Tonight didn’t just see the toppling of Barcelona, by a resurgent Arsenal side who rode their luck but eventually prevailed. It gave us a glimpse of English footballs future in the form of 19 year-old Jack Wilshere.
He was everywhere, tackling, passing, marshalling the midfield and seemed to have time on the ball in the tightest of spaces, and against a Barcelona midfield that featured Spanish World Cup winning trio Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergi Busquests as well as arguably the best player in the world Lionel Messi.
It says so much for England’s future that a 19 year-old played beyond his years and ultimately led Arsenal to a victory that at half time looked so improbable.
Both teams started the game at a frantic pace, and it was Arsenal who looked to have got the better of the early exchanges. An early through ball from Fabregas found Van Persie unmarked but he missed from a narrow angle.
But then came the Barcelona show, and 50 minutes of football that outlined why the pope called for them when he wanted to see the best team in the world.
Villa took his first chance well after 25 minutes and Messi had the ball in the net again five minutes later, but was wrongly adjudged to be offside.
And then they tired, Villa was taken off and defensively minded Kieta came on. It was like Wenger sensed a weakness, and threw on Arshavin, an attacking player for Song who rode his luck after picking up an early yellow.
And it was Arsenal who dominated the last 20 minutes. Wilshere continued to find time on the ball and picked his passes. Koscielny was fantastic at the back, and picked off Messi everytime he came close to the 18 yard box and eventually a Clichy chip found Van Persie, who hammered the ball home from a tight angle.
Then came the moment of magic, as Wilshere found Fabregas, who played it forward to Nasri. Nasri cut inside the last man before rolling the ball across goal in to the path of Arshavin who hammered the ball home for the most majestic of goals.
Arsenal hung on for the two minutes of stoppage time, and claimed a vital one goal lead to take to the Nou Camp, but more importantly, they take Jack Wilshere. He was outstanding.