Arsene Wenger is hopeful his team can keep a clean sheet against Barcelona tomorrow night, as the away goals rule in Europe has proved so costly in the past.
Despite the visitors possessing the most potent strike force in Europe right now, the Arsenal manager wants his side to try and shut them out, thus putting themselves in a good position for the second leg in three weeks time.
“We have always made it difficult for ourselves in previous years by conceding goals at home,” he said, “and the rules of the modern European Cup encourage teams to defend at home and attack away because of the importance of the away goal.
“Many times I have said that should be suppressed because if you concede a goal at home in the Champions League it’s a knife in your heart every time. Against big teams it becomes very difficult.”
In the last 7 games, Arsenal have scored just 6 times to Barcelona’s 23, but Wenger believes his players can find the net against Luis Enrique’s side.
“I think we will score so I am not too concerned,” he said. “It’s true that recently our goals have dried up a bit and we have to find a way to get that going again.
“But I am more concerned about stopping them from scoring because at home in the Champions League nil-nil is not a bad score.”
Yet his approach is such that he can’t simply tell his players to sit back and try to hold on for a draw.
“I cannot go into a game and think I will just play a zero-zero. I believe you cannot say you are a big club and you just want to defend. On the other hand, Barcelona is a very offensive team.
“So to give you no chance at all to score against them is guilty as well. You have to try to score against them because if they have a vulnerability like we have it is defensively like with any offensive team.”
Sit Giroud on Mascherano, get Cech to belt it long, knock-downs for Ramsey, 4-0 Arsenal, easy. I think that’s what he’s saying anyway.