John Hartson backs Arsenal to beat Barcelona on one condition

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Former Arsenal striker John Hartson is backing his old club to pull off a shock against Barcelona in the Champions League.

Hartson, who scored 17 goals in 70 games for Arsenal between 1995 and 1997, has given his verdict on how he thinks Arsene Wenger's side will fare against the mighty Barcelona in the Champions League knockout stages.

The Catalan giants have come up against the North Londoners three times in recent years and have seen them off on every occasion.

Indeed even when the Gunners did make it to - and take a 1-0 lead in - the final of Europe's elite competition in 2006, there were Barca to spoil things.

Enrique’s side are the current holders and with the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez up front promise to give Wenger's men their biggest test yet.

Most Arsenal fans were devastated to draw Luis Enrique's all-conquering side in the last 16, particularly given they have been knocked out at the last-16 stage in each of the last five years.

Hartson optimistic

But speaking to talkSPORT, Hartson believes there is cause for optimism.

"Listen, don't get me wrong Barcelona and Bayern Munich are the favourites for the competition," Hartson told talkSPORT.

"But I fancy Arsenal to do something.

"They are in good form at the moment. They went to Olympiacos knowing they needed to win 2-0 and ended up winning 3-0 with a great performance.

"And they have done all that without (Alexis) Sanchez so if they can get him back for that game I think they have a real chance I really do."

Refreshing positivity

It will be refreshing for Arsenal fans to hear a positive take on the clash having been written off in all quarters.

Arsenal supporters have also had to endure reports that the Catalan giants' players cheered when the draw was made such was their delight at pulling the Premier League title hopefuls out of the hat, as reported by the Mirror.

The Gunners are the closest thing the English top flight has to a Barcelona in terms of style and whatever the outcome it promises to be a thrilling game for the neutral.

Sanchez is expected to be back in the coming weeks and as Hartson suggests, injury permitting, he could come back to haunt his former club.

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