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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has banned his Spanish players from conducting interviews with media ahead of the Champions League last 16 tie with Barcelona following the poor form of the Gunners during January. The French boss is not happy with the recent performances of his side after having dropped to the fourth position of the Premier League, and wants the players to be completely focused in the coming matches.
The Gunners started the New Year on top of the Premier League table. However, their hopes to win the title have suffered a big blow during January after having failed to win any of their last four games, suffering a disappointed defeat against Chelsea at home while being held to draws by Liverpool, Stoke City and more recently Southampton, leaving them five points behind Leicester City.
Wenger is still confident he can turn around the situation in the last part of the season but wants his players to concentrate on the coming crucial run of fixtures that will see the Gunners taking Leicester City, Barcelona and Manchester United before the end of February.
Sport reports that he has prevented his Spanish players from conducting interviews ahead of the Champions League first leg with Barcelona on 23 February.
The Spanish publications claimed that the different Spanish publications – Sport, AS, Marca and Mundo Deportivo - have asked Arsenal to speak with players Hector Bellerin, Santi Cazorla, Nacho Monreal and Mikel Arteta to preview the game as it is usual in these kind of encounters. However, Arsenal have turned down their requests because "Wenger wants to avoid any distractions before the game."
IBTimes UK have contacted other Spanish reporters from different media who have confirmed Wenger's veto to his Spanish players, having even prohibited interviews that were scheduled some time ago.
AS, for instance, have scheduled a meeting with the four Arsenal Spanish players through their brand sponsorships ahead of the game with Barcelona. However, earlier this week they received a notification claiming that the Gunners have vetoed it because they don't want the Spanish players to speak with media from their homeland before match games.