Arsenal will hope to make it third time lucky against Barcelona on Tuesday night when these two giants come together in the round of 16 match of the Champions League. Arsene Wenger will be hoping that Petr Cech can continue his record of not conceding a goal to Messi, who has been the biggest thorn in Arsenal’s progression to the next round many a times. Arsenal enter this match on the back of a goalless draw against Hull City in the FA Cup on Saturday, while Barcelona arrive in London full of confidence, having claimed another victory in La Liga at the weekend. Luis Enrique’s team are now 32 games unbeaten in all competitions this season.
After a disappointing draw against Hull City in the FA Cup, Wenger and his team will need every ounce of skill, fortitude and luck at their disposal to shock the current European champions, who beat the Gunners in the 2006 final and knocked them out in 2010 and 2011. The manager rested many of his key players for the match against Hull, therefore, expect a number of changes to the Arsenal side which started on Saturday.
The Gunner’s solid home record has seen a dip of late with a draw against Southampton and defeat against Chelsea. Overcoming Barcelona over two legs remains a challenge for Arsenal, who have matched to stay undefeated against this very opposition at home in three matches but have been torn apart at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona are in imperious form. Currently eight points clear at the top of La Liga, they easily won their Champions League group, eight points ahead of second-placed Roma. The front three consisting of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is a daunting prospect. The three attackers between themselves have hit an astonishing 91 goals this season heading into Tuesday’s game. Suarez, who Wenger tried to sign from Liverpool in 2013, has been particularly lethal with 41 goals in all competitions this season. However for the Gunners the biggest threat will come from Messi who has 6 goals in 4 matches against them.
Arsenal rotated their squad against Hull City, leaving out Mesut Ozil who was suffering from slight illness but has been declared fit to start on Tuesday. Sanchez on the other came as a substitute on Saturday but should start against his former side. Ramsey and Giroud will also return to the starting line-up, while the long term absentees Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Gabriel will miss out.
Luis Enrique will be boosted, by the return of defender Gerard Pique, who was rested at the weekend, and defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets from suspension. Barcelona will have a full strength team.
Predicted Arsenal line-up: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez and Giroud
Predicted Barcelona line-up: Ter Stegen, Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic, Messi, Suarez and Neymar
Predicted Scoreline: Arsenal versus Barcelona – 1-2