Arsenal's Spanish players banned from speaking to media by Arsene Wenger
The 66-year-old wants his players to focus as they face Barcelona for the third time in six years.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has refused to allow his Spanish players from giving interviews to Spanish press ahead of the Barcelona clash. The Gunners currently sit fourth in the table after losing further ground in the title race after a string of poor results.
Wenger is said to have imposed the restriction on his players to ‘avoid distractions’ before their game against the Catalan club. The 66-year-old wants his players to have complete focus on the task at hand and doesn’t want interviews affecting their mindset for the crucial two-legged fixture.
Several Spanish outlets have recently bombarded the club with interview requests specifically for their Spanish contingent. But the four Spaniards at Arsenal namely Santi Cazorla, Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal and Mikel Arteta will not be available for comment due to Wenger’s restrictions.
Arsenal have failed to win any of their last four matches drawing three and losing one. They have also failed to find the back of the net in their last three outings, equalling their previous record back in 2009.
These string of results have upset the French manager and has led him to take action. Wenger was highly critical of his team’s performance against Southampton in the 0-0 draw as has side failed to convert any of the 10 chances they had on target.
Will Arsenal be third time lucky?
Arsenal have faced Barcelona at this stage of the competition twice before in 2010 and in 2011. In their first encounter, they managed a 2-2 draw at home but were battered 4-1 in the away leg. Messi was at his magical best in that game scoring all four goals.
The Gunners gave themselves a chance to progress the following season after winning their home tie 2-1. But once again they were thwarted by Messi as he scored twice against ten-man Arsenal to knock them out of the competition.
Last week Spanish outlet Sport claimed that Arsenal scout Stewart Houston was at the Nou camp to watch Barcelona play Atletico Madrid. The outlet called him a “specialist in monitoring and reporting on rivals”. Arsenal will need as much information as they can possibly gather in an effort to reach the quarter-final stage of the competition for the first time since 2009.
It is still unclear whether non-Spanish players will be allowed to take part in interviews but Wenger is definitely doing what he feels is necessary to ensure Arsenal are well prepared for the visit of the reigning European Champions.
The first leg of the round of 16 tie is set to take place at the Emirates on the 24th of February.