By Rob Kelly
“In 2015 we are the team that has taken more points than everybody else, and we are still accused of being inconsistent. But in Europe it’s true we have been poor in our first two games - that is what we want to correct.” - Arsene Wenger
Arsenal find themselves with their backs firmly to the wall as they head into Tuesday night’s showdown with Bayern Munich.
They also boast a 100 per cent record in the Champions League and while Wenger is an admirer of Pep Guardiola’s side, he feels his side are coming good at just the right time.
|Arsenal: Wilshere (ankle), Welbeck (knee), Rosicky (knee), Ospina (shoulder)
Bayern Munich: Ribery (ankle), Robben (groin), Gotze (adductor), Badstuber (thigh), Benatia (thigh)
“We fight the whole season to be in the Champions League so [our aim is] not to go out. We want to be in every competition,” he said.
“In 2015 we are the team that has taken more points than everybody else, and we are still accused of being inconsistent. But in Europe it’s true we have been poor in our first two games -that is what we want to correct.
“We played well [against Manchester United]. But people didn’t give us credit to win 5-2 at Leicester where we had an outstanding performance.
"Physically, that was the highest performance of the season and I think we had not completely recovered against Olympiacos.
“But I think since the start of the season we are slowly moving up.
"If you look at our record in the Champions League, over 160 games nobody has a better percentage of winning than us. We want to win [the competition] but the obsession at the moment is to stay in it, not to win it.”
ONE TO WATCH
Coming up against a Bayern backline that has only conceded four goals in 11 games, Aaron Ramsey’s return to goalscoring form could barely be better timed.
The Wales international proved his prowess during the 2013/14 campaign, when he claimed an impressive 18 goals in 38 appearances - and since then he has shown himself to be a ‘streaky’ scorer.
His 11 goals last season were tightly bunched into clusters of two to five games and, having scored in his last two games for club and country, Wenger is hopeful Ramsey will continue in the same vein on Tuesday night.
“I like the fact that Aaron got on the scoresheet [at Watford] - you know with him there’s more to come after,” the manager said. “In fairness it’s the case for many players. As long as they fight against the scoring, sometimes they lose a little bit of that coolness in front of goal that stops you from scoring.
“He’s a bit similar to Thomas Muller [with his timing] because they both make runs, get into the box at the right moment and finish.”
It says much for Robert Lewandowski’s red-hot form that, in a galaxy of stars at Bayern Munich, he is the one burning brightest right now.
|Arsenal and Bayern Munich are facing each other for the third time in the last four Champions League seasons
Bayern Munich have won only one of their last five away games in the Champions League (D1 L3)
Arsenal have never lost three consecutive games in the Champions League
Theo Walcott has made 49 Champions League appearances, and has been involved in all three of Arsenal's goals this season (two goals, one assist)
The Poland international has an incredible 22 goals in 16 games for club and country this season, a record that includes five goals in nine minutes after coming off the bench against Wolfsburg last month.
Lewandowski also has fond memories of Emirates Stadium, having scored the winner there during his time at Borussia Dortmund almost two years ago to the day.
Wenger is well aware of the Pole’s predatory instincts, and says he will provide a stern test for Arsenal’s two centre backs.
“First of all the best way to combat him is for us to have the ball,” the manager said. “After that you have to be shrewd with him because inside the box he is outstanding, because of his technique, his finishing, his movement.
"That’s where we need the experience of Mertesacker and Koscielny to deal with that because that will be one of the important things on the night.”
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