Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola says he is unconcerned by the threat posed by Arsenal winger Theo Walcott.
Walcott was deemed responsible in some quarters for Arsenal’s stunning comeback in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final at the Emirates Stadium.
However, Guardiola does not believe that Walcott’s impact was significant to Arsenal’s comeback as they turned a two-goal deficit into a 2-2 draw.
“Let’s be clear, Walcott was not the determining factor, the determining factor was [Manuel] Almunia, who saved 12,000 balls,” Guardiola stated.
“Walcott is so speedy, he has strong legs, he played very well against us (on Wednesday) and also in the last league game [against Wolves].
“But we will try to keep the ball, that’s the best way to stop Arsenal and to stop Walcott as well.
“We are going to try to be ourselves, to keep the ball, to get the ball and play with great intensity. And I think Mr Wenger will want to do the same.
“The team that has the ball most will win the game. Let’s hope that’s us, we have to keep going – it is our biggest game of the season.”
Guardiola was also happy to back defender Maxwell, who was exposed by the 21-year-old Walcott after his introduction. However, Eric Abidal will be back in that position for the second leg after returning from injury in Saturday’s win over Athletic Bilbao.
“It may be really good for him to run 100 metres in a little over 10 seconds, but the aim is to get to the goal,” Abidal said. “We’ll wait there for him and we’ll see what he can do with the ball – let’s see if he can get past four defenders.”
Walcott, who is looking to finish what has been a disappointing season on a high, hopes to cause Barcelona problems in Spain.
“As an attacker you have to be on the front foot. Hopefully I can get at them and give them a problem,” he said.
“If I can create space for some of the others then that’s all part of my job.”