Arsenal welcome Barcelona to the Emirates on Tuesday night for the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. The Gunners are offered little hope of downing Luis Enrique’s powerful unit, but Arsene Wenger and his men can take heart from the fact that five years ago they overcame the odds to down the Spaniards.
Barcelona arrived in north London expected to come away with a win, and when David Villa opened the scoring in the first half they appeared on course to do so.
However, Barca squandered numerous chances to extend their lead, and when Robin van Persie equalised in the 78th minute, Arsenal sniffed an opportunity. Andrey Arshavin was the man who sent the Gunners faithful into raptures, finding the back of the net with a great finish in the 83rd minute.
While Barcelona would go on to win the return leg 3-1 and with it the tie, Arsenal’s victory in the first leg was one to remember.
Wenger employed a 4-3-2-1 formation on that occasion, with some Arsenal stars from the past on display…
GK: Wojciech Szczesny
The Pole appeared set for a successful spell in north London, but a poor 2014/15 season – on and off the pitch – saw him fall out of favour with Wenger.
The arrival of first David Ospina and then Petr Cech resulted in Szczesny joining Roma on loan for the current campaign.
RB: Emmanuel Eboue
While Eboue’s effort was never in question, he wasn’t quite technically gifted enough to nail down the right back position at the Emirates.
A move to Galatasaray in August 2011 was the result, but the Ivory Coast international failed to make his mark in Turkey and is currently without a club. The 32-year-old is believed to be training with Sunderland.
CB: Laurent Koscielny
One of only two players who started the fixture five years ago who may do so again on Tuesday. The Frenchman’s partnership with Per Mertesacker is integral to the Gunners’ success.
Koscielny was on top form against Barca in 2011, keeping Lionel Messi quiet. He’ll be hoping to repeat the feat this week.
CB: Johan Djourou
For a long period, the Swiss international appeared the man who would eventually develop into a key cog in the Arsenal defence. However, injuries hindered his development, and the arrival of Mertesacker blocked his path into the starting XI.
A switch to the Bundesliga resulted, first on loan to Hannover 96 before making a permanent move to Hamburger SV.
LB: Gael Clichy
After being spotted by Wenger as a teenager, Clichy was a top performer for the Gunners before making a surprise move to Manchester City in July 2011.
The Frenchman now vies with Aleksandar Kolarov for a spot in the Citizens’ back four.
CM: Alex Song
Another who came to Wenger’s attention while still a teenager, Song developed into a top quality defensive midfielder under the Frenchman’s tutelage.
A move to Barcelona in August 2012 didn’t quite reap the desired results, and Song has spent the past two seasons on loan at West Ham.
CM: Jack Wilshere
If only Wilshere wasn’t made of glass. The Arsenal midfielder is once again in the midst of a long injury lay-off, and at times, it feels like he spends more time on the treatment table than on the pitch.
When he is fit, Wilshere shows glimpses of the greatness that he’s hinted at for many years.
CM: Cesc Fabregas
Now turning out for rivals Chelsea, Fabregas was the man pulling the strings for Arsenal in the heart of the midfield back in 2011, with the Spaniard in top form against Barca.
Unfortunately for the Gunners, Fabregas longed for a move back to his childhood club and joined the Catalan giants ahead of the 2011/12 campaign. After two seasons at Camp Nou, Fabregas was back in the Premier League, but this time with the Blues.
AM: Samir Nasri
Nasri shone in the Gunners midfield, making 125 appearances for the club after arriving from Marseille in 2008. The Frenchman ensured he will never receive a warm welcome at the Emirates by leaving north London for Manchester City saying that he wanted to win more trophies.
AM: Theo Walcott
Like Wilshere, Walcott’s progress has been stymied by injuries in recent seasons. However, the 26-year-old has enjoyed a solid run of games this season and has produced some good form as a result.
The England international is in line to join Koscielny as the only players to start both the 2011 edition of the fixture and Tuesday’s clash.
ST: Robin van Persie
The man Arsenal fans loved and then hated. After notching up 131 goals in 274 games for the Gunners, the injury-prone Van Persie moved to Manchester United and promptly helped the Red Devils to the league title.
Now with Fenerbahce in Turkey, Van Persie’s red card in the second leg of the 2010/11 tie was the beginning of the end for Arsenal.