Arsenal will face Barcelona in the first leg of the last-16 of the Champions League at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.
This game will be the sternest test for Arsene Wenger’s men this season. Not many people expect the Gunners to claim a positive result from this game, but the Catalan club have failed to defeat the North London club on their home ground on last two occasions.
The last meeting between the clubs at Emirates Stadium ended in a 2-1 win for the North Londoners. Whatever might be the result, every football fan is excited about this game.
Arsenal will be without centre-back Gabriel, who has failed to recover from his hamstring injury on time. The midfield duo of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla also remains out. Tomas Rosicky is not expected to play before April.
Manager Arsene Wenger confirms in his press conference: “We are still without Wilshere, Cazorla and Gabriel. Everyone else is available.”
Petr Cech will be back in the starting eleven after making way for David Ospina in the FA Cup tie with Hull City.
Former Barcelona youth player Hector Bellerin will feature in the right-back position against his former club. His compatriot Nacho Monreal will play as a left-back.
Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker will form the centre-back partnership for the Gunners.
Francis Coquelin will be given the important role of shielding the back four against the attacking impetus of the Catalan club. Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey will feature in a box-to-box midfield role next to him.
Star playmaker Mesut Ozil will be the key man for the Gunners in this game. He will handle the creative responsibilities in the attacking midfield role.
Former Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez has failed to impress in his last couple of outings, but Wenger backs him to shine against his former club. He will play on the left wing.
“I don’t think he was completely ready to come on. It looked like that but he grows with the game does Sanchez,” Wenger was quoted by the Mirror.
“He has a game based on risk, and when he’s completely tuned in, it becomes dangerous. Don’t worry about Tuesday, he will be tuned in.”
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to feature on the opposite flank. Olivier Giroud will lead the attacking lines for the Gunner and will look to trouble the Barcelona defence with his physical presence.
Cech, Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Bellerin, Coquelin, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain.