Walcott aims to rattle Barcelona

06 April 2010 07:51
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott has vowed to take the game to Barcelona when the teams meet in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.Walcott inspired the Gunners' comeback in the 2-2 first-leg draw at the Emirates Stadium and hopes to cause Barcelona more problems in Spain. [LNB]"As an attacker you have to be on the front foot. Hopefully I can get at them and give them a problem," he said. [LNB]"If I can create space for some of the others then that's all part of my job." [LNB]Walcott came off the bench to score Arsenal's opening goal in the first leg, as they managed to salvage a draw despite having been largely outplayed in the early part of the game and gone 2-0 down courtesy of two Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals. [LNB]But Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola played down the importance of Walcott's contribution, instead picking out goalkeeper Manuel Almunia as Arsenal's real hero. [LNB]"Let's be clear, Walcott was not the determining factor, the determining factor was Almunia, who saved 12,000 balls," he said.[LNB] [LNB][LNB]Wenger relishes chance to beat Barca[LNB]Defender Maxwell struggled to deal with Walcott's pace in the first leg and he is likely to be replaced by Eric Abidal for the game at the Nou Camp. [LNB]Frenchman Abidal is undaunted by Walcott's speed, saying: "It may be really good for him to run 100m in a little over 10 seconds, but the aim is to get to the goal. [LNB]"We'll wait there for him and we'll see what he can do with the ball - let's see if he can get past four defenders." [LNB]Under manager Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have produced some impressive away results in Europe, including wins at AC Milan and Real Madrid, and a 5-1 victory over Inter Milan.[LNB] [LNB][LNB] And Wenger sounded an upbeat note despite the challenge of having to beat the European champions to progress to a semi-final against Inter or CSKA Moscow. [LNB]"We've won away everywhere in Europe - Barcelona is a place where we haven't done it, so there is no better opportunity than Tuesday," he said. [LNB]Arsenal will be without a number of players, with Alex Song ruled out with knee and groin problems, while Andrey Arshavin and William Gallas are also out through injury. [LNB]Skipper Cesc Fabregas is also out after breaking his leg in the first leg but would have missed the Nou Camp encounter anyway because of suspension. [LNB]"I'm confident despite the injuries we have that we can do it," said Wenger. "Of course, we will need to get everybody to 100% of his potential and have a great team performance. [LNB]"This team, though, has such a great mental strength and I believe they can fight against the odds anywhere in the world. [LNB]"They can turn up with a massive performance. The problem is not one of individuals, but about having a game-plan and making it work." [LNB]Arsenal were outclassed by Barcelona in the opening stages of the first match and Wenger admitted his side could not afford such a tentative start again if they are to progress.[LNB] We hope that another miracle happens at the Nou Camp, but let's face it... our chances are slim at best Bunburyist "We were a little bit victims of the reputation of Barcelona, they have done it, we have not done it and in our heads, they were very big," said Wenger. [LNB]"We have learned that it is important we start with full power, without any inhibition, which we showed in the first 20 minutes at the Emirates. [LNB]"How we manage to do that will certainly have a big influence on the game and on the result." [LNB]Barcelona are not invincible at home in Europe. Last October, Russian side Rubin Kazan pulled off one of the great Champions League shocks when they beat Guardiola's side 2-1 at the Nou Camp. [LNB]Their home record against English sides in recent years is also patchy, having shared goalless draws with Chelsea and Manchester United and lost to Liverpool 2-1 in February 2007. [LNB]However, under Guardiola, Barcelona have outscored their opponents 13-2 at the Nou Camp in four knockout round games. [LNB]"We're going to try to be ourselves and to get the ball and I think Arsene Wenger thinks the same," said Guardiola. "The team that has the ball more is going to win." [LNB][LNB] [LNB][LNB]Report - Arsenal anticipate Barca showdown[LNB]Guardiola goes into the game without central defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, who are both suspended, while Ibrahimovic is unavailable because of a calf injury. [LNB]And although Wenger was not looking to make a big issue of their absence, the loss of their physical presence could play into the hands of Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner. [LNB]The 22-year-old was criticised earlier in the season for missing some golden chances, but has hit back with a hat-trick in the win over Porto in the previous round, and a last-minute winner against Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday. [LNB]"He is important because he gives us something different," said Wenger. [LNB]"Bendtner has size, is good in the air, on crosses you have hope with him. [LNB]"When people told us you have no Plan B he gives us a little bit - we always want to play football, but he gives us an option in the air that we did not have without him."

Source: BBC_Sport