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Wenger seeks ruthlessness against magical Barça

Arsène Wenger says Barcelona are "not far" from being perfect and, with tongue slightly in cheek, Luis Enrique admits that all he has to do is say the magic word.

Everything you need to know about Arsenal v Barcelona: Who will win?
Everything you need to know about Arsenal v Barcelona: Who will win?

Possible lineups
Arsenal: Čech; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Coquelin; Walcott, Özil, Sánchez; Giroud.
Out: Arteta (unspecified), Cazorla (knee), Gabriel (hamstring), Wilshere (calf/shin), Rosický (thigh)
Misses next match if booked: Özil, Giroud, Campbell

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Dani Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitić, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar.
Out: Rafinha (knee), Arda Turan (suspended)
Misses next match if booked: Piqué

Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager
No team is perfect, but Barcelona are not far from it. We need to take our chances. We will have less of the ball than against Hull, but we have to make the most of it.

They have top strikers. Maybe they look like they are having a little bit less possession at the moment because they used to have Xavi in midfield. They have a team that can score at any moment. Even when they are being dominated they are still very dangerous. They did that in the final last year against Juventus when it was 1-1. They were suffering but they took their chances when they arrived.

Can Lionel Messi break his Petr Čech hoodoo?
Can Lionel Messi break his Petr Čech hoodoo?

I knew Luis Enrique as a player. He scored against us at Wembley in the Champions League. He has done a remarkable job because he arrived with scepticism around him and won the treble in his first year.

I remember we played the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2006 and Messi was injured for that game. It's remarkable that was ten years ago and what he has achieved in that time.

Luis Enrique, Barcelona coach
On paper this is one of the most attractive and appealing games if you like this kind of football. Arsenal are a good team, strong in the transition and with really good players up front. They will press high at times but I hope we can keep the ball in their half and impose our own game.

Being labelled favourites means nothing. We have to prove ourselves game after game and we are going to try to. If we get a good score tomorrow that would be fantastic, but we have a lot of confidence going into the second leg whatever happens.

I am delighted to have such a good front three, and also with the squad as a whole. They are all the chosen ones because they are fantastic. I’m absolutely delighted to be their manager. I just say 'abracadabra' and the magic sparks.


Weekend results
 0-0 Hull City
The holders will travel to Humberside for a replay of their FA Cup fifth-round tie after neither side could find the winner in north London. A Joel Campbell free-kick turned onto the post by goalkeeper Eldin Jakupović was the closest either team came.

Barcelona celebrate scoring against Las Palmas
Barcelona celebrate scoring against Las Palmas©Getty Images

Las Palmas 1-2 Barcelona (Willian José 10; Suárez 6, Neymar 39)
It is eight Liga wins on the bounce for the Blaugrana, Luis Suárez opening the scoring with his 25th goal in 24 league games this season. The Azulgrana, eight points clear after their Madrid rivals both dropped points, are 32 matches without defeat in all competitions.

Form guide (all competitions, most recent first)
Arsenal: DWWDWL
Barcelona: WWWDWW

Reporter's view: Michael Harrold (@UEFAcomMichaelH)
Arsenal have been a mixed bag to say the very least in Europe this season and much will depend on their attitude on the night. Approach this fixture with the resilience and mental fortitude that produced a memorable backs-to-the-wall victory against Bayern München and they could surprise; perform like they did at home to Olympiacos and Messi, Suárez and Neymar will have a field day. It will be fascinating either way.

Did you know?
Barcelona have won their two previous two-legged knockout ties against Arsenal, in 2009/10 (6-3 aggregate) and 2010/11 (4-3), and also beat the Gunners 2-1 in the 2006 final at the Stade de France. Current coach Luis Enrique scored in both encounters in the 1999/2000 first group stage, finding the net in the 1-1 Camp Nou draw and again in a 4-2 win at Wembley. Find out more in our match background.