CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PREVIEW: Arsenal versus Barcelona -- Will Samir Nasri Play?
After ruling out a return as early as Monday, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has done a 180 and now says star midfielder Samir Nasri will likely play on Wednesday.
He's recovered quicker than expected. I said it would be 21 days but it will be only 17 days. Everybody's absolutely adamant that he's completely medically available. It's down to me to make the decision, Wenger said on Tuesday.
But with or without Nasri, Arsenal has an uphill battle against Barcelona, a club that is riding an incredible hot streak. Even Wenger declared Barcelona the best team in the world.
Wenger can use all the help he can get. Defender Bacary Sagna is suspended for the match. Midfielder Abou Diaby won't be available due to a calf injury he suffered while playing for France against Brazil last week.
Meanwhile, World Cup standout and Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta insists his side is not taking Arsenal lightly.
We are not a machine, said Iniesta. It won't be easy. This isn't a walk along the promenade for us.
The Catalans are led by Argentine superstar Lionel Messi who pounded Arsenal for four goals when the two teams faced off at the Camp Nou in last year's Champions League Quarter-finals second leg.
Barcelona leads the all-time series with Arsenal 3-0-2.
PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR ARSENAL:
Nasri: How will the star midfielder perform under the pressure of creating goal-scoring chances, while perhaps not performing at 100 percent? Wenger needs him to maintain ball possession to not allow Barcelona to exhaust the Arsenal squad by their remarkable passing skills.
JACK WILSHERE: The young midfielder needs to keep his poise but still be physical against the Catalans. He can be the reason Barcelona's midfield has trouble allowing Messi and David Villa to get touches.
PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR BARCELONA
MAXWELL: The left back needs to step up with Carlos Puyol sidelined. His marking of Theo Walcott may be the key for Barcelona to keep Arsenal off the scoring sheet.
DAVID VILLA: In big matches involving Messi, opposing defenses have a tendency to over-defend the star striker, which creates opportunities for his forward partner. In this case, Villa may have plenty of chances to score for Barcelona, with an Arsenal defense eager to neutralize Messi.
WHO: Arsenal and Barcelona
WHERE: The Emirates Stadium in London
WHEN: 2:45 EST on FOX Soccer Channel
WHY: Winner of first and second leg advances to the Quarter-finals