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Feb 13, 2011

Bendtner ready to match Barca

Nicklas Bendtner believes Arsenal are capable of matching Barcelona "for pure football skill" and insists there will be no repeat of last season's capitulation at the Camp Nou.

Sporting Gijon 1-1 Barcelona
Arsenal 2-0 Wolves
Puyol missing for Barcelona
Vermaelen back in three weeks
Rexach doubts Cesc deal

Barca go to Emirates Stadium on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League tie having seen their run of 16 consecutive La Liga victories brought to an end after drawing 1-1 with Sporting Gijon on Saturday.

Sporting adopted a defensive approach to frustrate Barca and Pep Guardiola said after the game that their tactics had made life difficult.

"I think Sporting played perfectly," Guardiola said. "We didn't win but we did all we could to do so. It is not easy to attack against ten defenders."

Arsenal have never shown an inclination to dramatically alter their style of play but, although the Gunners were defeated 6-3 on aggregate when the teams met in the competition last year, Bendtner believes they can succeed this time around while playing their own game.

"I would like to think that we are one of the few teams that can match Barcelona for pure football skill," he said in the Sunday Mirror. "I like to believe that we have great players as well, and that we have a similar style to Barcelona.

"We like to pass the ball like them - and for that reason we have a chance. I certainly think we have at least two or three players who would get into the Barcelona side.

"This time, I promise it will be a different game than last season. We have shown character to come back from behind many times and also to bounce back from disappointments."

He added: "It's going to be massive against Barcelona, but it will help us that we played them last year - it always helps when you have some experience.

"We more or less have a full squad and we didn't have that last time. I am sure we will be better prepared.

"They are a magnificent team, absolutely unbelievable, and they are on a great run of course, but we have to fancy our chances as well because we can beat anyone on our day. We have shown that."

Bendtner said he has huge admiration for the way Barca approach the game and feels focusing solely on Lionel Messi would be a mistake.

"I don't watch that much football to be honest because I prefer to play than watch but when I do turn on the TV it is usually to watch Barca because they play such good football," he said. "They are an absolute joy to watch and you can always learn from them.

"When you watch Barca you have to give them credit because the way they play is a pure joy all of the time. When you look at their team they are about much more than just Lionel Messi.

"He is the best player in the world and seems to score in every game - no-one else can really match him - but they have so many great players.

"When you go through their team there isn't a single player who isn't world class, so we know how tough the two games against them are going to be."

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has revealed he has not given up hope of Samir Nasri featuring against Barca. Asked about his chances following a hamstring injury, Wenger said: "I would not rule him out."

With Nasri still doubtful, Jack Wilshere appears set to start the game, but Wenger has warned not to expect a world-beating performance from the 19-year-old.

"You wouldn't want to put too much responsibility on Wilshere," Wenger said. "You need all 11 to be on top form against what is the best team in the world. It is important that we play with belief.

"Last year, we showed them too much respect in the first half and we were lucky to get away with it. We are not favourites to win - but I think we can do it."

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