What could Arsenal learn anything from Inter's Barca victory?

By Avenell Dave

I had a bet with a fellow Addict last week that Barcelona will beat Inter Milan and progress to the Champions League final next month.

Despite Jose Mourinho's turgid tactical nous. I still thought Messi and co would have enough about them.

The afore-mentioned Addict suggested that Inter would show us how we made Barca look good and he said it again after the game last night.

You could argue that the long coach trip due to airport chaos and the mistaken 'offside' third goal from Inter are factors you couldn't bargain for.

But looking at the stats after the game made for incredible reading.

Barca has almost 70 per cent of possession and made four or five times as many passes, with their fifth highest passer, Keita, making four times as many completed passes as the highest passer for Inter.

This is an Inter side, remember, who have dominated Serie A in recent seasons due to the Calciopoli scandal and some sensible, solid performances.

The pressure has been on Mourinho because after going 15+ years without winning the Scudetto, the Inter hierarchy have made winning the Champions League a priority and even questioned the Special Needs', I mean Special One's tenure if he doesn't win the trophy.

I don't buy the argument that we made Barca look good. They were on fire and sometimes you simply can't handle quality like that.

Of course, our ability to seriously protect the back four, trust in a top class goalkeeper and have a defensive unit drilled to ensure maximum efficiency were telling issues when we faced Barca.

But watching last night, there were plenty of lessons we could learn.

Arsene Wenger aspires to playing the sort of football that entertains everyone and yet it is still a level down from Barca.

Inter won despite conceding possession for great parts of the game and they're hardly a long ball outfit.

That means we have to play smarter, using our ball players to control possession while encouraging a cutting edge that disappeared when RvP got injured.

Our previous success was based as much on swift counter attacks as slower, deliberated moves and perhaps we need to work on that side of the game as well.

No one man marked Messi but he only completed a fraction of the dribbles he attempted, because smart tackling rather than desperate lunges suffocated his game.

Does that mean we need another holding midfielder to shield the defence and stop talented playmakers? Perhaps. It worked when we had Vieira and Petit.

Inter didn't water the pitch because they knew Barca preferred it with moisture and much was made of that.

We DO like a wet pitch, but why not make things less comfortable for our opponents?

We're renowned for our welcome but when visiting players get treated like royalty, it puts them in a better frame of mind than if the room is cold or dark or simply less 5* than we currently provide.

But a lesson too from both sides: quality is everything.

Players such as Wesley Sneider and Samuel Eto'o deliver. Consistently.

They have a strong supporting cast and we simply haven't been able to do that when inevitable injuries kick in.

The importance of homegrown players who know what it means to play for the Arsenal will regain the hunger and desire that was lacking on Sunday, wherever they originated from and whatever the identity on their passports.

It won't take much to turn us into a winning team.

I'm sure Wenger knows that.