Former Manchester United youth player Danny Higginbotham believes Arsenal do not have the mental strength to come back from going a goal down and tend to panic when they fail to score in the first half. The north London club kept Barcelona at bay for 70 minutes but failed to hold on as defensive mistakes in the final third allowed Lionel Messi to score two past the Gunners in quick succession.
Arsenal will play United next on Sunday, 28 February, and Higginnbotham believes that Arsenal are still "naive, panicky and anxious", something that has prevented their progress into further rounds of the Champions League and will also cost them the league title this season. The Gunners are only two points adrift of the top of the table, joint on points with Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference.
Higginbotham has urged the north London club to practice patience at Old Trafford and not go running after the ball if the score stays goalless at half time. The Gunners have been known to expose themselves to the counter on occasions such as these, something that United can look to profit from when they square off at Old Trafford this weekend.
"This was the fourth year in a row when Arsenal lost their last-16 first leg at home, simply because they were too desperate to win a game they could have drawn. In each of the last three years, a 0-0 at the Emirates, combined with their second leg away result, would have sent them through to the quarter-finals," Higginbothm writes in the Independent.
"But this Arsenal team do not learn. They are an experienced side, not that you would not know it from how they play: naive, panicky and anxious, especially at home and also when they do not take an early lead. This is more likely than anything else to cost them the Premier League title this season.
"Arsène Wenger's side go to Manchester United on Sunday and if it is 0-0 at half-time, as it often is at Old Trafford these days, Arsenal must keep their heads, stay calm, and not chase the game so hard they expose themselves to the counter-attack," he added.