Neil Humphreys on Arsenal: No quality, no future
Wenger must go, and so must half of the Gunners
Barcelona like playing Arsenal. It's easy
The Catalan giants view the Gunners in the way you might view a Friday at the office, when the boss is away for a long weekend and there's a chance to wear casual clothes and resume the chance to chat up the pretty intern at the reception.
In theory, it's work, in the sense that you're being paid a salary to turn up at the same workplace to carry out perfunctory duties.
But the relaxed atmosphere and laid-back approach to productivity make it seem like a stroll around the Nou Camp against Arsenal.
Barcelona's victory yesterday morning (Singapore time) was so assured and routine that it effectively ended the Arsene Wenger debate.
Of course he should go at the end of the season.
But so should half his side.
This was the irrefutable proof needed in the case for his prosecution.
The Gunners are simply fashioned by their manager to always fall short; a study in sustained mediocrity.
In fact, they are so reliable when it comes to losing in the last 16 - this is their sixth consecutive loss at this stage of the competition - that it's almost overlooked what a sub-standard gaggle of underperforming celebrities they really are.
At least six of the players involved at the Nou Camp should not be around next season.
David Ospina, Gabriel Paulista, Mathieu Flamini, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and unused substitute Per Mertesacker must swim against the tide of public opinion and hope Wenger stays on.
Surely no other manager would want them in a squad with expectations beyond finishing in the top four of the English Premier League and surviving the group stage of the Champions League.
Despite turning 27 this week, Walcott is still waiting for his performances to catch up with that elusive potential that saw him, rather idiotically, called up for the 2006 World Cup squad.
Once considered the future of English football, he's no longer a reliable starter in either European or domestic matches. Walcott encapsulates Arsenal's drift towards irrelevance.
In the 86th minute at the Nou Camp, Walcott broke free in the box, carving himself a decent opportunity.
No one held their breath. Everyone anticipated the bumbling outcome.
He never scores in such situations.
Just over a minute later, Lionel Messi found himself in a tighter, more difficult position, squeezed between two centre backs and chasing a bobbling ball.
Everyone held their breath. He always scores in such situations.
Comparing Walcott to Messi appears facetious, but it's the only comparison to make in the knockout stages. Arsenal will always encounter teams like Barcelona, rather than Watford (which is handy because they can't beat them either).
The chasm between the two clubs was not defined by the goals, but by the gaps between them.
For 14 whole minutes, Barcelona appeared mortal. Mohamed Elneny's outstanding strike had cancelled out Neymar's opener and, between minutes 51 and 65, Arsenal stretched the gaps between Barca's lines.
Alexis Sanchez charged, Danny Welbeck snatched at half-chances and the Gunners, for 14 whole minutes, had a global audience struggling to contain their indifference.
Because Arsenal just cannot profit from brief periods of dominance, thanks to an inferior squad put together by a penny-pinching manager.
Flamini huffed and puffed until he ran out of oxygen.
Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny struggled to track markers.
Mesut Oezil combined brief flashes of wizardry with his usual walkabouts. Welbeck cultivated spaces, but lacked precision.
And Giroud and Walcott, when they came on, were just Giroud and Walcott - a comic double act that always gets a laugh whenever someone prefixes their names with the adjective "world class".
With the exception of Oezil, sometimes, these players never intimidated their Nou Camp hosts, or even Tottenham, Watford, Swansea and Southampton in recent weeks.
Alex Iwobi, the 19-year-old Nigerian, was the lonely bright spot on another gloomy night, the latest straw to clutch for the increasingly desperate Wenger.
But it's a broken record repeating a broken philosophy. Before Iwobi, it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Before the Ox, it was Walcott.
While the broken record plays at the Arsenal, the beautiful band at Barcelona plays on.
Luis Suarez's fabulous volley didn't kill off the tie. The contest died a fortnight ago in the first leg, or in the January transfer window when reinforcements were not brought in, or in pre-season when Petr Cech's signing was the only one of note.
Or perhaps even years ago, when a dogmatic manager refused to acknowledge a side filled with soft underbellies across almost every position.
Wenger should be asked to leave not because he will again fail to win the two trophies that really matter to a club of Arsenal's stature.
He must leave because he seriously believed that a squad with Giroud, Walcott, Flamini, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Ospina and so forth could win those trophies.
Wenger is at least half a team short.
And the Gunners are half the world away from winning the Champions League.
"They’ve got a weak group of players, who can’t seem to lift themselves for certain games. It must be hard for the manager and for the supporters when they see the players lifting it for certain games but then can’t do it for Watford at home or Swansea at home. They’re cheating the supporters in that sense."
— Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane on Arsenal
"I’m not sure if he will still be there in the summer, if they don’t win the league... I think change is coming. At some stage, it’s got to happen and I think something’s got to happen this season with what’s happening with Arsenal, especially if they don’t win the league."
— Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright on Gunners manager Arsene Wenger
BY THE NUMBERS
Arsenal have equalled the record for successive Round-of-16 Champions League exits of Real Madrid from 2004/05-2009/10
Barcelona's Lionel Messi had five shots on target over the two legs against Arsenal, only one fewer than the entire Gunners team.