• Wilshere 'lucky' to be an Arsenal first-team regular, says coach
• 'There is no pressure at Arsenal to win titles,' claims Guardiola
Pep Guardiola has dismissed the threat of Jack Wilshere by claiming that Barcelona's reserve team is full of players like the 19-year-old and that the midfielder is a first-team regular only because Arsène Wenger is not under pressure to win titles.
Guardiola was asked about the quality of Wilshere and the Barcelona coach said: "Wilshere is a top player. He is an excellent player, not just Arsenal, but also for the national team. [But] he is lucky because we have many players in the second team like him but he plays because there is no pressure at his club to win titles."
When asked to respond to Guardiola's comments, Wenger was dismissive. "I just play Jack Wilshere because he is good enough to play and because he deserves his place. I'm long enough in the job to know when a player deserves to play. It's nothing do with what I have to deliver or whether I'm under pressure."
Guardiola offered a joke regarding the late inclusion of Robin van Persie in the 19-man Arsenal squad named by Wenger after the Frenchman had previously claimed that the striker could be out for a month or so. "Maybe there could be a private flight for [Theo] Walcott to come in at the last minute – you never know," he said of the injured Englishman who has been left at home, before claiming he wanted Arsenal to be at full strength, if possible.
"I want all the great players to play, everyone against everyone and see a great show tomorrow. I hope they are all in the team – Van Persie, [Samir] Nasri, Cesc [Fábregas]. I want [Alex] Song to play, because I would like to play the best possible Arsenal. If Van Persie plays, then no problem.
"Arsenal have many alternatives, are very dynamic and can play in different positions. Their counterattack is great; we will try to prevent that. This is always a special game in the Champions League and it is a magnificent challenge."
Guardiola also stated that Arsenal have no mental weakness despite winning no major trophy since 2005. "I keep hearing about the fragility in the minds of the Arsenal players, but I do not agree. They are competing with Manchester United for the Premier League, reached the final of the Carling Cup and a few seasons ago were in the final of the Champions League. Arsenal are always in the top, when you compete every season at the top, it is because you are quality."