Barcelona setback thanks to Luis Enrique; Arsenal set for a major slump: Weekend talking points

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Following the return of the Uefa Champions League, and with one eye on the FA Cup fifth round, Thomas Woods looks at the weekend's talking points.

The mauling in Munich will have big consequences for Arsenal

When you talk about Arsenal’s confidence you are dealing with a fragile beast at the best of times.
How many times have we seen them flying on a multi-game winning run only to come off the rails?
Why yes, it seems to happen every season, and usually around this time of year.
Arsene Wenger’s side fell apart in the Uefa Champions League at Bayern Munich, shipping four second-half goals to lose 5-1 and realistically ending their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.
Aside from exiting Europe, the effects of that defeat could linger. There are five Premier League teams competing for the three Champions League spots behind Chelsea and it is getting tight.
Arsenal travel to non-league Sutton United in the FA Cup before almost two weeks to prepare for a trip to Liverpool.
With West Bromwich Albion away and Manchester City at home in the next four games, a major slump might be on the cards and could cost them a top-four spot.

Paris Saint-Germain should be considered real contenders for Uefa Champions League title

Bayern’s destruction of Arsenal will have people pencilling them in as favourites for the Champions League, but should it not be Paris Saint-Germain?
The French side dominated Barcelona as they claimed a 4-0 first-leg win and that does not happen very often.
They are very similar to Bayern. They play 4-3-3, have a rock-solid defence, consistent full-backs, a number of midfield options and a striker in Edison Cavani who cannot stop scoring, supported by wingers with flair.
Angel di Maria will be key for them. He was superb when Real Madrid won the competition in 2013/14, but he is fairly injury prone and PSG would not be the same if they had to do without him for a sustained period.
They also need to have Marco Verratti fit. The Italian midfielder probably does not get quite as much attention because he plays in France and not in Spain or England. But he can control a game very well.

Luis Enrique is costing Barcelona

It has been a common complaint about Barcelona since the Pep Guardiola days. They do not have a Plan B and cannot adapt their gameplan if it is not working out.
Under Luis Enrique this season, that has come to be true. Barca rarely adapt to the opposition and that has cost them on a few occasions in the league this season, which partly explains why they trail Real Madrid in the standings despite playing two games more.
Against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, as goals flew in the other end, Barca just did not react. No attempts were made to give the defence more protection and there was no plan to help Lionel Messi get more of the ball.
Luis Enrique sticks to the Barcelona way of doing things come rain or shine, but it has become a major hindrance.
Teams have had years of watching Barcelona play 4-3-3 and years to come up with tactics to stop it.
Barca should have developed ways around that but Luis Enrique is either incapable or unwilling to do just that.

Aguero’s chance for redemption

Gabriel Jesus’s broken foot is a setback for Manchester City after the Brazilian’s impressive start to life in England.
But it is not bad to have a player like Sergio Aguero waiting on the bench.
This, if speculation is true, could be the Argentine’s last season with the club, and he now has the chance to sign off in style.
City have played some fine football over the last four or five games, with Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling in top form on the flanks and Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings in midfield.
Aguero steps into a side playing the kind of football that could result in plenty of goals for him.

Ranieri’s days at Leicester City are running out

Will Claudio Ranieri last until Leicester’s next Premier League game at home to Liverpool on February 27?
It seems unlikely as he has resorted to making threats to drop some of the players so integral to them winning the Premier League title last season to try to get them performing again.
Leicester, a point above the relegation zone, travel to third-tier Millwall in the FA Cup this weekend.
Does Ranieri rest his stars and risk another defeat to focus on Premier League survival?
Leicester’s owners will have seen the impact a new manager has had on Swansea City and Hull City in recent weeks.
It will not be long before they follow suit if results do not improve.

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