With the visit of Barcelona under two weeks away, Arsenal fans would be forgiven for hoping the Catalan side were going through a patchy spell of form.
That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. A late equaliser on Wednesday night secured a 1-1 draw with Valencia and extended the side’s unbeaten run to 29 games, eclipsing the record set by Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side five years ago.
Under Guardiola, Barça failed to win in two attempts at the Emirates Stadium, and Arsenal did indeed beat them in the same season they went 28 games without defeat, but securing victory against Luis Enrique’s team looks like it will be just as challenging. A number of players, including Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez were rested on Wednesday after winning the first leg of the Copa Del Rey semi-final 7-0, but even then Gary Neville’s Valencia couldn’t beat last season’s treble winners.
Former Gunner Thomas Vermaelen was involved, and Ivan Rakitic was the star of a young team not completely used to this level of football.
A late goal from Wilfrid Kaptoum made the score 8-1 on aggregate and set a new outright club record for games unbeaten, though Luis Enrique played the achievement down after the match.
“They are just numbers which approach us in finals, we’ll see if they mean trophies at the end of the season,” said the 45-year-old, unwilling to get carried away by an impressive record.
With key players rested, ‘Lucho’ may already have one eye on the Arsenal game. Before the clash in London, Barcelona face Celta Vigo at Camp Nou before away games against Sporting Gijon and Las Palmas. Maybe the fixture congestion will play into Arsenal’s hands but, right now, it looks like we’ll face a Barcelona team on a club record run of 32 matches without tasting defeat.