after a pass or two because they had no other options – but they were looking for passes to feet first.

      It’s hard not to end up with that many players behind the ball when you are getting battered like that – but that doesn’t mean that they planned to play that way.

      Watch when they begin constructing attacks, it’s not route one kick and run, but they are trying to find space and link passes.

      I really think they just couldn’t escape Barca’s pressure and were effectively forced back into their own third for the majority of the game.

    2. woah didn’t read your comment before I posted mine… I don’t see what playing a long ball has to do with it…A team can play defensively and try to counter by playing passes over the ground.

    3. We are going to have to agree to disagree. I honestly don’t think Arsenal was intending to park the bus.

      I just saw it as Barcelona being so dominant that Arsenal really had no choice.

    4. we are not necessarily disagreeing as my comment above was not really meant for this game 🙂

  5. Sorry Vicsoc, can’t help you there.

    Although I love EPL football, I am very strongly against all big EPL teams youth policies and in regards to Arsenal in particular, and despite the respect I have for his dedication to attacking football, I can’t stand Arsène Wenger…

    That being said, most of the Gunners who have visited our site lately have been pure class.

    1. So the picture is obviously more complicated than I painted it here. You look at the EPL teams signing quality players from leagues where it is illegal for them to sign a professional contract, and that is disgusting.

      But you look at a player like Wilshere who has been at Arsenal since he was 9 and it is impossible to deny that the club is building a formidable youth program.

      Let’s hope as it grows we won’t see them come looking for our 16 year olds anymore.

    2. Takes a dedicated troll to sign up and all that.If this site was still open to easy commenting without members, no doubt we’d get the likes of “Harry_Barracuda” leaving their mark puppy style.Or was Harry a chelsea troll? Can never differentiate.Members = quality control.Best idea ever!

      As for Arsenal i dont like Arsene and the culture he’s bred at Arsenal of pointing fingers every which way but themselves.Henry’s post cl final “thoughts” are some of the most bitter Ive had the pleasure to view.I also think hes a big hypocrite with regards to tapping up and dirty tackles and all the other things he whines about.But apart from that Arsenal are alright :3

  6. I must say that I’ve always had a soft spot for Arsenal, yet for some reason that made losing to them so much worse. Today’s game was a typhoon of emotions, and I’m just glad our boys came through. I can’t wait for the next tie; even though our form has been kinda shaky (not to mention injuries making things complicated), we keep coming out with the results needed. Zaragoza was tedious as all hell, Valencia was hard-fought as all hell, and this game was, well, y’know…yet we still have yet to make any real slip-ups. I don’t to jinx it, but these may be signs of a legendary season.

  7. Arsenal Offside has a nice review of the match. I’d stick my head out and say it’s probably the best you’ll find on an Arsenal blog. There is disappointment, but no real denial.

    I said I wouldn’t comment on the Offside, but if you’re reading this you must be some kind of masochist it’s very nicely done, especially so soon after a defeat such as that.

    Also, before you start quoting some of their commenters, it should be noted that the commenters don’t represent the blog (per se). I think the two that run the Arsenal Offside are probably the most honest Gooner’s you’ll find on the blog-o-sphere.

    That being said, I want my some Kxevin review goodness.

    1. Seriously, I can’t imagine how disappointed people must be to see a new post and expect a Kxevin review… then get this 😛

    2. Well, I think they’ll be satisfied with the subtle jab at EE. But I guess if they missed it… 😀

      But I really think this post is a good idea. I’m admittedly still cheesed off at the whining about the red, as it implies they would have gone through had that decision not happened, and the ref. It’s denial at its worst IMO. This post says: hey, calm the hell down. They ain’t EE, remember?

    3. I’m honestly annoyed as hell at the ref. I think we would have won anyway, we were pretty dominant (to say the least), but now, with one questionable decision, the whole victory is going to be submerged in controversy for time immemorial. Was that really necessary?!

    4. Sairax and Martin are about the most fair Arsenal fans I’ve ever read from. You’re always gonna get idiots in a site as popular as the Offside, so some of the commenting is silly (to put it nicely), yet the bloggers should get a lot of credit for their sober analysis of their own team.

    5. I don’t even support Arsenal and I still enjoy going to that site, because the bloggers there are so thoughtful and considered in their responses/analysis. I’d like to go over and say so, except I’m pretty sure any cule responses over there will probably still feel like salt in the wound. (And I agree, I wouldn’t judge that blog by the commentators there.)

  8. I just finished actually watching the game. *sigh* I need a cigarette. And I don’t even smoke. 😛

    Beautiful team, beautiful football, beautiful game. Considering that Arsenal didn’t have a single shot on goal all game, it was still very close! Helped by Busi’s own goal, but I forgive him. He just wanted to keep things interesting.

