Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says his side are far stronger than they were this time last year and believes they can topple Barcelona.
Arsenal take on the La Liga champions in a Champions League last-16 clash on Wednesday, less than a year after Barcelona disposed of Wenger’s side at the quarter-final stage of European football’s premier club competition.
But Wenger insists his side will not lie down again, saying: “We have the belief and a strong togetherness to show we are a different team now,” said Wenger.
“In the first half of the home game last year we were spectators a little bit and were a bit inhibited. I believe that confidence-wise and mentally we are a completely different team today.”
“We are now a stronger team because we have attitude and I have not seen many teams with such consistent focus every day.”
“We are in an ideal condition to face Barcelona. We cannot complain, we have the belief, the confidence and the players available.”
Despite the talk of fight, toughness and attitude, Wenger stands by his side’s style of play.
“Everybody expects an exciting match because we are two teams who play quality football,” he said.
“Tomorrow we want to be faithful to our philosophy, to make sure we dominate the game, that we pass the ball and that we have possession of the ball.”
“If we do that, we have a very good chance of beating them.”
Wenger’s chances have been boosted by the unexpected return of influential Frenchman Samir Nasri.
“He’s recovered quicker than expected. I said it will be 21 days but it will be only 17 days,” Wenger said, adding: “Everybody is adamant that he is completely medically available.”
Nasri’s compatriot Bacary Sagna is suspended and his place is likely to go to Emmanuel Eboue.