Gunners have to attack Barca, says Paul Parker
Our analyst tells GARY LIM Barca trio can't be stopped but Arsenal can trouble their defence
ROUND OF 16, 1ST LEG
ARSENAL v BARCELONA
(Tomorrow, 3.45am, Singtel TV Ch 112 & StarHub TV Ch 212)
Arsenal brace themselves for what must be the most unenviable task of the Champions League campaign - taking on Barcelona.
The Catalan giants, propelled by the irresistible strikeforce of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, nicknamed MSN, have been unbeaten in all competitions for 32 matches.
To stand a chance, Arsene Wenger's men need a good result against the favourites in the first leg of their last-16 tie at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
It may not be all doom and gloom. The Gunners' best hope of taking down Barcelona is to attack them.
1 Can the MSN strikeforce be stopped?
PARKER: It will be near impossible for Arsenal's defence to stop them, simply because their defenders are simply not good enough.
Barcelona have individual talent and they pack pace, with or without the ball.
Arsenal centre back Per Mertesacker was slow, and is now even slower.
You have to take into account the craft, invention and improvisation of MSN that the Gunners' defence has to deal with.
We are talking about three of the top five forwards in the world, all in one team. It's close to impossible to stop all three.
2 If Messi, Suarez and Neymar can't be stopped, then what choice does Wenger have?
Arsenal have to attack Barcelona.
Javier Mascherano who marshals the Barcelona backline is not a natural defender, he's a central midfielder.
Arsenal have to attack them with the ball in the air, by whipping crosses into the box.
The problem for Arsenal is that when their attacks break down, Barcelona can swiftly launch their own down the other end.
So Arsenal must be very efficient in making sure that they get some kind of end product to every attacking move.
If you ask me, Wenger should start with two strikers in Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck.
There's no point in going into the first leg with an attitude of not wanting to be beaten at home.
3 What can Arsenal do to minimise the threat of MSN?
Neymar, playing on the left of the triumvirate, is probably the "weakest". He's more selfish, tends to overrun the ball, and sometimes tries to beat too many players and shoot from acute angles.
His decision-making is also not as good as the other two.
Arsenal defenders have to try to force him to the byeline, make him cross with his left foot and prevent him from cutting inside.
As for Messi, people talk about his great ability on the right side of the three-pronged attack, but he's also very unselfish. He will track back and create chances for his teammates.
At the rate Luis Suarez is performing and scoring goals (41 goals in 37 club appearances), he is Barca's No. 1 player this season.
He is very clinical in the central role and that's why he is Barcelona's topscorer.
Arsenal don't have a centre half who can deal with the tenacious Suarez, who is physically strong and wants to win every single battle.
The problem with trying to minimise the MSN damage is that Arsenal will end up having to play like Chelsea and hope to win the game 1-0.
But it is not in Wenger's blood to do that. And that's also why he's is a great manager.
4 Arsenal legend Thierry Henry said that Mesut Oezil will be the key player. Do you agree?
Oezil has been the most influential player for Arsenal in the Premier League but, when it comes to the big games in the Champions League, Alexis Sanchez is the most important.
The Chilean will want to prove a point against his former team. With his tenacious style, he's the sort of player who can make a big difference on European nights.
In every game, you have to win the battle before you can win the war and Sanchez is the player Wenger can count on.
5 Do the Gunners stand a chance then?
Of course, they do. They have beaten Barca at home before (2-1, in 2011 with a goal from Robin van Persie and the winner by Andrei Arshavin).
As long as they have something to bite on in the return leg, they will always have a chance.
A lead from the first leg will put Barcelona under pressure when they go back to the Nou Camp.
But I still think Barcelona are just too much to handle at the moment and I am going for a Barcelona win.
* Paul Parker is an ex-England and Man United defender who won two EPL titles and earned 19 caps for his country. He is now a football pundit with FOX Sports.
Tomorrow, everyone is convinced that we absolutely need to have, as a squad, total focus to have a chance and that is what I try to raise. Belief, confidence and let’s go for it. We will have the ball far less than normal, so we have to make more of it when we get chances.
— Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Henry: How Arsenal can stop Barcelona
DEFEND AS A UNIT
Arsenal have to accept they will probably only have 30 per cent possession and must be so efficient when they do get the ball. The whole team must defend more as a unit and the wingers must tuck in and play more in their own half.
BE BRAVE ON THE BALL
You very rarely get the chance to play against Barcelona so you must be prepared to sacrifice parts of your attacking game, home and away. Arsenal must be brave on the ball. They need to stay compact, play on the counter and score every time they get in their penalty area.
CONTROL THE MIDFIELD
They can't be exposed in the middle and must force Barcelona to run back 60 metres before they get the ball. If you allow them to stay in your half for wave after wave, it becomes almost impossible to defend..
Barca’s fearsome front three have amassed 213 goals between them since Luis Suarez joined the club in 2014. (Lionel Messi 27 goals, Suarez 41 and Neymar 23).