Arsenal

Arsene Wenger Reportedly Blocks Players from Media Duties Before Barcelona Game

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02:  Arsene Wenger Manager of Arsenal gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on February 2, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2016

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has reportedly banned his Spanish contingent from doing any interviews ahead of their meeting with La Liga giants Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.  

According to Tomas Andreu of Sport, the French manager is unhappy with the Gunners' recent results and wants his players fully focused on improving performances, and thus, he has barred the likes of Santi Cazorla, Hector Bellerin and Mikel Arteta from speaking to the Spanish press.

Arsenal meet Barca for the first leg of their tie at the Emirates on Feb. 23 following upcoming Premier League games against Bournemouth and Leicester City and an FA Cup clash with Hull City.

Wenger's side have dropped from league leaders to fourth in the English top flight recently after draws with Southampton, Liverpool and Stoke City and a defeat to Chelsea.

Andreu noted that Wenger's newly tightened media policy is "to avoid any distractions before the game," with many outlets having requested access ahead of the Barca clash.

Arsenal have been knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage in each of the previous five seasons, hardly a good return for a club that purports to be one of the best in Europe.

In back-to-back tournaments in 2010 and 2011, the north London outfit were knocked out by Barca, a fate that many believe will befall them again in the coming weeks, per 90min:

The respective form of the two sides has done little to allay such fears.

While the Gunners have started to struggle, Barca have continued to devastate opponents, winning their last nine matches in all competitions.

On Wednesday, they took Gary Neville's Valencia to pieces in the Copa del Rey, with Luis Suarez scoring four goals and Lionel Messi putting up a hat-trick in a 7-0 drubbing.

If Arsenal are going to have any chance of knocking the Blaugrana out of the Champions League, they need to re-find some form in the next three matches.

If they go into their first leg against the European champions with the form they are currently in, they will likely be turned over, a situation Wenger is clearly looking to avoid, hence his latest media tactic. 

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