Arsene Wenger was a picture of frustration following Arsenal's 2-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat to Barcelona on 23 February, describing his team as "technically very average" on the night. He also lamented their naivety in allowing the otherwise under-par La Liga leaders, who are now unbeaten in 33 matches across all competitions, to exploit them on the counter-attack in scenes that bore a resemblance to Monaco's victory in north London last season.

The Gunners were defensively and tactically resolute for much of the game, restricting the time and space available to Luis Enrique's formidable attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. They should have gone ahead during the first half, only for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to fire straight at goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen from close range.

Such resilience was finally broken 20 minutes from time, when that aforementioned triumvirate pounced with trademark speed and precision to take the lead after Arsenal had gone forward in search of the opener. Their misery was compounded when Mathieu Flamini allowed Messi to double his tally from the spot with a foul that came less than a minute after the Frenchman had replaced Francis Coquelin and Wenger did not hide his irritation after the full-time whistle.

Speaking to BT Sport, he said: "Barcelona is a great team. We knew that before the game. We put a lot of energy in the game. I believe technically we were very average overall but the regret I have is that once we looked like we would dominate the game in the last 15, 20 minutes we give the goal away. Similar to Monaco. Naive. And what is frustrating was when we looked like we could win this game but just gave it away.

"In the last 20 minutes I felt that there was room to score. We had chances but we didn't score. In the first half we had a great chance. Just before we concede the goal we had two good chances. We knew before the game, one thing we could not afford is to give them counter-attacks because they are very dangerous and it's exactly what we did."

That defeat leaves Arsenal with a mountain to climb ahead of their trip to Catalonia on 16 March. The 2006 finalists have conceded a combined total of seven goals during their previous two visits to the Nou Camp and Wenger is well aware of the challenge that awaits if they are to upset the odds and reach the last eight for the first time in six years.

"Very difficult. But we have to try to give our best knowing that it's 95 for them and five for us," he added. "But still we have to have a go and we want to show that we can beat them and you never know."