English Premiership

Koscielny set for Gunners return

2016-03-16 09:01
Laurent Koscielny (Supplied)
Laurent Koscielny (Supplied)

Cape Town - Arsenal face an uphill battle as they seek to overturn a two-goal deficit against Barcelona in the Champions League Last-16 second leg on Wednesday.

The Gunners impressively held firm against a clearly stronger Barca outfit in the first leg at the Emirates last month, but two mistakes in the final 20 minutes of the match allowed Lionel Messi to grab a brace to put the Spanish champions in a comfortable position ahead of the return leg.

The two-goal cushion is especially significant because the Catalans scored them away from home, meaning Arsenal have will have to grab at least three unanswered goals to win the tie outright.

The good news for the English side is if they do somehow manage to score three times at the Nou Camp, a feat last achieved in a competitive match by Valencia in February 2014, Barcelona will need to score twice themselves to secure the win.

Arsenal's confidence will not be high going into the match, having won only one of their last seven matches in all competitions and off the back of getting knocked out of the FA Cup by Watford over the weekend, while Barcelona have won their last eight fixtures in a row and last tasted defeat in October 2015.

To make matters worse for the Gunners, they will be without Petr Cech (calf), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (knee), Jack Wilshere (shin), Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and Santi Carzola (Achilles), who are all only expected back next month, but Laurent Koscielny could return to the starting line-up after his recovery from a calf problem.

Barcelona will be without Gerard Pique, who picked up a one-match suspension in the first leg, but otherwise have a full squad to choose from.

 

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