Wenger: Arsenal are underdogs against Barcelona
Arsene Wenger has described the Champions League showdown against Barcelona as a 50:50 clash, but concedes that most people will expect Arsenal to be eliminated against the reigning European champions.
Arsenal were paired with Pep Guardiola's side in Friday's Champions League draw in Nyon and Wenger knows the tie represents a daunting proposition for his side as they bid to reach the final of Europe's elite club competition for the second time.
“We will not be favourites but for me it will be 50:50 game,” said Wenger. “They are a good side, we are a good side, it will be interesting and exciting, we have to make sure we have the focus and belief right.
“You go to the bookmakers tomorrow and you will see we are not favourites. For me, it is a 50;50 game, if we turn up with our best performance we have a good chance to beat them.”
The tie will also see the return of Thierry Henry, a player who was voted in a poll of Arsenal fans as the club’s greatest ever player.
“We are always in contact,” said Wenger. “What is important is that on the day everyone sees a good football game. When you are in the quarter-final, you play good teams. Barcelona are a good team. More important than admiring then is to focus on us.
“It is an exciting tie for football reasons,. In modern game, the worry is that you do not talk about football. Man City v Chelsea, people were not talking about football but a handshake. I was excited about the football game.”
Arsenal will have Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Song available again for tomorrow’s Premier League match against West Ham, but William Gallas is absent and a major doubt for the Champions League first leg against Barcelona.
“At the moment it doesn’t look good but end of season he should play again,” said Wenger.
“The West Ham game is our next game and, in football, the next games makes your life. We fight hard to be in a strong position in championship; let’s focus on what is important for us. It can be a distraction if we speak about Barcelona and not West Ham.
"We can show we have matured and are intelligent. Intelligence in life is to know what is important to you. We have promised ourselves to give it absolutely everything. We are in a position where we want to win every single game.”