Arsenal were outclassed by title-holders Barcelona, who gave them a lesson in passing football and pressing on the night.

BARCELONA, SPAIN: The Arsenal team line up ahead of during the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between FC Barcelona and Arsenal WFC at Estadi Johan Cruyff on October 05, 2021. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN: The Arsenal team line up ahead of during the UEFA Women’s Champions League group C match between FC Barcelona and Arsenal WFC at Estadi Johan Cruyff on October 05, 2021. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

It is not often that the Gunners are outplayed by the opposition, but what we saw last night was a superb football display by the champions.

Barcelona were excellent on the ball making it really hard for the Gunners to defend. Their off-the-ball movement was also fantastic.

Their pressing game just smothered the Arsenal players, who were rarely able to build up an attack. As soon as Barca did drop the pressure around the hour mark, as they were 3-0 up by then, Arsenal managed to get on top, create chances and score a goal through Maanum.

In terms of qualification, it is not a great start but the runner-up spot is good enough to go through to the quarter-finals. So Arsenal just need to make sure they beat Hoffenheim and Koge to go through.

There is no shame to be beaten by a world-class team. It is also a wake-up call for any player or staff member who could have started to be complacent following the excellent season start with eight wins in eight games. There was a huge gap between the two teams and we can only regret that most players did not manage to raise their level to match the opposition’s one.

Jonas Eidevall selected the following starting XI: Zinsberger; Maritz, Williamson, Beattie, Catley; Wälti, Maanum, Little; Mead, Miedema, McCabe.

The first goal came after a long period of pressure from Barca and it was disappointing to see the manner it was conceded in. Nobody closed down Oshoala. Her shot was pushed back straight into Caldentey who finished easily as Little did not follow her on the rebound.

Why were the defenders asleep not following the play? And why did Zinsberger parry the ball down the middle instead of to the side? The Austrian goalie had a mixed game, making spectacular saves including from a penalty late in the game, but she also messed up her long passing a few times which did not help her defense to relieve the Barca pressure.

The second goal was a simple tap-in from Putellas after Oshoala managed to get away from the defense and made an easy cut-back.

The Arsenal players were appealing for an offside, but we do not have a good view and also VAR was not in action so we have no idea if it is was the right or wrong decision.

The third goal was a midfield positioning error as no one closed down Caldentey. She sent Oshoala through and no centre-back is going to outrun the Nigerian forward, who finished well.

You can’t give away so much time and space to world-class players, they will punish and they did. It was a superb through ball and an excellent finish too.

The sole Arsenal goal came after excellent play and a Parris shot that was saved on the line. The ball then went out to the wing for a free-kick. Heath put it on a plate in the box and Maanum headed it in for the 3-1.

The fourth Barcelona goal was from Martens, who was sent through on goal and chipped Zinsberger.

Overall it was a well-deserved defeat. Some people mentioned the referee being unfair in giving more yellow cards to the Gunners with a six to one count. Referees in Europe are not lenient and will not favor physical play like the FA WSL ones. The standard is different.

UEFA demands the full application of law 12 in their games, unlike the FA.

Referees get badly graded if they don’t strictly apply the Laws Of The Game. It is the only way to ensure consistency, otherwise, the same foul could get you nothing one day, a yellow card one day, and a red card another – like in England where the blame lies with the PGMOL.

Next is Everton at home and three points will be needed to get back into the grove. Not to mention, Everton are a declared Champions League places competitor so getting a gap of nine points over them would be excellent news.

The mid-week game will see the Gunners take on Germany’s third-placed team Hoffenheim who destroyed Koge yesterday 5-0. It won’t be an easy game, but certainly not as tough as Barcelona away.