Arsene Wenger is feeling much more confident this season than when Arsenal faced Barcelona in last year’s Champions League Quarter-Finals. The Gunners only managed to come back to earn a draw at the Emirates last time, but Wenger is confident that he has a substantially stronger side this time around.
“I personally believe we go into the Barcelona game in better shape than last year.” Wenger said. “We had so many uncertainties last season – Robin [van Persie] was injured, William Gallas went off in the first game, Andrey Arshavin went off after 27 minutes, we had no Alex Song or Fábregas in the second game … The team, for me, had less confidence and we have matured since then. We can certainly compete technically better with them. It will be interesting to see whether we play with belief.”
Wenger also made it clear that whatever happens in the return leg, Arsenal will be playing their usual attacking game at the Emirates.
He continued: “You can wonder whether we need to change the way we play at the Nou Camp but, at home, we will try to play to our strengths. We will try to attack the other team. If we just play in the final third defensively, that would not be our natural game and we would not be happy – we’d come out of the match thinking we hadn’t played. But if we can escape their pressure, then we can be dangerous. We will create chances if we can put them under pressure. We have to think about how we do that.”
There is no doubt that the injury situation is much better this year, as well as the team being another year older and stronger. And if Nasri is also in the starting line-up…….