8/3/11

Barcelona vs Arsenal Match Preview




Wenger will not gamble on Van Persie Arsene Wenger insists he will not take a gamble with Robin van Persie unless the Dutch forward is "100% fit" to face Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Van Persie was substituted during the Gunners' Carling Cup final defeat against Birmingham after suffering a knee injury while scoring the equaliser at Wembley. Tuesday's second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie, into which Arsenal take a slender 2-1 lead, was expected to come too soon for the Holland striker. However, Van Persie trained with his team-mates at London Colney on Monday morning and was part of the 19-man squad which flew out from Luton Airport. The party also included fit again skipper Cesc Fabregas who had been out with a hamstring problem. While Fabregas is now certain to face the club he left as a teenager, Wenger revealed there would be no risks taken with 14-goal striker Van Persie, who has been plagued by injury setbacks in recent seasons. "Van Persie is here as a player and will have a test. We are 19 here in he squad. Whether Van Persie will be included has not been decided yet," Wenger said. "He has made quick progress in the last three days. He was really unlikely to travel. "He wanted to have a go. We made a test and it was quite positive. We will see how he responds to that and I will make a decision on Tuesday morning." Wenger insisted he was "very bad at mind games", after Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola was asked if it was a surprise to see Van Persie in the travelling party. However, the Gunners boss insisted: "We will not take a gamble in a game of that importance, so he will have to be fit or not fit. "I would like him to play. But I will only play him if he is 100% fit." Guardiola welcomed the late addition of Van Persie to Arsenal's squad Indeed, the Barcalona coach would be happy to see all of the Gunners' star names in the starting XI, with the likes of midfielder Alex Song and England winger Theo Walcott left behind because of injury. "I would like Song to play; maybe there could be a private flight for Walcott to come in at the last minute - you never know," said Guardiola. "I want all the great players to play, everyone against everyone and see a great show tomorrow. "I hope they are all in the team - Van Persie, [Samir] Nasri, Cesc, because I would like to play the best possible Arsenal." Guardiola, who himself has been plagued by a back complaint which needed hospital treatment, continued: "If Van Persie plays, then no problem. It is good for the team and good for everyone. If he cannot, then Arsenal have a squad with players at a great level. "Arsenal have many alternatives, are very dynamic and can play in different positions, their counter-attack is great. We will try to prevent that. "This is always a special game in the Champions League and it is a magnificent challenge." Guardiola - who won the European Cup in his first season in charge two years ago - rejected suggestions Arsenal did not have the spirit of true champions. "I keep hearing about the fragility in the minds of the Arsenal players, but I do not agree," the Barcelona boss maintained. "They are competing with Manchester United for the Premier League, reached the final of the Carling Cup and a few seasons ago were in the final of the Champions League. "Arsenal are always in the top, when you compete every season at the top, it is because they are quality. "Sometimes they sell players, but Arsenal always keep the same level. "Many teams arrive at the top for one year, but then are finished. Arsenal are there every season. "For many years they have kept up there, and that is the real merit. "Yes, they lack something, but they are a young team. "When they win the first time, they will change the mentality, they will realise they are good."

Under - 2.70
Over - 1.44

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