Gunners look to erase pain of previous Barcelona defeat

Theo Walcott rates Barcelona’s visit to Arsenal on Wednesday night as the biggest game of the season.

The England winger was part of the Gunners side who were dumped out of the Champions League by the Spanish club last season and is desperate to return the favour.

Walcott made a big impact when the sides met in the quarter-final first leg at the Emirates last year, scoring within two minutes of coming on as a second-half substitute.

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Having gone 2-0 behind and been outclassed in the first half, Walcott’s goal revitalised Arsenal, who went on to draw the game through Cesc Fabregas’s penalty.

A 4-1 defeat at the Nou Camp ended their hopes of progressing but Walcott thinks Arsene Wenger’s side are much improved this time around.

“We’re looking forward to it, it’s going to be a great, great battle,” he said.

“It’s one of the games you want to play in and hopefully the result can be different from last year.

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“I believe we can do much better than last season; we can’t do worse to be honest,” he said.

“It’s going to be an open game but these days when we lose the ball we try to get it back quicker.

“That’s what we did against Chelsea and Manchester City and hopefully we can take that into the Barcelona game because it’s a massive one this season, the biggest one I’m going to play in.”

Key to Arsenal’s hopes of toppling the Primera Liga champions will be the potency of Robin van Persie.

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The Holland striker has made up for lost time since returning to the side after an all too familiar injury lay-off, scoring 11 times since the turn of the year.

He also has four in his last two matches, against Newcastle and Wolves, and Walcott is delighted to have him back.

“It’s great to see him back fit,” said Walcott. “He’s a great player and I link up well with him. He’s banging in the goals now and making up for the time he missed.

“He’s a dream to play with.”