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.”

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.

Pause Pleases Per

Mertesacker his pleased that Arsenal have a 10-day break in order to regroup ahead of the Bayern Munich battle.

After losing 2-1 to Tottenham, going 2-0 in the first half, in yet another big game, was a tough blow to take. It’s become a habit, and Per believes the break can help the Gunners to rediscover some form, and cut out the mistakes.

With Everton making it through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and us being knocked out, we have been provided with a weekend without football. Could this be a blessing in disguise, and help us to catch the German’s off-guard? I wouldn’t get your hopes up, but with Arsenal you never know. Per thinks it can certainly help.

“We need this breather now,” he told the London Evening Standard. “We have 10 days until our next game so we can think about our situation. Of course there is potential but we need to show that.

“That’s what we need in the next few weeks. To go to Munich, to show responsibility for the Champions League, take the chance there and afterwards we have to take care about the league and try to go for all points.

“We were good in the beginning (against Spurs) but we need to maintain that level and that’s what we are lacking all the time, that consistency over 90 minutes or at least to keep a clean sheet for the first 45 minutes.

Wilshere over Bale, any day of the week

Jack Arsene Wenger wouldn’t swap Jack Wilshere for Gareth Bale who has been tabbed as England and Arsenal’s saviour, backing the midfielder, who is an integral part of both country and club’s future plans and hopes, to achieve 100+ caps for England. 

As we head in to the North London Derby, all the talk has been about inform man Gareth Bale, who has single-handedly maintained the four-point lead Tottenham have over Arsenal on Sunday, and drawn comparisons with Europe’s best after his match-winning performances this season, although Wenger has brushed the hype aside.

The Arsenal boss reckons his own influential midfielder-maestro has limitless possibilities.

“Bale is the flavour of the moment. When you look at Wilshere, who will deny that this guy will get 100 caps for England? Nobody, if he has no injury.

“My worry is not to compare Wilshere with anyone else. My only worry when you are a footballer player of that talent is to become as good as you can become.

“That is the only thing that is of interest to me. I leave the comparisons to other people. My job is to get the best out of him.

“You tend to forget how old he is when you see him play. You never come out of a game and think ‘this guy is 21 years old’. He’s at a stage where the others have not started,” said Wenger.

“You think of Jack, an established player in the Premier League and at international level, that is still something special.”

Adding that Jack can become Arsenal’s long-term leader:”Jack breathes football. He doesn’t talk too much, but he understands everything.

“What he has exceeded is the speed of his physical fitness in the game. Honestly, I never expected that.”

Wenger also believes that there are goals to from Wilshere, who is yet to score in the Premier League this season.

“I believe it’s part of his development to play a bit more advanced,” the Arsenal boss said.

“In some games, he is more comfortable deeper. I believe he has a little dribble that can get him through in the final third and the finishing will come.

“He’s a bit in a situation like Fabregas was for a while. He said to me ‘but I cannot score goals’, however you could see that it would come.

“Jack doesn’t talk about it, but who doesn’t want to score goals? He is more a team player than a goalscorer.

“He will never be a goalscorer, but he can be capable to score.”