Arsenal are coming off an unimpressive FA Cup draw against Hull City, while Barcelona saw off Las Palmas’ challenge in La Liga. Key players were rested by both sides in the weekend, and will be raring to go in the crucial first-leg of this much-anticipated Champions League Round of 16 tie.
Arsenal fielded a second-string side against Championship club Hull City in their weekend FA Cup fixture. Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker were the only first team regulars to feature in the match, which ended in a goalless stalemate. It was a wise move by manager Arsene Wenger, as the Gunners will need all of their big players to be energised and fit ahead of the big clash against defending champions Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.
Wenger will be fielding his strongest Arsenal XI: Petr Cech in goal behind the defensive quartet of Hector Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey in central midfield, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez looking to feed lone striker Olivier Giroud.
They can also count on their hero against Leicester City, Danny Welbeck, who will be hoping he can have a similar impact on his Champions League return.
Arsenal will be missing the services of defender Gabriel and midfielders Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere through injury. Although Gabriel is expected to make a swift return, the rest have been sidelined with long term injuries.
For Barcelona, Luis Enrique rested Gerard Pique and Ivan Rakitic for the game against Las Palmas, but will be recalling his veteran defender and the Croatian midfielder for the game at the Emirates Stadium. Midfield lynchpin Sergio Busquets will also return to the team after serving out a suspension in the weekend’s 2-1 win.
Their only major injury concern this season has been Brazilian midfielder Rafinha, who got injured in the Champions League group stage against AS Roma. However, the Blaugrana will also be missing the services of their new Turkish acquisition from Atletico Madrid. Arda Turan is serving a one-match ban and will not feature at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.