Why Barcelona win proved Arsenal youngsters have maturity to triumph at the Nou Camp

The Uefa Full Time Report is packed full of incredible statistics and Arsenal's win over Barcelona made for particularly fascinating reading.

Arsenal made 423 passes and completed 299, which is 71 per cent. Barcelona made 773 and completed 629 (81 per cent). Barcelona also had 61 per cent of the possession.

Let's face it. Arsenal do that to Premier League opposition week-in and week-out and don't always win. You can bet a few managers will have managed a wry smile as they watched Barcelona "do an Arsenal" on Arsenal. But you've got to make passes count.

Which is why there's only one statistic that really matters and that is: Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona.

There's also another factor that cannot be measured by statistics - never-say-die spirit.

Arsenal had it in abundance. They will need even more of it in the Nou Camp for the return leg on March 8.

But there's no doubt in their minds - they can complete the job against Barcelona. The return leg will all centre on Cesc Fabregas' emotional return to the Nou Camp.

However, the other stat to blow me away related to Jack Wilshere. He made 48 passes and completed 40, which is 83 per cent, according to Uefa's post-match report.

That ratio is higher than any other Arsenal midfielder and was better than even the great Andres Iniesta with 81 per cent.

For a 19-year-old up against the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi, that is just astonishing.

No wonder England boss Fabio Capello and his assistant Franco Baldini left the Emirates smiling. They have seen England's future and they like what they see.

Even when Arsenal were being pinned back and dominated during the first half, Wilshere never gave up - and shone.

When Arsenal led their late rally, Wilshere was at the forefront, driving forward. Samir Nasri was clearly not fully fit and Wilshere stepped into the breach to be Arsenal's best and most creative player.

It was a coming of age for Wilshere and a coming of age for Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger will point to the fact he had players missing when they crumbled in Catalonia last year, but the Arsenal manager was also hurting after such a heavy defeat.

That was Arsenal's inspiration this time. They have matured individually and collectively and really put in a brave performance that said more about their mental strength than their beautiful football.

Other players deserve great credit, too. Keeper Wojicech Szczesny was superb. He's only 20 and yet showed amazing confidence and belief to stay on his feet for as long as possible even with Messi bearing down on him.

There is simply no way that Szczesny should be displaced as Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper. He must work on his kicking, but he admits that. Don't forget that this was his Champions League debut.

Theo Walcott has also matured from supersub to first team regular. His pace frightened Barcelona, his passing, final ball and crossing is so much better now. He's even shut Chris Waddle up.

Laurent Koscielny had a towering game. His stats are superb, too. Sometimes it can be hard when writing and filing copy throughout game to digest it in the way you would when watching on TV. That's maybe why my 7/10 rating for him doesn't do him justice at all.

We file copy throughout the game, and when you have late goals it makes life difficult adding new words. Readers are amazed that we have to write before the game's over but that's a tribute to my colleagues' match reporting skills. They get a chance to rewrite later.

But another player deserves a mention and that's Andrey Arshavin. He came on and made a real difference, helping to set up the equaliser and, of course, scoring the winner.

Yet afterwards, Arshavin was straight down the tunnel, no celebrating. He walked through the mixed zone area for press interviews without stopping.

Clearly, the Russian was upset at being left out of the starting line-up. But the Champions League is a squad tournament and Arshavin showed just how important a role he has to play.

Let's hope he's not sulking and is merely determined to learn his lesson, accept his kick up the backside and come back even stronger.

Arsenal have certainly done that from a year ago.

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