Barcelona, inspired by Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, took control of their Champions League tie with Arsenal by securing a 2-0 victory over the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium in midweek.
But Merson believes the hosts were excellent for the first 65 minutes, while hinting that opponents Barcelona are fairly average without the attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez.
“For the first 65 minutes Arsenal were outstanding. But the second half is Arsenal all over. Their discipline went completely out of the window and they opened the game up and got caught,” Merson said.
“Their concentration levels are poor. And they missed chances as well. If they had scored at the end of the first half, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had that chance, it might have been different.”
“Barcelona are only winning games because of their front three. If you put Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in the Arsenal team they’d have won 8-0.”
Arsenal did miss a great chance through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, yet Barcelona were also guilty of missing a number of excellent opportunities with Suarez the main culprit.
The Barcelona front three are a devastating proposition, and the three of them together could certainly turn Arsenal into Champions League contenders should the shoe be on the other foot.
Merson, however, seems fairly dismissive of Barcelona’s other talents including Spanish World Cup winners Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets and Argentine ace Javier Mascherano.
Much has been made of Barca’s dynamic MSN, yet the unsung heroes are those keeping the back door shut and many observers have failed to appreciate the defensive work conducted by the team.