Wenger – We can do it

Team News

“Wilshere is out with an inflamed ankle, on the other ankle, not where he was injured. He will be out for three weeks and will not be available for Munich, Swansea or England.

“Kieran Gibbs is back in the squad. It’s great to have him back in the squad because we play Vermaelen out of position, overall he can play left back but I am not decided yet whether he will start or not, but I will hope he will be fit enough to start tomorrow.

“Sagna is not available. Diaby is back in the squad, he has a test this morning. Again he is a bit short, but hopefully he will be able to travel.”

Preparation for facing Munich during the 10 day break

“Well we have practiced a lot and prepared for this game. It was a bit came out of a very stressful period, and mentally it was good to have a little breather and to refresh. On the football front, we could mix up the recovery and preparation.”

What lessons can you take from the Milan game last year?

“I believe that we were very close because we scored early goals and we were up 3-0 and in the final 30 minutes we could not get that 4th goal. Of course we remember forever the chance van Persie had to score the 4th goal. After on the bench we were a bit short when we dropped to come on and make the difference. This time I hope that we can do it.”

Is there a freedom when being the underdogs?

“There is a kind of lets really play with freedom, yes. Lets start strong, I believe we have to create a doubt in their mind and you do only that if you have a real go. The chance you have is to insecure the certainty they have at the moment. That you can only do when you play your best.”

Balancing the team to score goals without conceding

“We have to have a real go without being silly and think that the game only lasts 30 minutes and lets do anything just to throw everything forward from the 1st minute on. We want to be positive, but as well be intelligent.”

Kroos wants focus, while Martinez anticipates “crazy game”

Heading in to the second-leg of the Round of 16 tie between Arsenal and Bayern, the Gunners must overcome a 3-1 deficit at the Allianz Arena, Bayern Munich’s fortress.

To qualify for the quarter-finals Arsenal would have to complete one of the most heroic comebacks in Champions League history, a fate the almost achieved at the same stage last year after losing 4-0 in the first leg, before winning the second 3-0.

Although this task borders impossible against a formidable Bayern side who are one of the competitions favourites, not to mention that it has to be Arsenal’s weakest side under Wenger, the Bayern Munich players have insisted that Arsenal are not to be underestimated.

Toni Kroos who scored the first goal at the Emirates has said that: “We should not be talking about the draw for the quarter-finals yet. We have the return against Arsenal first. We will have to secure progress before we can think about the outcome of the draw.

“We have to be focused and cannot afford to underestimate Arsenal. They are a top team, as we all saw in the first leg. We have to put in another sovereign performance.

“So far strong teams such as Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Juventus have qualified [for the quarter-finals], so we will face a difficult opponent either way.”

Manuel Neuer has backed up Kroos, insisting that Bayern will approach the match with the right attitude.

“We continue to give our all, also in the Champions League match versus Arsenal. We will approach the game with the right attitude again and want to emerge victorious. I hope we can keep a clean sheet this time.”

One of their midfield maestro’s will be missing through suspension, Bastian Schweinsteiger no less. But they have another in the form of Damien Martinez who they payed a fee of £35m for, twice Arsenal’s record transfer.

Martinez told the Daily Star: “I think it will be an open match. Arsenal need a crazy game to create spaces on the pitch and score goals. We need to keep our heads and rely on our system.

“We cannot think about what happened in the first match.

“This Bayern squad has a winning mentality and our rivals fear us because we are serious contenders for the Champions League.

“Bayern dream of reaching another final and I consider that we have a good chance of getting there. We have to make sure we don’t fail.”

“We need to concentrate for the full 90 minutes because to go out after leading 3-1 would be a huge blow for us.

“Nobody is thinking in this way but we all know Arsenal will arrive in Germany playing for pride and looking for revenge.”

“People have criticised their performance – but we totally ran rings around them.”

Higuain tempted by Premier League move

Arsenal and North London rivals, Tottenham, are the two teams being tabbed favourites to sign Real Madrid want-away striker, Gonzalo Higuain, who has been out of favour this season at the Bernabeu. 

With both Arsenal and Tottenham missing out on their striking targets in January, it is reported they will go neck and neck to battle for the signature of the Argentine.

With Arsenal’s newly-found £70m budget to spend, Higuain will be an affordable option for Arsenal, especially as he has become a fringe player and isn’t necessarily needed, regardless of whether they want him or not.

However, rumours suggest that he could be used in a part-exchange deal with Spurs to sign Gareth Bale, which alongside cash would total to a worth of £61m.

Gonzalo Higuain has, according to Give Me Football, expressed his dissatisfaction at being left on the border of the team, following behind Benzema in the pecking order, with Ronaldo capable of playing anyway across the front three as well if necessary. They have also claimed he would prefer a move to the Premier League, but reports suggest Man City, Chelsea, and United, have their eyes on more expensive targets with the names of Cavani, Falcao, and Lewandowski on the tips of everyone’s tongues.

It seems likely that the Argentine would prefer a move to a Champions League team, and at the moment it is unfortunately Tottenham’s to lose. But also, it wouldn’t be surprising if they did lose it.

Arsenal want France’s prolific U21 Striker

Arsene Wenger is set to return to his former ways by attempting to get the signature of a French youngster.

This time it would be in the form of Yaya Sanogo of Auxerre, with Wenger seemingly returning to his own familiar stomping ground, where he picked up some of the best footballers around just over a decade ago.

The French U21 international stands at 6ft 3in and has ability with his feet and his head. Making that point was a necessity given recent signings.

Pressure is amounting on Wenger to deliver with Arsenal fans losing their patient after an 8 season wait. Quality is needed upfront, in the defence and defensive midfield areas (so most areas) with previous years seeing a drop in the quality of players signed. It’s been apparent to fans and pundits alike for a while but Wenger has been resoundingly stubborn.

Sanago is out of contract at the end of the season and currently free to speak to foreign clubs.

Arsene is reported to have travelled to Paris to talk to Yaya and the players representatives, with Head Scout, Gilles Grimandi.

Currently playing for Ligue 2 side Auxerre, Sango has enjoyed a resurgence after coming back from a double-leg-break earlier in his career that kept him sidelined for a year and a half. The Frenchman has scored seven goals in just seven games since.

Wenger – We won’t crack under pressure

Arsene Wenger spoke to Eurosport earlier on, claiming Arsenal’s experience in this end of season scrap will prove beneficial to them, despite sitting 5-points adrift of fourth spot, but as well admitted to having some deeper concerns.

“Of course, you are not feeling great if you can’t win, but we can stay solid or crack under the pressure.

“If you want to know, I am still solid, but I can’t tell you that I feel great right now because my job is about winning games and when you lose you will not find a single coach in this world who feels good.

“I am not worried about us potentially coming back against Bayern, I am more worried about consequences that could manifest in the heads of our players.

“You will never know how they can absorb those blows and how the team responds to disappointment. This is the most worrying aspect for me.

“But from the experience of how to handle the end of the season, we know how to deal with that. We have had lots of experience.”

Arsenal head into the Allianz Arena in Munich to face Bayern after a 10-day break, while Bayern Munich will have only had a 3-day rest. Whether this will help Arsenal at all seems unlikely based on current form, with winning the match looking like an impossible task let alone the whole-tie. However, stranger things have happened in football, especially where Arsenal are involved.