Arsenal's Gabriel Paulista out of Barcelona clash but Ozil, Cech return
LONDON -- Gabriel Paulista will miss Arsenal's Champions League round-of-16 first leg against Barcelona on Tuesday, Arsene Wenger has confirmed.
Gabriel, 25, sustained a hamstring injury prior to the Gunners' Premier League game against Leicester on Feb. 14 and went back to Brazil last week to receive treatment at his former club Vitoria before returning to London.
The centre-back trained separately from the rest of the Arsenal squad on Monday together with club captain Mikel Arteta, who Wenger revealed is also out of contention for the Barca game.
"Gabriel is out, Arteta as well," Wenger, who also has Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky out injured, told a news conference. "Everybody else is available."
Wenger will welcome back Mesut Ozil, Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey to his matchday squad on Tuesday after the trio were rested for the 0-0 FA Cup fifth-round draw with Hull on Saturday.
Gabriel's absence means Per Mertesacker is expected to partner Laurent Koscielny at centre-back, despite concerns about the German's pace going up against Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.
But Wenger emphasised that the only way to stop Barca's attacking trio at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday is to play as a unit defensively.
"The only way we can do it is collectively, by being resilient and having great solidarity, and being intelligent as well," Wenger said. "Let's not forget that we have a good defensive record and we have a great goalkeeper [in Petr Cech] as well."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him @MattiasKaren.