    Can’t believe how invisible Fabregas was. Aside from his “assist” to Messi’s first goal, I hardly noticed him on the field. And he was taken off early. Injured again?

    I just remembered why I dislike RVP so much. He was one of the sulkiest sorriest losers at the WC, only grudgingly shaking hands with the winning team. While gentlemen like Robben, Sneijder, and especially Dirk Kuyt (although clearly devastated) managed to congratulate their opponents and sometime teammates.

    I don’t understand why a lot of you are being so harsh on David Villa. I just finished watching the game, and frankly he worked his sweet little butt off. No, he didn’t score a goal, but he was constantly available for passes, kept himself mostly onside, made great runs, and slotted that great Iniesta pass to Xavi for his goal. What more could he have done?

    Terrific object lesson in possession football. I will be watching this one again! And thanks again to Jnasty 😉 for alerting me to the fbtz forums in the first place.

    1. guess what, not only did they not have a shot on goal, they didnt take a single shot at all, period. they did not shoot the ball once in this entire game.

      RVP’s sending off is just a side note to this match. nothing else. if this didnt happen, the haters would just find some other reason that they got robbed.

      but, i like vicsoc’s post. i hope arsenal win the EPL

  9. “I don’t understand why a lot of you are being so harsh on David Villa. I just finished watching the game, and frankly he worked his sweet little butt off. No, he didn’t score a goal, but he was constantly available for passes, kept himself mostly onside, made great runs, and slotted that great Iniesta pass to Xavi for his goal. What more could he have done? ”

    Lots, I’d say. I wouldn’t say that he was really bad… but, being honest, he wasn’t good either. He was just… let’s say… MEH! Yep, that’s right… meh!

  10. Honestly, the wank between Arsenal and Barcelona fans kind of depresses me sometimes–when it’s not outright frustrating me. I’m a Liverpool fan, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Arsenal (mostly because they’re the only ones who have a real shot of challenging United for the title).

    I understand how the conflict happens, but at this point, I’m simply exhausted by it.

    Are there a lot of gooners that are annoying? Of course. There are also a lot of Barcelona fans that personally make me shake my head. (I don’t care what happens on the pitch, calling Szcecsny’s injury “karma” is just totally classless. Also, karma for WHAT, exactly? ) But honestly, all you have to do is look at blogs like Arsenal Offside to see that not every Arsenal fan conforms to the stereotype that so many cules like to put on them.

    Arsenal have a lot of young, talented players, they’re a very good team (this result notwithstanding) and I admire what they’re trying to do in the EPL by sticking to their brand of football. Also, if you don’t follow the EPL, you honestly wouldn’t believe some of the crap that gets thrown their way in the media–there are still some strains of xenophobia that, unfortunately, seem to crop up the most when a team mostly built of “foreign” players like Arsenal comes into the conversation.

    At this point, all I want to do is wish Arsenal luck with the rest of the season, and firmly hope that we don’t have to play them in the CL next season. (If we have to meet them again next year, I really do think the Internet will explode from the cray-cray.)

  11. Vicsoc – some good points. I agree that Barca put them under pressure signficantly, however from their tactics I saw more than a significant amount of players behind the ball at any given time. Perhaps “parking the bus” sounds harsh, but I dont see much else to call it.. due to the Barca pressure or otherwise.

  12. I used to like Arsenal during the Bergkamp days. Also back when they were winning Wenger whined a lot less.

    1. I used to follow Arsenal when Bergkamp was there.
      Was always hoping that he get another year contract( Wenger’s over 30yo only 1 year extension policy).
      Remember the “nervous reaction” incident where he stamped the shit out of a player?

    2. The nervous reaction was of course from Wenger amongst the many I zizn see comments.

    3. I see why people get so pissed off at them. It’s everyone’s fault but theirs. How about looking in the mirror? When we lost, I don’t remember one of our players, forget Pep, whining the refs were corrupt. We took it on the chin and kept going. I remember being pissed at our performance than the ref’s calls that game. Arsenal played worse than we did and they have the gall to complain about the ref.

      It’s just embarrassing IMO. The respect they gained from their defensive performance is draining away. And fast.

    4. Wenger is a serious point of contention.

      He could use a lesson or two from Pep about how to act with class.

    5. To anyone who thinks that Arsenal fans are just whining about referee bias, I suggest you watch a replay of the most recent Arsenal Newcastle match. Serious official corruption in the EPL, in my opinion. There’s more to the complaining than just sour grapes, and that makes me personally a little more sympathetic towards Gooners’ complaints about refs outside of the EPL. The Newcastle match is actually what turned me from a casual Arsenal observer to someone who is taking a much more active interest in the Club (Second to Barca, of course. Just want to make that abslutely clear!).

