Pep Guardiola has vowed to meet fire with fire as his Bayern Munich side seek to edge closer to the Champions League last 16 when they host Arsenal at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday. Arsenal emerged 2-0 winners when the sides met in London two weeks ago to keep their hopes alive of claiming a place in the knockout phase. Still, trailing Bayern and Olympiakos by three points in Group F, Arsenal remain under pressure to emerge with a positive result on Wednesday at a venue where they have secured a draw and a victory in their two previous visits. And Guardiola is expecting Arsene Wenger’s side to go on the offensive.
“They will not park the bus but attack,” he said, according to the Press Association. “Arsenal is a top team in Europe. They are strong enough. Arsenal want to attack but it’s difficult against us with our good pressing game. They will play a lot of high passes to Olivier Giroud. We did not allow them to do so in the first game.”
Defeat at the Emirates Stadium ended Bayern’s perfect start to the season, and they suffered a further blow last Friday when their 100 percent start to the Bundesliga season was ended with a goalless draw against Eintracht Frankfurt. But Guardiola is confident his side can get back to winning ways on Wednesday, by playing in a positive manner.
“We lost in London, that can happen,” he added. “Wednesday is a new game and with our fans behind us we can win the game. I hope everything will be fine.
“I think we played well in London. But a defeat sometimes happens on such a high level. I’ve never gone into a game to play for a draw. If it should so come at the end then OK. But if you can get three points, then you should do everything you can.”
Bayern certainly have the tools to go on the offensive at the Allianz Arena. While Franck Ribery and Mario Götze remain sidelined, Arjen Robben has now returned from injury and completed 90 minutes for the first time against Frankfurt.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have suffered a rash of injuries in recent days. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined an increasing list of casualties during their club’s League Cup exit to Sheffield Wednesday last week. With Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Tomas Rosicky and others already out, Arsenal’s squad has been left particularly short on the right of their attack. Ahead of the meeting with Bayern, the right side of their defense has now also suffered a blow with the news that Hector Bellerin is ruled out with a groin injury.
Still, Arsenal can take encouragement from the way they responded to their fitness concerns on Saturday. Costa Rica international Joel Campbell stepped in for his first Premier League start and marked it with a first goal in England’s top division to help Arsenal to a 3-0 win over Swansea City.
The result kept Wenger’s men level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. Their position in the Champions League remains precarious, however. Defeat on Wednesday combined with an Olympiakos win at home to Dinamo Zagreb would leave Arsenal requiring wins from their remaining two matches and other results to go their way in order to avoid failing to make the last 16 for the first time since 1999. Wenger insists he is fully focused on the difficult task at hand in Munich.
“We need to give a similar performance to when we played in the first game,” Wenger said at his pre-match press conference. “I expect Bayern to play offensively and try to put us under pressure. We have won everywhere in Europe and we will try to win this game.
“We are not at the moment thinking about how we will deal with the Europa League.”
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EDT
TV channel: Fox Sports 1