What next for this season?
A result of sheer disgust but little surprise.
Once Arsenal were paired with FC Barcelona on Friday, March 19 for the Champions League quarter-finals, it was apparent that Wenger’s men faced a colossal battle.
Beat them and it is a spectacular message to the rest of the continent, lose and it is absolutely no shame.
Indeed, given the sort of depleted squad which was sent out to represent Arsenal in the tie’s decisive meeting at the Camp Nou today, this had to be the biggest of scalps.
So it was quite ironic how fate somehow favored Arsenal 18 minutes after kick-off. Nicklas Bendtner utilized his grit upfront to put the visitors ahead.
But it was going to be all too temporal of an ascendancy.
Three minutes after the opener, the most formidable man on the pitch – despite all his supposed calmness last week – whipped home an equalizer.
Majestic. By the stroke of half-time, it would be impeccable.
First the Argentine sneaked into the box and fired the home side into a 2-1 lead before completing his hat trick five minutes later.
Into half-time, and Arsenal were looking at this tie just the way they saw it nearly a week ago. But while they were outclassed again, there was no escaping being outscored this time.
That was worrying for Wenger who threw on wildcards in the form of Eboue and Eduardo after the interval. It proved too little and Messi’s fourth goal three minutes from time meant it was too late. This tie had been settled a long while ago.
The Gunners have now crushed out of the Champions League and as Wenger’s men make their trip home from Spain, the ultimate question will be ‘what next?’.
An unlikely wrestle for the Premier League crown or another fruitless season?