Arsenal face an almost impossible task at the Nou Camp as they take on Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie having lost 2-0 when the sides met three weeks ago.
Confirmation of their exit from Europe here will simply compound the struggles that the North London club are currently experiencing, with pressure beginning to mount on manager Arsene Wenger after they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Watford on Sunday. It is very saddening to see the Frenchman receive such criticism for a run of form which has seen them fade badly since the turn of the year, but for whatever reason a team of superb attacking talent has misfired badly in recent times and he is taking the flak.
A game such as this appears to be the last thing that Arsenal need as it is likely to be a matter of keeping the aggregate score as respectable as possible against the best club side around. But if they can avoid defeat on the night in may inspire some confidence ahead of the Premier League run-in, with the title not completely out of the question despite all the current negativity.
As for this tie, the damage looks to have already been done, with Wenger blaming naivety from his side as they conceded the opener on the break to Lionel Messi, before the same player won and converted a penalty to put clear daylight between the teams. Up until that point the Gunners had held their own and looked just as likely to score – the first goal came about as a result of their growing belief.
Barcelona have been unsurprisingly brilliant in establishing an eight-point lead at the top of La Liga following a succession of wins, the last three of which have seen them score no less than 15 goals. It is still all about the front three as Luis Suarez continues to fill his boots alongside Neymar and Ballon D’Or winner Messi. Arsenal will have to be compact, but in their attempts to chase the game they cannot leave themselves too open as they will undoubtedly succumb.
Danny Welbeck could come in for Arsenal as he aims to maintain the good form he has shown since returning from injury. David Ospina remains in goal, while Laurent Koscielny is still a doubt.