Arsene Wenger has outlined his tactical approach for Tuesday's highly-anticipated Champions League tie at Barcelona, insisting Arsenal are not set up to defend in numbers at the Nou Camp.
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Arsenal carry a 2-1 advantage into the second leg on the last-16 clash after their come-from-behind win at the Emirates last month. Much of the pre-match discussion has centred on whether Arsenal will seek to simply protect their lead or try to extend it.
Last season, eventual champions Inter beat Barcelona 3-1 at home then parked the proverbial bus at the Nou Camp and progressed to the final by restricting the then holders to a 1-0 victory. Arsenal will certainly need to be more solid than they were in the quarter-finals last year when they were defeated 4-1 in Spain to lose 6-3 on aggregate.
Wenger, though, hinted Arsenal would not follow Inter's blueprint because his team is incapable of reproducing the Jose-Mourinho-masterminded defensive masterclass due to their wealth of attacking talent. Wenger is mindful of the fact Arsenal do not have the extra goal buffer that Inter had and that a 1-0 loss would see the Gunners eliminated on away goals. The manager said he would take a goalless draw but is not expecting the match to play out that way, so he will send out his men to attack.
"It is a little bit of an illusion to go to Barcelona and think they will not score at all," Wenger said. "So you have to think we want to score at least a goal. Is it realistic to go there to try to play a 0-0 from the first minute on? First of all it would be considerably against our nature and even tactically I don't think it is defendable. We have not a team with 11 defenders who are happy to defend."
Wenger believes a clean sheet is most likely unattainable on Tuesday night but he insisted he has total faith in his defence, pointing to their recent record in the Premier League as a sign of Arsenal's increased tightness at the back.
"We have to fight against the preconceived ideas because the only way of thinking is that Arsenal cannot defend," said Wenger. "I will just remind you that in the last 11 games we have seven clean sheets in the Premier League, we have conceded less goals than Man United, who have a very good defence. We can defend when we have to but we prefer to attack that is for sure."