Arsène Wenger says his Arsenal FC side have no reason to be fearful as they host titleholders FC Barcelona, noting: "Our desire and belief in ourselves can make the difference."
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Arsène Wenger promised Thierry Henry would get "the ovation he deserves" as he returns to Arsenal FC with FC Barcelona, but added that there would be no room for sentiment once their UEFA Champions League quarter-final kicked off. Arsenal have Cesc Fàbregas doubtful while Andrés Iniesta is out for Barcelona but Josep Guardiola, who had special praise for his opponents, believes the holders can cope.
Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager
We were in the final in 2006 against Barcelona, although we had a big handicap early in that one [Jens Lehmann's red card], but both teams have moved on. We have a good opportunity to show we can beat them. The last time we played against them, in the final, it was a one-off. This time tactics will have a greater role, but you can never see a dull game between two teams like that.
We are happy to see Thierry Henry back here and he will get the ovation he deserves, but when the game starts it will be a Champions League quarter-final and we will do everything to beat him. The good thing with Barcelona is that there are many players to stop so we don't have to worry about one. I don't want the team to focus on the threat of Barcelona; we have to play our game. Our desire and belief in ourselves can make the difference. At our best, I believe we can beat any team in the world.
Josep Guardiola, Barcelona coach
Our aim will be to score an away goal and try to win the match. But we know we will have to be very, very careful, and that we will have to play well. We have to be focused – we are up against one of the best teams in the world over the past ten to 15 years. Arsenal are a phenomenal team with a great coach in Mr Wenger. A lot of people enjoy watching their style of football. They are daring and dynamic. We will need to defend well, but you can't do that if you don't attack well too.
Thierry Henry is, obviously, a player who still has Arsenal in his heart. He is returning home, but the most important thing for him is to do a good job. We also have to deal with Andrés Iniesta's absence as he is a very important player for us. He keeps the ball better than anyone, but he's not fit. We had Xavi injured before and we coped. It's part of football. Arsenal, too, have injuries. Cesc [Fàbregas] is a very, very good player. But, without him, they still beat FC Porto 5-0.
Out: Aaron Ramsey (broken leg), Robin van Persie (ankle ligaments), Kieran Gibbs (broken metatarsal), Johan Djourou (knee)
Doubtful: Cesc Fàbregas (knee)
Misses next match if booked: Gaël Clichy, Cesc Fábregas, Robin van Persie
• Andrei Arshavin, Abou Diaby and William Gallas have trained and could all feature. Fàbregas will be given another 24 hours to recover from the bruising to his knee suffered on Saturday against Birmingham City FC.
Out: Andrés Iniesta (thigh tear), Eric Abidal (groin tear)
Doubtful: Gerard Piqué (knee)
Misses next match if booked: Carles Puyol, Gerard Piqué
• Iniesta will miss the first leg after suffering a small tear to his right thigh during Saturday's 1-0 victory at RCD Mallorca.
27/03/10 Birmingham City FC 1-1 Arsenal
(Phillips 90+2; Nasri 81)
• The Gunners' six-match winning run was ended after a last-gasp equaliser in the Midlands, Bacary Sagna's clearance hitting the head of Kevin Phillips and squeezing past Manuel Almunia.
27/03/10 RCD Mallorca 0-1 Barcelona
•Zlatan Ibrahimović scored for the third game running to give FC Barcelona a 1-0 Liga win at fourth-placed RCD Mallorca, turning the ball in after Dudu Aouate was only able to parry Xavi Hernández's deflected corner.
• Arsenal have five home wins out of five in the competition this year, including the play-offs, and have gone through in all but one of their six past two-legged meetings with Spanish sides.
• Barcelona have not lost away from home in the competition proper since a defeat at Manchester United FC in the 2007/08 semi-finals.
• Guardiola captained Barcelona against Arsenal in the 1999/2000 group stage, drawing 1-1 at home and winning 4-2 at Wembley, with Henry a second-half substitute for the Gunners in both legs. Puyol was on the bench at Wembley.
• Henry remains Arsenal's record league scorer with 174 goals in 254 appearances and 226 in 369 matches overall from 1999 to 2007.
Did you know?
• Even before their 1999 encounters, Guardiola played against a Wenger-coached AS Monaco FC side in the 1993/94 group stage. Guardiola's side won 2-0 at home and 1-0 away but both teams went through only to lose to AC Milan – Monaco in the semis and Barcelona in the final.
Read more on the match in the official UEFA Champions League press kit.