Gunners take on Barcelona

Gunners take on Barcelona

Injury-hit Arsenal may field Walcott; Inter favourites against CSKA

Gunners take on Barcelona

Arsenal's Gael Clichy (left) and Theo Walcott during their training session in London on Monday. AP

Injuries and suspensions have forced Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola into changes and their ability to adapt will be tested to the full, with the European champions holding the edge having drawn 2-2 in last Wednesday's first leg.

Arsenal are without captain Cesc Fabregas, who cracked a bone in his leg last week, while Barca have lost Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, scorer of both their goals in London, to a calf injury.

Guardiola turned to perennial substitute Bojan at home to Athletic Bilbao in La Liga on Saturday, when Ibrahimovic pulled out just before kickoff, and the 19-year-old scored twice in a 4-1 win.

With Thierry Henry still struggling to convince Guardiola of his commitment to the cause, not helped by a largely anonymous second-half appearance at the Emirates Stadium, Bojan could start up front.

Barca are without central defensive pairing Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, who are both suspended. In their absence, Gabriel Milito and midfielder Yaya Toure could be drafted in at the back.

Eric Abidal played his first game in over six weeks after injury on Saturday and should return at left back.

Barca visit La Liga title rivals Real Madrid on Saturday for a top-of-the-table clash, but Guardiola was clear where his priorities lay.

Wenger will be tempted to unleash Walcott, 21, from the start in the Nou Camp as the jet-heeled winger made a huge impact after coming on in the second half last week.
The Frenchman's attacking options are restricted with Andrei Arshavin and Fabregas both missing and Robin van Persie not yet ready to return and but he must decide whether Walcott is best used from the start or as an impact substitute.

Needing to win or achieve a high-scoring draw to go through, Arsenal will hope to capitalise on Barcelona's defensive absentees although Barca's firepower could signal a more cautious approach from Wenger.

Arsenal had one injury casualty on the weekend with Alex Song hurting his groin in the Premier League win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, ruling him out of Tuesday’s match.

Artificial pitch

Coach Jose Mourinho believes playing on an artificial pitch will be like child's play for his Inter Milan team as they look to knock out CSKA Moscow in the second leg.

The Serie A champions carry a 1-0 advantage from last week, when CSKA had keeper Igor Akinfeyev to thank for keeping their hopes alive with a series of fine saves.
"We know how we want to play there, aware of the difficulties regarding the opposition and the artificial pitch, which will be a first for everyone," Mourinho told the club's in-house TV channel.

CSKA's chances of overturning the deficit to become the first Russian side to reach the Champions League semifinals have not been helped by the absence of suspended midfielders Milos Krasic and Yevgeny Aldonin.

The visitors will be confident after dominating the first leg and warming up for the second with a 3-0 win over Bologna in Serie A on Saturday. They should be at full strength too.

Brazil centre back Lucio and his midfield compatriot Thiago Motta, who scored twice against Bologna, are available after serving suspensions last week.

Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder may well return to the starting lineup after resting on the bench for most of the Bologna match having taken an ankle knock in the first leg.
Mourinho's options also include 19-year-old Mario Balotelli, who scored on Saturday after spending a month on the sidelines following a row with the Portuguese manager.