  13. I don’t take Arsene Wenger’s comments too seriously…people say silly things in the heat of the moment. Although, he isn’t called Arsene ‘Whinger’ for nothing I guess.

    I wonder what the odds are of him becomming a FCB coach if/when Pep decides to move on. Plenty of ‘experts’ in the field say he is the next coach in waiting.

    I’d prefer Luis Enrique…but I’m bias I guess. Lets hope Pep stays around for a long, long, long time

    1. I think Pep will stay for another 2 or 3 seasons. He himself has hinted many times he does not see himself at Barça for longer than that. I would like Luis Enrique also. And after that Xavi 🙂

  14. jesus christ that was a lot of comments to go through. i’m gonna hurt tomorrow. i felt so bad for arsenal fans, it really made it hard for me to enjoy the game at the pub.

    had van persie not been running his mouth the whole match, busacca wouldn’t have shown him the card. that simple. that said, abi got off easy for trying to strangle the poor dude. 🙂

  15. Personally, I’m really glad that someone started this thread. I’m a Barca fan who also follows Arsenal, and I find it extrememely frustrating that wherever I go, everyone is at each other’s throats! I think Arsenal is a great club, and I support them whenever I’m not supporting Barca. There are so many aspects of Arsenal as a Club that we as Barca fans should appreciate. Their football isn’t the same as Barca’s, but it’s definitely a “total football” derivation, and attempting that in the EPL is no mean feat. Thanks for the thread. I’ll chime in with some actual comments on the game and/or preceding remarks once I’ve had time to go through and read the preceding comments.

  16. damn, that referee decision issues is becoming the headlines everywhere, instead of Barça’s brilliant performance …

    it’ s a shame…

  17. Everything to be said has pretty much been said. It’s a shame that the referee ruined the match, marred the history books, and the chances of mature discussion by Arsenal fans & blogs. But the truth of the matter is, to keep a team with 20 Champions League goals, a team with a chance of topping the Premiership, against ours without its two elite World Cup winning center backs, to Zero shots…

    (allow time to ponder on ZERO shots)

    …simply sums it up. End of discussion.

    What’s striking to me is there is no discussion of what for me was the most astonishing parts of the match…what I consider to be one of the Top 5 big-game penalty kicks I have ever seen.

    Find me a stronger, yet more casual, more confident penalty…mesmerizing. A man who appeared to slow down time as if it were a ‘Y’ button in his favorite video game. That was simply an EA FIFA moment.

    Now let’s talk real business..impact to our future line-up. I’ve been hoping all week that Adriano would get his much deserved start today, after his clutch performance against Valencia. But the absolute sheer pelotas of Pep to make that call, with all of the pressure on us, and no real need to score other than to play defensively, score a goal in the 2nd half, and move on with a 1-0 victory comfortably in front of a home crowd. For me this was Pep’s finest hour.

    I like Maxwell, but let’s face it, teams have been cheating when he’s on the field. With no real threat of a goal or a devasting Alves (today’s MVP) cross into the middle, they’ve been throwing bodies into the box and to stifle Alves’ runs. Now with a double-wing threat and samba finesse, we are a (shockingly) even more dangerous team and can free up the center midfield against the ‘stop Chavi, stop Barca’ defense. I’m not on the bandwagon yet, and we need to see consistency, but that is simply a game-changer if it continues.

    My big question for the group is has Mascherano played himself into a starting role on the squad? He arrived for me today…fearless However, me-thinks that with a healthy Pique & Puyol, our season’s MVP Abidal, Busi playing where he belongs, and a double Brazilian flank…it will be tough to fit him in except for specific tactical match-ups.

    Let’s all truly appreciate the victory tonight. This one was special.

    1. Ah, Euler. Like always you say it like no other could. I also liked Messis penalty, it was like a moment frozen in time. The most tragic thing for me would have been if we would go out because of Busis OG; I mean he is so phantastic, was a rock always in this saison, had to play out of position and then maybe to casue our downfall would have been too cruel.

  18. i have been an arsenal fan all my life. granted they are my second team, but i have always loved and supported them
    during the days when i had no access to la liga and only got to watch barca during the CL and the next day on youtube clips, arsenal were my team. i had laughed and cried with this team
    and that’s why i find it so incredible how much my affection for them has waned. i used to cry myself hoarse during their wins and it seems only yesterday
    i still support them in all their other matches but that spark is just gone
    my mind still wants to support them but my heart just doesn’t yield
    maybe it’s because i’ve stopped following EPL. i dunno, but i feel sad, it’s like an old friend is drifting away 🙁

Comments are closed.