Arsene Wenger hoping 'complex' stops Leo Messi against Arsenal

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As Arsenal prepare to take on the best club in world football on Tuesday, Arsene Wenger is clutching at anything he can to give his team a mental edge.

Barcelona have arrived in north London ahead of their round of 16 tie against the Gunners and Leo Messi was busy training on the Emirates Stadium pitch ahead of the game on Monday evening.

It will be the 12th time the Ballon d'Or holder has graced English soil. In his previous 11 games, Barcelona have won seven times in which the Argentine has netted a paltry two goals. Given his return in Spain – 301 goals in 334 La Liga matches – it is a puzzling anomaly on an otherwise unworldly CV.

But it is not his unimpressive record in England that has Wenger hoping for a rare off night from Messi, but his even more peculiar record against Arsenal's very own Petr Cech.

The 28-year-old has failed to beat Cech in eight attempts. The former Chelsea goalkeeper spoke of his pride of such a record earlier in the season and will no doubt be hoping to extend it to ten games over the course of two legs.


Wenger, also, is hoping Cech maintains what surely must be a unique record against Messi. In fact, the Frenchman believes the psychology of such a failure may, in fact, hold the Barcelona star back from playing his best football.

"I've seen many strikers in my life but I've never seen a record like that," he said of Messi's La Liga record. "I hope that [Messi's failures against Cech] will give Petr Cech confidence.

"We played a final against Barcelona in 2006 and that's where he started to have a reputation. It's remarkable what he has achieved. But I hope he has a little complex tomorrow and that history plays against him.

"I know they have exceptional talent but the only way to stop them is collectively. Let's not forget we have a good defensive record and a great goalkeeper as well."

Incredible MSN

Great goalkeeper or not, the fact is that even if Messi decides not to show up on Tuesday, he will be able to call on Neymar and Luis Suarez to pick up the slack. Both have proved equally capable of scoring this season, grabbing 64 goals between them in all competitions, which is more than Arsenal (61) have scored as a team.

Suarez has taken the lion's share of those goals, grabbing 41 in all competitions while Neymar has 23. Messi, who, of course, spent two months out with a knee injury, has still managed to score 27 times.

As we said, clutch at straws, Mr Wenger. Clutch at everything you can.

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