By Giuseppe Muro
Arsène Wenger believes Arsenal are in a stronger position to face Barcelona than they were last season.
The Gunners go into Wednesday’s Knockout Round first-leg seemingly at the peak of their powers and, in Robin van Persie, boast one of Europe’s in-form players. The Dutchman missed both ties against the Catalans last year but has been imperious of late with ten goals in seven Premier League games.
Arsenal are unbeaten in the top flight since December - a run stretching back nine games - and Wenger believes that his side have made a significant, and timely, improvement.
“Personally I believe we go into the Barcelona game in better shape than last year and Robin is part of that,” said the Arsenal manager.
“We had many uncertainties [last year], the team for me had less confidence. Now we have matured better and we can certainly compete technically better with them.
“In the first game last season, Robin was injured, Gallas went off at half time, Arshavin went off after 15 minutes while Song and Fabregas [didn’t play] in the second game. We are in a better shape this time.”
Much is said of Barcelona’s wonderful attacking options but Wenger is also wary of the threat posed when Pep Guardiola’s side do not have the ball.
“They are not just good at attacking, they also defend very well and for us it will be very important to get out of their pressure.
“If we can get out of that pressure then I think we can be dangerous so for us we have to think about what we do and how we do it.”Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 14 Feb 2011