Walcott threat is key for Gunners

Trevor Steven
Follow Trevor
ARSENAL’S focus tonight ought to be two-fold: maximise the threat of Theo Walcott and try to neutralise Barcelona by ensuring the team unit stays as compact as possible.

Walcott is a wild card as no-one else on either side has such extraordinary pace, as he has shown repeatedly this season, and did when these two sides met last season.

He tends to hug the right flank but is particularly dangerous when he drifts in and along the back four, before darting behind the centre-backs onto a through-ball from Cesc Fabregas or Jack Wilshere (right).

Walcott is also dangerous when he stays on the outside, and is perfectly capable of getting past Maxwell down the wing if Arsenal can play balls inside of the full-back.

Meanwhile, it is vital Arsenal move around the pitch as a unit, ensuring team-mates are always on hand to receive a pass and help close down space. Barcelona are brilliant at this; they always have at least two passes on at any time, and hardly ever have to resort to a long ball.

Arsenal cannot afford to leave space in front of their defence, where Barca are most dangerous. So if they lose possession in the final third the defence have to push up and occupy that space. If they lose the ball in the middle everyone must drop back.