Champions League

Gunners can pass Bayern test

2014-02-18 11:19
Arsene Wenger (AFP)

London - Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal have no reason to fear Bayern Munich as they prepare to face the Champions League holders in the last 16 first leg on Wednesday.

Just 12 months after they crashed out of Europe's elite club competition at the hands of the German giants, Wenger's team have an opportunity for revenge after being drawn to face Bayern at the same stage.

Arsenal were outclassed in the first leg last season as Bayern, who were then managed by Jupp Heynckes, cruised to a 3-1 victory in north London.

But the Gunners responded with a shock 2-0 win in the return game and came close to competing a stunning fight back before bowing out on away goals.

Winning in Munich proved a major boost for Wenger's side, who had lost their way at that time but finished the season strongly and have maintained their impressive form for much of the current campaign.

Yet Bayern, now coached by former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, are arguably an even more formidable force this season than they were last year, when they won the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup.

The Bavarians will swagger into the Emirates Stadium on a 46-match unbeaten run in the Bundesliga.

They lead the German top-flight by 16 points, allowing them to focus fully on retaining the Champions League crown they won against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley last year.

But Wenger remains optimistic and the Gunners manager is confident the experience of last season's encounters will stand his players in good stead as they seek to end Bayern's reign as holders.

"I think we know them better, individually the players," he said.

"We will be in a better condition hopefully, because last year was after the disappointment of losing against Blackburn in the FA Cup, to play Bayern three days later it was very difficult for us.

"I think in the league as well we were in a much more difficult position. Now we are mentally better prepared to go into a game of that stature."

While Bayern have swept aside all challengers under Heynckes and now Guardiola, Arsenal's trophy drought has stretched into a ninth year.

Still, the Gunners' French midfielder Mathieu Flamini sees no reason for his team-mates to go into the tie with an inferiority complex.

Citing Sunday's gritty 2-1 FA Cup fifth round win over Liverpool as proof of Arsenal's improved spirit and mental strength, Flamini said: "What I will say about this season is that I see a great commitment, I see everyone working very hard on the pitch and helping each other.

"We know it won't be an easy game because Bayern are a very strong team, but we are Arsenal, we have big ambitions.

"We will do everything to qualify for the next round in the Champions League."

Arsenal will be without suspended Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta, but Bayern have more significant absentees.

France winger Franck Ribery is sidelined after buttock surgery, while Swiss forward Xherdan Shaqiri suffered a thigh injury after scoring twice in Saturday's 4-0 win over Freiburg.

Even those injuries are unlikely to perturb Guardiola, whose side are respectful of the dangers posed by Arsenal without being intimidated by the Premier League team.

"We're not going there for a 0-0 draw, we want to win in London, of course," Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said.

"It won't be easy, they have put some confidence back in the tank after the Liverpool result."

Centre-back Jerome Boateng believes Arsenal are "stronger" than last season and he claimed Mesut Ozil has added an extra menace to their attacking play, even though the Germany international has endured an up and down first season in English football.

"Mesut Ozil is their key player and we have to be wide awake," Boateng said.

"We have to prove on the pitch that we are better. We don't want to go into the return match chasing a result."


Read more on:    arsenal  |  champions league  |  arsene wenger  |  socccer
NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Sport Talk

Fixtures
22 April 2014
Atlético de Madrid v Chelsea, Vicente Calderón 20:45
23 April 2014
Real Madrid v FC Bayern München, Santiago Bernabéu 20:45
29 April 2014
FC Bayern München v Real Madrid, Allianz Arena 20:45
Logs
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Which team will win the 2013/14 Champions League title?

 
 
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured Blog

The stock of Bulls and Sharks 2014 Super Rugby jerseys are slowly becoming available after the festive season break, writes blogger Baylion.

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.