Samir Nasri believes his side are good enough to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League, suggesting that his side have the physical edge because they are stronger than they were when the sides met last season, Goal.com has revealed.
Arsenal travel to the Camp Nou next week with a 2-1 lead over the Catalan side on aggregate and the Gunners midfielder says the Blaugrana were better than Arsenal last season but since then the north London side have bulked up a lot.
Nasri told reporters at the Adidas launch of the Champions League matchball: “Barcelona seemed much better last year, but we’ve become more macho, both physically and psychologically.”
He continued: “Some of the players are much better this year than before – Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, myself, we’ve all stepped up and become stronger and more macho. Players have stepped up and driven the team forward. We can compete with everyone now.
“We approached the game differently this time because last year we were a little bit scared of Barcelona.
“It was the first time we had played against a team like that. They were fantastic and played amazing football. We were really surprised at how good they were.”
Ramsey to start.
Aaron Ramsay could be set to make his return to the Arsenal first-team against Sunderland this weekend.
The 21-year-old has not featured for the Gunners since breaking his leg against Stoke last season but Arsene Wenger insists the Welshman could be in the squad to face the Black Cats on Saturday.
Wenger told Arsenal TV Online: “There is a chance Aaron could be available in the squad for Saturday.
“It will be very good to have him back. He is getting better and better now. We know he has a great engine, has great passing ability and can score goals as well.”
The Gunners boss confirmed that Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas will not be available for selection but said there is a chance Laurent Koscielny could return to action this weekend: “There is a meagre chance we could have Koscielny back for Sunderland. But he is the only one we can hope to have available.
“However, Alex Song is out on Saturday and he is doubtful for Barcelona. At the moment he has not practiced at all. He has this knee problem that gets better everyday. But we’ll assess it on Monday.
“As for Cesc, we go day-by-day. We assessed him today and he is positive about his injury. We feel he has a chance. I do not want to disappoint people so I say he has ‘a chance’, I strongly believe that.”
Bendtner can become key.
Nicklas Bendtner believes he can continue his improvement and become a key player for Arsenal if he is given a chance to prove himself.
The Dane scored a hat-trick against Leyton Orient to help secure his side’s place in the FA Cup quarter-final and the 23-year-old is happy with his improvement and is confident that he would flourish if he was deployed as a central striker.
Bendtner told The Telegraph: “I am roaring to go out and prove my worth, I have been on a steadily improving curve the past few weeks where I have been getting minutes. All it takes is match practice, preferably in my favourite position to add the final touch. I play where the manager wants me to. But I will not deny that I perceive myself as a central striker. That is my preferred position and where I feel I am best. I believe now I am getting back to where I belong.”