Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says it is harder for him to prepare his team to face Hull City than European champions Barcelona. The Gunners copybook was blotted on 20 February as they ended a 14-match winning streak in the FA Cup with a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to second tier Hull.
Speaking on 22 February ahead of his side's Champions League last 16 first-leg tie against Barcelona at the Emirates, the manager said his players need no added motivation as they prepare to face a side unbeaten in 32 games.
"Of course the difficulty of the task is completely different. It's more difficult to prepare against Hull than against Barcelona, because against Barcelona everybody's focuses naturally so it's more to create belief and confidence, because Barcelona is super favourite in this game. Against Hull it's more to raise the urgency level and convince everybody that it's a very difficult game," the Frenchman said.
"Tomorrow, everybody is convinced that we have to be absolutely, as a whole squad, totally focused to have a chance. And that's what I try to raise, belief, confidence, and let's go for it."
The onus will be on Arsenal to get a good home leg result against opponents they have only beaten once in seven Champions League meetings. To do so, they will have to shackle striker Luis Suarez who has scored 41 times in all competitions, while rediscovering their cutting edge.
"We have a good opportunity to show that we have learned, because it's true that we gave ourselves a difficult task every time after the first home leg. Maybe because we are a bit too keen to make the difference in the first leg and therefore we have to find the right balance between being audacious, because that's what you will need to be against Barcelona, but as well as Olivier just said, strong defensively as a unit, and not put ourselves in front of a very difficult task in the second leg," said Wenger.
Wenger admitted Barcelona were nearly the "perfect" team and stressed his players must use what possession they do have well. He said: "Our world is not perfect and no team is perfect, they are not far from it Barcelona I must say, but we have to use every moment in the game where we have a chance to score, and as I said to you after the game against Hull we had 70% of the ball and didn't make a lot of it, against Barcelona we'll have much less of the ball and we'll have to make more of it."
Arsenal rotated their squad for the clash with Hull, leaving out Mesut Ozil who was suffering with an illness and restricting former Barca forward Alexis Sanchez to a late cameo. Ozil will return, as will Aaron Ramsey, and Arsenal will need their big guns in form as their only victory against Barcelona came in 2011 when goals from Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin gave them a 2-1 victory in the first leg of their last-16 tie.