One of the disappointing aspects of the Champions League game on Tuesday was the lack of proactive pressing on the Barcelona players in the build up play.
Pressing did happen from time to time but more in a reactive and disorganised way.
We know that the game plan was to wait for Barcelona to set up their play, defend deep in a tight block and hit them on the break if possible. It did not always work right on the night as the ball was quite often given back to the catalan players a bit too quickly.
What I wonder is if the coaching staff did enough video analysing of the Barca team. There were moments in the game where the forwards and midfielders should have pushed up together and pressed the ball holder like a pack of wolves.
Those were the times where Barca were vulnerable on the ball as they were building up play from the back. When you look at a basketball game, the attacking team announce a set play and the opposition’s defense instantly adjust and react with their own positioning (zonal defending, man marking etc). The same thing can be applied to football in certain circumstances.
On certain occasions, there were repeated patterns of play from Ter Stegen to Busquets then to his full-back, which should have been prime occasions to press and win the ball high on the pitch. If Giroud, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez, Ramsey and Coquelin had coordinated their movement and closed down the player on the ball, there would have been a great chance of Barcelona turning the ball over.
That option was available four or five times in each half of the game and was clearly missed because the pressing was only done by one or two players, which left the Barca players able to find a spare man free in space.
Those were missed opportunites and the responsibilty lies with Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff.