By Niall Clarke
- Arsenal vs Barcelona preview
- Barcelona are the defending champions
LONDON, ENGLAND- Arsenal will welcome defending champions Barcelona to the Emirates as the sides meet in the UEFA Champions League last 16.
The Gunners, seeking to win the competition for the first time, have been thwarted by the Spanish champions many times in the past, but the front three known as ‘MSN’ may make this the toughest Barcelona side Arsene Wenger has faced.
Arguably the greatest attacking force in the history of the game, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have scored over 100 goals combined in all competitions this season with Suarez in particular impressing with 41 goals this campaign.
The Uruguayan striker has netted 12 in his last seven, and Wenger has identified the 29 year old as a key threat ahead of Tuesday’s game.
“We have to keep him quiet on Tuesday night.” Said Wenger.
“I believe that apart from the individual talent the three have, they have a good understanding and cohesion.
“Individually all their players are difficult to stop. We have to find a way to do it collectively.”
Luis Enrique’s side have only lost two games all season and have not tasted defeat since a 4-1 defeat at Celta Vigo in September. Barcelona sit eight points clear of second placed Atletico Madrid in La Liga after claiming a 2-1 win at Las Palmas on Saturday.
Arsenal sit third in the Premier League and looked dead and buried in the group stages of the competition. However the Gunners produced the miracle they needed to scrape through to the last 16 on goal difference.
The Premier League side have been eliminated from this stage of the competition for the past five seasons including a disappointing exit to Monaco last season. Barcelona are an even tougher task, and Arsenal will need to put on their ebst performance of the season to top the defending champions.
The Gunners rested a few first players in the goalless draw with Hull on Saturday, so players such as Alexis Sanchez, formerly of Barcelona, are expected to return. However they will be without Mikel Arteta who is nursing an injured calf. The Spaniard joins Santi Cazorla (knee), Jack Wilshere (leg), Gabriel Paulista (hamstring) and the seemingly forever injured Tomas Rosicky (thigh) on the side-lines.
Barcelona will be without Arda Turan due to suspension, and Rafinha who is injured. Otherwise Enrique has a full squad to choose from for Tuesday’s game.
Arsenal can trouble any side on their day but it is likely that Barcelona have way too much for them. The Gunners like to play a similar style to the Spanish side but there is one problem- Barcelona are just far better at it. The key will be to hang on for as long as possible before possibly using the Theo Walcott factor in the second half. Either way it is likely Barcelona win the match and take a lead back to the Nou Camp.
Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona
Arsenal vs Barcelona kicks off at 19:45 GMT on Tuesday.
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