Pre-Match Report

Bayern Munich v Arsenal - Preview

Aaron Ramsey

By Richard Clarke in Munich

“It is a difficult task, we know that, but we think it is not impossible.

“And the only way to make it possible is to have a real go and play at our best. That is what we will do.

“I am confident we will be completely focused and up for it.

“Football is football and everything is possible.”

Arsène Wenger knows his side will have to pull off something staggering to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League after Wednesday night’s tie in Munich.

They trail 3-1 from the first leg three weeks ago and face a side who are vying with Barcelona as the best on their continent. Throw in a couple of key absences too and you get a grasp of the gradient on this uphill task.

Bayern were frankly brilliant in the first half at Emirates Stadium. An early brace has given them a grip on this tie that only briefly loosened when Lukas Podolski got Arsenal back into it but the squeeze returned when Mario Mandzukic looped in a third 13 minutes from time.

Jupp Heynckes’ side have continued their dominant domestic form since then and go into this game on the back of 11 straight wins. It has been fully 23 games since they suffered defeat.

“It is difficult to say what percentage chance you have,” said Wenger at his pre-match press conference. “But what is important is that we have big experience in the Champions League and, in Europe, we have won everywhere.

"What is important is that we have big experience in the Champions League and, in Europe, we have won everywhere"

Arsene Wenger

“That means we have the right to believe because we have the quality. To turn up, just accepting we go out, would be absolutely unacceptable so we want to show we can use our experience and our quality. We have the right belief to do it.

“For me, Bayern have the same quality as last year but with more certainty.

“The fact they dominate their league so much gives everybody a bit more mental strength and the whole team a bit more charisma. The doubt is not there at all, that is what has changed with last season. For us the target will be to get some doubt in their minds and that can only come with a quality game.”

Kieran Gibbs is back after six weeks out with a thigh problem and Abou Diaby is in the squad having passed a fitness test on his calf.
However Wenger has left Jack Wilshere (ankle), Podolski (ankle) and Monreal (ineligible) in London. In addition, Wojciech Szczesny is rested.

“He has played many games since the start of the season and recently I felt that it affected him mentally,” explained Wenger.

“It is his second season only in the Premier League. Some of our players have played many, many games since the start of the season. That is why you have a big squad and you sometimes rotate the players.”

Therefore it will be Lukas Fabianski or Vito Mannone between the posts on Wednesday. At his pre-match press conference, the manager would not confirm his choice but he did add: “The players who start our games have no excuse of not being fit or ready. If I decide to play them it is because they are ready.”

So, at this point, let’s entertain ‘the impossible’. Just how can Arsenal turn this tie around? As you might expect Wenger knows he must unshackle his side and, most importantly, score early.

It is a recipe that nearly worked last season against Milan when they were looking to overhaul a 4-0 deficit.

Laurent Koscielny scored in the seventh minute, Tomas Rosicky in the 26th and Robin van Persie just before the break. Arsenal had spent the vast majority of their energy in the first half and could not find a fourth but Milan had been worried. There are comparisons with Wednesday night.

“Bayern have such an advantage that we need a goal,” he said. “If we keep it tight, they will always think we have to score three. The closer it gets to the end, the more comfortable they will be.

“We have to try to gamble a little bit and to go into the game in a very positive mood to get them to be a bit insecure. I don’t think we have to be cautious on the night.

"We have to try to put Bayern on the back foot. Subconsciously anyway, they think they are through and we have to subconsciously think that we can do it"

Arsene Wenger

“The only way is to have a very positive attitude from the start of the match. I don’t think you can just switch it on after an hour if you have been cautious. When you are cautious against a team like Bayern, you risk being 1-0 down as well.

“We will of course remember what we did in the second leg against Milan last year.

“We will go into the match with a positive attitude from the start and we will fight until the very end.”

Realistically, it is all Arsenal can do. Educated attacking, stoic defending plus a dash of fortune - that is the plan.

But, make no mistake, they face a mighty task in Munich.

Team news

Bayern: Ribery (ankle), Boateng (suspended), Schweinsteiger (suspended)

Arsenal: Wilshere (ankle), Podolski (ankle), Monreal (ineligible), Sagna (knee)

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