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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Puyol likely to miss Arsenal tie

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has confirmed that defender Carles Puyol is almost certain to miss Wednesday's Champions League tie against Arsenal due to injury.

• Xavi: Cesc destined for Barca

Puyol has not appeared for Barca since a 3-0 win over Racing Santander on January 22 as he has been struggling with a knee injury.

Though he has taken part in light training, the defender is some way short of match fitness and Guardiola told a press conference on Friday that Puyol's chances of featuring at Emirates Stadium are "really complicated".

"That's the feeling I have [that Puyol will miss the game]," Guardiola said. "But things could change and he could also go. It's going well but when we ask for a little more, it becomes a problem."

Puyol will not play in Saturday's league fixture against Sporting Gijon and must be considered extremely doubtful to take part in Wednesday's Champions League second round, first leg tie.

If the World Cup winner is absent, then Guardiola is likely to use Eric Abidal in a central position, as he has done in recent La Liga games. That would mean Maxwell retaining his place at left back.

Meanwhile, despite agreeing a new contract this week, Guardilola has stuck to his policy of failing to give cast-iron guarantees about his long-term future at Barca.

"I can see myself here for one more year ... then, we'll see," he said. "What I want to do is get the best out of this team. Having reached the Copa del Rey final and doing so well in La Liga has shown me that there is no reason not to stay here for another year."

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