Swift return shocks Nasri
Samir Nasri has admitted he is surprised and delighted to be in contention for the clash with Barcelona.
By Patrick Haond
Last Updated: 16/02/11 7:40pm
Samir Nasri has admitted he is surprised and delighted to be in contention for Arsenal's UEFA Champions League clash with Barcelona.
Nasri had appeared set to lose his fitness race after injuring his hamstring against Huddersfield on 30th January and being given an estimated recovery time of three to four weeks.
However, he returned to training ahead of schedule and is set to feature at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening, perhaps even from the start.
"I was the first to be surprised to be back so quickly after my thigh injury," the French midfielder told L'Equipe.
"After the first examinations, the absence forecasted was three or four weeks, but I started to have faith last week on Monday when I resumed jogging.
"Clinically, I am cured. If there was a single risk, I would not take it, even against Barcelona.
"I am capable to be in the starting XI. Then, it is up to the coach."
Arsenal went down 6-3 on aggregate when they met Barca in the Champions League quarter-finals last season, with Lionel Messi inspiring a 4-1 rout at Camp Nou in the second leg.
The first leg had ended 2-2 despite a sensational first-half display from the Spaniards, and Nasri insists Barca will not have it all their own way this time.
He said: "Last season, in the first leg, we got a lesson. It was a miracle to get to half-time at 0-0.
"That day, they reached a level of excellence I have never seen as a professional. You run, you run, but you can never catch the ball.
"We respected them too much. You can't let those artists play at their own pace.
"We will have to make them run, because they are not used to it. We have to defend better and be strong in the centre, because that is where they can make the difference."
Jack Wilshere has called on Arsenal to 'get nasty' in a bid to disrupt Barca's passing rhythm and Nasri is confident his side can spring a surprise against the tournament favourites.
"Wilshere's words? We all want to be a little nasty with them, but the problem is they are very difficult to catch," said Nasri.
"We will show aggression. It is something new this season for us. It will not be the naive Arsenal of previous seasons. This year, it is different.
"Why am I optimistic? During the last few seasons, we have often been harmed by injuries, but not this year.
"Except Abou Diaby and (Thomas) Vermaelen, there is no key player missing.
"Moreover, I saw the last Barcelona match against Gijon (1-1). That showed they are human."
Nasri is wary of the threat posed by Barca's attacking players but feels Arsenal can frustrate them, even Messi.
"Messi is achieving miracles. He is a prodigy! Last year, if we were eliminated it was due to Messi," said Nasri.
"But I am not scared by him. We must not get only focused on him. Barca is above all a collective: Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Pedro... It is useless to have a plan against Messi."