Arsenal star Santi Cazorla hopes to make his return from injury in the Champions League second leg last 16 game with Barcelona on 16 March. The Spanish playmaker has told his teammates to get a positive result in the home tie with the La Liga giants tonight (23 February) in order to give the side a real chance of making the last 8.
The 31-year-old midfielder underwent surgery early in December after suffering a rupture to his external knee ligament during the 1-1 draw with Norwich City on 29 November. The former Malaga and Villarreal player has not seen any pitch action since, but hopes to be available for the return clash against Barca next month.
"I am eager to return. It is a pain to be on the sidelines and not have the chance to help your team, especially when there is a game like the one against Barcelona that everyone wants to play in. Hopefully I can shorten [the recovery process]," he said to Onda Cero.
"[Playing in the second leg against Barcelona] is the goal that I have. The knee is fine, I am working better every day. The aim is to set to return ([against Barcelona] but I'm not obsessed myself. I have to go day by day."
Cazorla is aware of the difficulty of the task but hopes his side can secure a positive result at the Emirates Stadium and travel to the Nou Camp with confidence that they can make the quarter-final.
"I want to go to Barcelona with the possibility of winning the tie. I do not want what happened in recent years, when Bayern Munich and Monaco effectively knocked us out in the first leg. I want to go to the Camp Nou with intact chances to go through," he added.
"A team like Arsenal always wants to go further in the Champions League. In recent years we have been knocked out too early. It is obvious that we face the best team left in. They are the clear favourites to go through because Barcelona are the favourites whoever they face. The team is optimistic but we have to be realistic and know that we will face a great team."