Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
insisted on Monday he was not indulging in psychological warfare ahead
of Tuesday’s Champions League Last 16 second leg clash with bogey team
The Frenchman was referring to the surprise inclusion
of Dutch forward Robin van Persie in the squad after he was ruled out
last week because of injury.
Arsenal lead 2-1 from the first leg
at the Emirates but they will have last season’s quarter-final fresh in
their memories where they drew 2-2 at home but were demolished 4-1 in
the second leg with Leo Messi scoring all four goals.
Persie) is here as a player with a possibility of taking part … We
have 19 players and the squad has not yet been decided,” said Wenger, who denied that injured players Theo Walcott and Alex Song would also make dramatic comebacks.
has made quick progress over the last few days and this morning he had
tests as he really wanted to play and we will see how he is in the
“This is not mind games. I really want him to play but only if he is 100 per cent fit.
Van Persie he has had a ligament problem which is different to a
muscular injury and so the risk is a lot less of himself doing damage.
“It is more a case of how he feels.”
playmaker Cesc Fabregas missed the game at the Nou Camp last season but
is now expected to play after overcoming a hamstring strain.
have been feeling fine for the last few days and so I am okay to play.
We want to win this game for our club and nothing else,” said Fabregas,
who has been a transfer target for Barcelona where he came through the
youth ranks before leaving for the Gunners.
“I am not here to try and shut people up but purely to win for Arsenal and then move on.
showed what we can do in the first leg and we have not come just to
defend as we are a big club and we need to play our own game.
season if we had managed to keep hold of our 1-0 lead for longer then
you never know what might have happened as they would have got nervous
but instead Messi scored four outstanding goals.”