7th March, 2011
Robin van Persie has been added to the Arsenal squad for their Champions LeagueÂ clash with Barcelona at Camp Nou Tuesday, the London club announced on its website today.
The Dutch forward was substituted during the Carling Cup Final on February 27Â after suffering a knee injury. But he trained with his team-mates at LondonÂ Colney on Monday and has travelled to Spain. His inclusion is seen as a bigÂ surprise and signalled that Manager Arsene Wenger wants to throw in all hisÂ cards in the game.
Arsenal Captain, Cesc Fabregas, is also in the squad. Earlier today, manager Arsene Wenger hadÂ certified him 90 per cent fit to play in the crucial second leg tomorrow.
Arsenal leads the Spanish champion by a slim margin of 2-1.
The manager ahead of the match has hinted of a change in tactics, according toÂ Arsenal web site. The Gunners are renowned for their free-flowing, expansive play in the Premier League but their manager knows that pragmatism, not idealism, is the key to their success this time around.
“We will have to [play another way] because itâ€™s one of the few games where weÂ will spend 60 per cent of the time defending,” said Wenger.
“We have to fight against the pre-conceived ideas because the only way ofÂ thinking is that Arsenal cannot defend. I will just remind you that in the last seven games we have seven clean sheets in the Premier League, we have conceded less goals than Man United who have a very good defence.
“We prefer to attack that is for sure, but we can defend when we have to.”
Nicklas Bendtner gave Arsenal a shock lead at the Nou Camp last year beforeÂ Messi took over and Wenger thinks his players can learn lessons from thatÂ encounter.
“We can learn and I would like to have the same start as last year because IÂ feel defensively we can cope better with their pressure,” he said. “That is whatÂ we want to show. The second leg last year was the Lionel Messi show, you canÂ never bet on a poor performance from Messi. Thatâ€™s certainly one of the keys ofÂ the game.
“Of course we would take [a 0-0 draw],” he added. “But it is a little bit of an illusion to go to Barcelona and think they will not score at all. So you have to think we want to score at least a goal.
ArsÃ¨ne Wenger’s 19-man squadÂ will be cut to 18 ahead ofÂ Tuesday’s game at the Nou Camp.
Robin van Persie