Arsenal 'can't be stupid' against Barcelona in Champs Lge - Wenger
Arsene Wenger knows his side must avoid another irreparable first-leg loss at home in the Champions League on Tuesday, saying Arsenal "can't be stupid" against Barcelona.
Arsenal have lost badly in the first home leg in the round of 16 in each of the last three seasons, twice to Bayern Munich and last year to Monaco. That led to their elimination each time, despite 2-0 victories in the return legs at Bayern in 2013 and at Monaco in 2015.
And when Barcelona and their attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez come calling, Wenger knows there's no room for slow starts.
"Looking recently in these big games, in the first tie at home we can't be stupid," Wenger told British newspapers.
"Many times we've won away and at home we've conceded. We have to find a good balance between defending and attacking. Individually, all their players are difficult to stop. We have to find a way to do it collectively."
Wenger will likely rue the fact that Suarez is now playing for Barcelona instead of his team, with Arsenal having failed in a now-infamous £40m (plus £1) bid for the striker when he was at Liverpool.
And Wenger thinks the controversial Uruguay forward has added more than just goals to Barcelona's highly potent attack. The Arsenal manager praised Suarez for having a history of raising the team spirit at any club he plays.
"Suarez gives that to a team," Wenger said. "He did it at Liverpool, he did it playing for Uruguay with [Edinson] Cavani and [Diego] Forlan and did it well. Suarez is the kind of guy who manages to create that spirit in teams."
To give an example, Wenger pointed to the recent penalty where Messi passed the ball for Suarez to score instead of trying to net his own 300th league goal for Barcelona.
"Apart from the individual talent the three have, they have a great solidarity," Wenger said of Messi, Suarez and Neymar.
"When you see someone like Messi, who could score his 300th goal, give the ball to Suarez when he had the opportunity to score that means there's really something in there."
To counter that attacking threat, Arsenal will have to hope former Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez is back to his best for the Gunners.
Sanchez only has one goal since coming back from an injury layoff last month and lacked sharpness when coming on as a substitute Saturday in a 0-0 FA Cup draw against Hull.
"I don't think he was completely ready to come on [against Hull]," Wenger said.
"It looked like that but he grows with the game does Sanchez. He has a game based on risk and when he's completely highly tuned in, it becomes dangerous. Don't worry about Tuesday, he will be tuned in."