The mood is good around Arsenal at the minute.
Three consecutive Premier League games have been won by a three goal margin, with the Gunners finally showing the sort of consistency Arsène Wenger has called for. The season is long and the most consistent top team will probably win the league.
In Europe, Arsenal have been consistent. Unfortunately, we’ve been consistently poor. Premier League form is great, but Champions League defeats to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos leave us on the brink of elimination ahead of back-to-back fixtures against Bayern Munich.
None of that seemed to get Arsène Wenger down as he faced the press on Monday. The Frenchman believes in his players and knows they can get a result against anyone.
“The confidence level is there, the needed result is there as well – we know exactly what is required [because] a 0-0 is not even a good result. To score goals, we have to attack,” Wenger said, leaving no doubts about how the Gunners will approach the game.
“Maybe subconsciously we thought ‘anyway we will win these [first two games]’
“Now to correct that we need a great performance. What we want to do is play up to our level – that will be needed because we play against a big team.”
We’ve won these big games before, but have never been so desperate for a win against a huge club just to make the knockout rounds of the competition.
Thankfully, there are no injury concerns ahead of the big game. The long-term absentees (Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere) are still out, while David Ospina is missing but won’t be missed with Petr Čech in goal.
Arsène Wenger had joked about possibly resting Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez after the Watford game, but that was never going to happen and he ruled it on on Monday.
Gabriel returns to the squad, but isn’t likely to start.
Possible XI: Čech; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ramsey, Özil, Alexis; Walcott.
So far this season, Pep Guardiola’s side have won all 12 of their competitive matches. Arsène Wenger knows the task ahead of us, but is still sure Arsenal can get a result.
Bayern are one of the “best in the world” Wenger said in the pre-match press conference.
“[But] there is no team without weaknesses. If you ask me to come out with them then I would not especially do that but there is no team without weaknesses.”
It’s hard to spot Bayern’s weakness. They’ve conceded just five times in 12 Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Pokal games this season, while scoring 40. The team play together well no matter what formation Pep Guardiola lines them up in (and he lines them up in a fair few) and have players with huge individual quality.
Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller have already scored 26 goals between them this season in the Bundesliga and Champions League. Arsenal have only managed 19 in Europe and the Premier League.
Despite missing Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, Mario Götze, Mehdi Benatia, Holger Badstuber and Sebastian Rode, they will field an unbelievably strong side on Tuesday and could use any shape, from 3-4-3 to 4-1-4-1 or even a 4-4-2.
Possible XI: Neuer; Lahm, Martinez, Boateng, Alaba; Alonso; Müller, Thiago, Vidal, Costa; Lewandowski.
As far as the Champions League is concerned, the damage has already been done to Arsenal. It was a huge shock to see the Gunners lose to both Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos.
To qualify from this position would be excellent, but don’t bank on it. To have any chance, Arsène Wenger’s men realistically need something from Tuesday night’s match. The Premier League form has been great, hopefully we can start as quickly as we did against Manchester United and rattle Bayern’s cage.