Guardiola wants 'great show'
Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has no complaints about Arsenal's late inclusion of Robin Van Persie.
Last Updated: 08/03/11 8:30am
Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has no complaints about Arsenal's late inclusion of Robin Van Persie because he wants a 'great show' in the UEFA Champions League.
Van Persie was thought to be facing at least one month on the sidelines after sustaining a knee injury when scoring his club's goal in their 2-1 defeat to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final.
But the Holland international has surprisingly travelled to Spain and is set for a fitness test on Tuesday morning before the evening's last 16 second leg at Camp Nou, where Arsenal will hold a slender 2-1 aggregate advantage.
Arsene Wenger's team are already without Alex Song, but Guardiola, who has his own defensive concerns, wishes that both teams were at full strength and joked that he would have no problem if injured England international Theo Walcott was involved.
"I would like Song to play; maybe there could be a private flight for Walcott to come in at the last minute - you never know," said Guardiola on Monday evening.
"I want all the great players to play, everyone against everyone and see a great show tomorrow.
"I hope they are all in the team - Van Persie, [Samir] Nasri, Cesc, because I would like to play the best possible Arsenal."
The Barcelona boss, who himself has been suffering from a back complaint which needed hospital treatment, continued: "If Van Persie plays, then no problem. It is good for the team and good for everyone. If he cannot, then Arsenal have a squad with players at a great level.
"Arsenal have many alternatives, are very dynamic and can play in different positions, their counter-attack is great. We will try to prevent that.
"This is always a special game in the Champions League and it is a magnificent challenge."
Guardiola, who won the European Cup in his first season in charge two years ago, also rejected suggestions that Arsenal do not have the spirit of true champions.
"I keep hearing about the fragility in the minds of the Arsenal players, but I do not agree," he said.
"They are competing with Manchester United for the Premier League, reached the final of the Carling Cup and a few seasons ago were in the final of the Champions League.
"Arsenal are always in the top, when you compete every season at the top, it is because they are quality."
One Arsenal youngster tipped for a big future is midfielder Jack Wilshere and the 19-year-old has impressed Guardiola.
"Wilshere is a top player. He has been a big surprise. I did not know him at the beginning of the season," said the Barcelona manager.
"He is an excellent player, not just Arsenal, but also for the national team.
"We have many players like him in our second team. It is very good news for football to have players like him."