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‘Pep’s Barca the best team I’ve faced'

Arsène Wenger patrols the touchline at the Nou Camp

Arsene Wenger will go head to head with Pep Guardiola once again when we travel to the Etihad on Sunday to take on Manchester City.

The Arsenal manager faced the media on Friday and was asked about his counterpart and previous encounters against him.

This is what he had to say:

on the influx of high-profile managers…I think that the fight will be tighter and more difficult than ever and that we have an opportunity to prove that we can deal with the new competition. Of course, it stimulates everybody. We will see. It will be very open until the end I think.

on the 2-0 win at the Etihad two years ago…It was big for the confidence-side of the team because we were struggling a bit away from home in big games. To win this game was very important for the belief of the players.

on turning draws against big teams into wins…Of course [we need to] - Man City will tell you the same. It’s a big game. I think there will be fierce intensity as well because both teams are in a position where they will want to respond. But we must focus on what we want to do and have clarity in our heads on how we want to do it. And after that I think we have a good chance.

on whether intensity of the league has shocked Guardiola…I don't know you should ask him, he will be in a much better position to answer that. I am used to this intensity now for a long time, for me it looks natural.

on whether Guardiola’s Barca are the best team he has faced…Yes. I played a semi-final against Milan with Monaco in the Champions League - they were good as well. But with Arsenal we faced maybe Barcelona at its peak - at the time when Xavi was still young enough, Iniesta was coming up, Alves was still young. They were the best team I have played.

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on the intensity of Barcelona’s press…They were all hungry, young. Messi was 20, 21, 22. They were all coming up with a huge hunger and desire. It was natural for them. Let's not forget they had some team there. They had Eto'o and Henry and Ibrahimovic and Messi. Imagine what that was. Ibrahimovic still scores goals today.

on Alexis…He is comparable to Suarez a bit in style. From players I had, no. Thierry Henry was a real athlete, naturally you saw this guy was a strong man. Alexis surprises you a little bit because of his size - you do not expect such a dynamic, strong winning attitude. It's his game.

on whether he is a leader…He is a leader in his way on the football pitch because he is not scared of anybody. That's a kind of leadership.

 

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