Alex Iwobi, Mohamed Elneny impress for Arsenal in Barcelona defeat
Arsenal are out of the Champions League after an exquisite display of finishing from Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. The Gunners put up a brave fight at the Camp Nou, but could not cope with the clinical excellent of this brilliant Barcelona side.
The defeat means the Premier League is now all Arsenal have left to play for. Arsene Wenger must hope these players can recover in time to produce a performance at Everton on Saturday. The Gunners need to start picking up points if they are to return to the Champions League next season.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK David Ospina, 7 -- Since coming into the side to replace the injured Petr Cech, Ospina has been very solid. In this match, he made one particularly good save to deny Messi a first-half wonder goal. The fact he conceded three was more to do with the quality of Barcelona's finishing rather than any deficiencies in the Colombian's game.
DF Hector Bellerin, 5 -- The former Barcelona academy player looked understandably overawed on his return to the Camp Nou. He was caught upfield on the first goal, and Luis Enrique's team frequently sought to exploit the space in his channel. This was an educational night for Arsenal's young right-back.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 5 -- Arsenal's captain on the night will be very disappointed with his part in the opening goal. Koscielny tried to dribble the ball out of defence, but was caught by Barca's pressing game and lost possession. The quick turnover allowed the Catalan side to exploit the space in the Arsenal back four, and the outcome of the tie was effectively settled. He won't be happy about Barcelona's third either; an Olivier Giroud back-pass wrong-footed him, allowing Messi to capitalise.
DF Gabriel Paulista, 6 -- The Brazilian centre-half must learn to keep his temper in check. After a couple of reckless challenges against Watford last weekend, he was booked in this game for dissent. However, he also found time to produce some important last-ditch defending.
DF Nacho Monreal, 8 -- After a couple of games on the bench, Monreal looked fresh and fired up on his return to Spain. Coping with Messi is a nightmarish task, but Monreal was somehow also able to get forward and support Alex Iwobi in attack.
MF Mathieu Flamini, 6 -- A surprise starter, Flamini was withdrawn after just 44 minutes with an injury problem. However, in the first half he had been an impressively energetic presence at both ends of the field.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 8 -- The Egyptian midfielder continues to go from strength to strength. With Aaron Ramsey sidelined, Elneny is making the box-to-box midfield role his own. He was tidy on the ball and opened his Gunners account with a superb side-footed strike into the roof of the net. He probably ought to have had another to his name, but dallied in front of goal during the first half.
MF Mesut Ozil, 7 -- From the moment he took a shot on from 30 yards inside the opening few minutes, it was clear Ozil was up for this game. Although he could not produce the telling moment of magic required to give Arsenal a realistic chance of qualification, his passing was as crisp and intelligent as ever.
FW Alex Iwobi, 8 -- On his first Champions League start, the 19-year-old acquitted himself superbly. The highest compliment you can pay Iwobi is that he did not look out of place on the Camp Nou pitch. In his previous first-team outings, the Nigerian has been used as a No. 10. However, he showed in this game that he can also provide a good option on the flank.
FW Alexis Sanchez, 6 -- Wenger moved Alexis to the right-hand side for this game, and it seemed to get the Chilean more involved in Arsenal's attacking play. However, he still made some bewildering decisions, regularly ignoring the runs of his teammates to pursue his own goal-scoring ambitions. When it works, it's thrilling. When it doesn't, it's very frustrating indeed.
FW Danny Welbeck, 7 -- Arsenal are a better side with Welbeck leading the line. His finishing may still need to improve, but his movement and athleticism bring the Gunners' attacking game to life. He was unlucky not to score too, with one left-footed shot clipping the top of the crossbar. Welbeck was withdrawn early, and Arsenal fans should hope that's a sign he'll start at Goodison Park on Saturday.
MF Francis Coquelin, 6 -- Came on for the injured Flamini and put in a solid performance at centre-half.
FW Olivier Giroud, NR -- Replaced Welbeck and was booked for a foul on Sergi Roberto.
FW Theo Walcott, NR -- Came on for Iwobi and might have scored but for a heavy first touch.