Preview: Arsenal vs. Barcelona – Mesut Ozil holds the key

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Mesut Ozil Arsenal v West Brom
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Arsenal take on reigning Champions League title holders Barcelona in Last 16 first-leg tie at the Emirates stadium today.

No team has ever won the competitions back-to-back but if any side were to break the mould it would probably be this Barcelona side.

Barca are unbeaten in their last 32 games and have won all 11 games Arda Turan has featured in since making his debut for the club last month against Espanyol. The one game Turan did not feature in – the 1-1 draw against Valencia – ended in a draw.

The bearded winger will miss the game due to being suspended but Arsenal will still have to deal with MSN – Messi, Neymar, Suarez – who have scored 91 goals and a further 43 assists. The entire Arsenal team meanwhile have managed 61 goals between them.

Arsenal do however, have a few weapons of their own most notable Mesut Ozil who has been in fantastic form. The World Cup winner has 17 assists in the league this season and would have had a whole lot more had it not been for his teammates profligacy.

Ozil has the tools to unlock just about any defence and has created an astonishing 261 goal scoring chances already this season. Arsenal legend Thierry Henry believes that he holds the key to the north London based club getting a result. He also warns that the Gunners will be in serious trouble if Barcelona shut Ozil down.

Ozil, Olivier Giroud and Joel Campbell will have to be extra careful as they are one booking away from missing the return leg.

The Gunners will be without Santi Cazorla (knee), Jack Wilshere (leg), Gabriel Paulista (hamstring) and Tomas Rosicky (thigh).

Barca have won both of the previous two-legged knockout ties against the Gunners however, the Spanish giants having lost 14 of their last 30 meetings away to Premier League opposition. The last seven games between the two teams have results in an average close to four per-game.

 

Prediction: Over 2.5 goals

Arsenal v Barcelona

Kick-off: 19:45
Stadium: Emirates Stadium

Arsenal probable starting line up: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Walcott, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud

Barcelona probable starting line up: Ter Stegen; Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

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