Arsene Wenger delighted to have Samir Nasri back for Champions League revenge mission against Barcelona
Arsenal have been handed a major boost with news that playmaker Samir Nasri has been declared fit for tomorrow night's Champions League clash with Barcelona at Emirates Stadium.
Nasri, the club's top scorer this season with 14 goals, has been sidelined since sustaining a hamstring injury against Huddersfield in the FA Cup on January 30.
The 23-year-old was thought to be a week away from regaining fitness but he trained this morning and could start the first leg at the Emirates Stadium.
Gunning for glory: Arsene Wenger cats an eye on his Arsenal players, including Jack Wilshere, in the build-up to Wednesday's crunch Champions league tie against Barcelona
Wenger said: 'Samir is in the squad
and the starting line-up will be decided tomorrow. I will take no
medical risk. It's good to have him in the squad.
'He's recovered quicker than expected. I said it would be 21 days but it will be only 17 days.
'Everybody's absolutely adamant that he's completely medically available. It's down to me to make the decision.'
Tomas Rosicky is available after shaking off a groin injury but Abou Diaby has been ruled out with a calf problem.
The return of two key players is just the lift Arsene Wenger needed.
Leader of the pack: Captain Cesc Fabregas leads his Arsenal team-mates Theo Walcot and Samir Nasri in a warm-up
The Gunners boss has warned Wednesday night's opponents that Arsenal are desperate to prove the divide between themselves and
the greatest team in the world has vanished.
Arsenal were humbled 6-3 on
aggregate, losing 4-1 at the Nou Camp - after Lionel Messi plundered
four goals - and escaping with a 2-2 draw at home.
'We don't deny the quality of
Barcelona, but what is important for us is we have a good opportunity
to show who we are now,' he said. 'Not only that, we also want to show
Barcelona we are capable of knocking them out. We have the belief and a
strong togetherness to show we are a different team now.
'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
'We have made our way forward by challenging in the Premier League and we are still in all competitions.
'If you look at the predictions pre-season, nobody in England predicted we would be where we are today. We have made our own way through our own strength and mental belief.
Jack the lad: Wilshere does some tricks with the ball as manager Wenger watches on
Running men: Sebastian Squillaci, Alex Song and Robin van Persie are put through their paces
'Losing to Barcelona made us better
because we came out of the second game with a lot of frustrations after
missing the turning point when we were 1-0 up.
'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. We want to show how good we are. We want to show the belief we have in our game and in our quality.'
Jump to it: Lionel Messi fine tunes his preparations before Barcelona set off for the Emirates at the club's Joan Gamper training headquarters
Arsenal provisional squad
Szczesny, Koscielny, Djourou, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Walcott,
Eboue, Wilshere, Fabregas, Arshavin, Nasri, van Persie, Rosicky,
Almunia, Gibbs, Denilson, Chamakh, Bendtner
Wenger stated that disposing of the
Spanish champions - the second leg is in Barcelona on March 8 - will
offer a tantalising glimpse of Champions League glory.
'We want to win this competition and
we know the only way to do that is to beat the super-favourites,' he
said. 'Barcelona are certainly the best team in the world at the
moment. If we knock Barcelona out, we straight away have a good chance
to win the tournament.'
After being crushed over two legs
last season, it has been suggested Arsenal may have to change their
approach to contain the competition's favourites. But Wenger insists they can prevail with their high-tempo attacking game.
'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.'
All smiles: Xavi and Gerard Pique share a joke in the background as Barca boss Pep Guardiola kicks the ball
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