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We would not fear Barcelona - Arsene Wenger

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Wenger unsure how far Arsenal can go

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he was not concerned by the prospect of possibly facing Barcelona in the next round of the Champions League.

The Gunners may also face Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Schalke in the last 16 after finishing second in Group H.

"Barcelona is a super favourite in this competition at the moment but we take what we get," said the Frenchman after a 3-1 win over Partizan Belgrade.

"If it's Barcelona, it is Barcelona. We played them last year. We will see."

Last season, Barcelona knocked Arsenal out of the competition at the quarter-final stage, and although the 2009 Champions League winners are seen as the team to avoid, Wenger knows his side will have to be in good shape whichever team they face.

"Last year we went out against Barcelona," said Wenger. "I felt we had some room to do better because we drew 2-2 at home and over there we led 1-0 but lost 4-1.

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"It [winning] depends whether you will have your best players available and a good level of confidence.

"It's very difficult to predict how far you can go but now in the last 16 it becomes a cup competition. You go into cup mode and that means for 180 minutes you have to be at your top."

The draw for the Champions League knockout stages will take place on Friday 17 December and Wenger added: "We have a 50% chance to travel to Spain and 50% chance to go to Germany.

"If you ask me where we would like to go, I don't know. For the media they would maybe prefer Spain, but for us not necessarily."

The victory over Partizan confirmed Arsenal's place in the last 16 for the 11th successive season, but the Gunners were not at their best and endured some nervous moments before two goals in the last 20 minutes secured their passage.

They took the lead through a Robin van Persie penalty and, after conceding an equaliser when Cleo's shot was deflected past keeper Lukasz Fabianski, it took goals from Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri to ease their anxiety.

Wenger is aware his players will have to improve on that performance but, based on their position in all competitions this season, he has faith that they will.

"Overall, we are in a strong position in the league, have qualified for the next stage of the Champions League, are in the semi-final of the League Cup and start the FA Cup in January," he said.

"We have plenty of exciting challenges in front of us but there is room for improvement and I'm confident we will."

Arsenal's progression was tempered by left-back Kieran Gibbs being forced off with an ankle injury after 23 minutes against the Serbian side and a scan on Thursday will determine the extent of the damage.

"He has a twisted ankle, an ankle sprain," said Wenger. "I don't know how damaged his ankle is - he will have a scan on Thursday. He is unbelievably unlucky."

Arsenal will be without Bacary Sagna for the first game of their last-16 tie in February after the right-back was sent off towards the end of the game at the Emirates.



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see also
Arsenal 3-1 Partizan Belgrade
08 Dec 10 |  Europe
Wenger unsure how far Arsenal can go
08 Dec 10 |  Arsenal
Wednesday football as it happened
08 Dec 10 |  Football
Wednesday's football photos
08 Dec 10 |  Football


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