Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal need to win at least one of their two upcoming games with Bayern Munich, but backed his side to have the quality to do just that. Arsenal’s Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread after losing top Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos to start the group stage. They now host Bayern at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday before visiting the German champions in two weeks time. Currently bottom of the group, three points behind Dinamo and Olympiakos and six adrift of Bayern, Wenger did not shy away from admitting that three points is the minimum his side require from their next two matches.
“Yes, of course, that’s a realistic statement and maybe not even realistic enough,” he said at his pre-match press conference.
Arsenal’s performances in the Premier League have been much more encouraging than in Europe. On Saturday they won their third successive league match by a three-goal margin when defeating Watford 3-0. It Wenger believes that form can help Arsenal when it comes to Tuesday’s challenge, having conceded that his side had perhaps not taken their first two Champions League opponents seriously enough. But he is confident that that, at least, won’t be a problem against a team he currently considers the best in the world.
Arsenal will also be familiar with the challenge of Bayern. This is the third time in four seasons the two teams have been paired together. While Bayern have won on both previous visits to the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal have secured a victory and a draw in Munich. Although those results still led to Arsenal’s elimination at the Round of 16 stage, Wenger takes confidence from them.
“We have played some great Bayern teams, at least as good as the one we’ll meet tomorrow and beaten them,” he said. “[There was] the one that won the treble with [Franck] Ribery at full power, [Arjen] Robben at full power and [Toni] Kroos, [Bastian] Schweinsteiger and [Thomas] Müller so I believe we have played good Bayern sides and got good results against them.”
This Bayern Munich side has already done something those previous incarnations didn’t, however, becoming the first team in history to win their opening nine Bundesliga matches. In the Champions League they have been imperious, too, winning 3-0 at Olympiakos and 5-0 at home to Dinamo Zagreb.
And their current run of form has been achieved despite a lengthy injury list. Robben, Ribery, Mehdi Benatia, Mario Götze, Sebastian Rode and Holger Badstuber are all currently sidelined. Still, manager Pep Guardiola is taking nothing for granted in London, regardless of the teams’ contrasting fortunes.
“Tomorrow we don't play six points against zero,” he said, according to Uefa.com. “We play at 7.45 [UK time], at 0-0 with 90 minutes to go. When I analyze a team I never look at the table, I don't care about that. I have to analyze them as if they had six points. We know each other, Wenger and me. I faced his side with Barça and Bayern. They have great technical qualities and are very difficult to play against.
“I prefer our situation, though, no doubt about that; I prefer to come here with six points rather than none. But I can imagine my team with zero points at home to Arsenal -- I know my team would be animals and aggressive, because it is the last chance. You have to give everything.”
D: Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal
M: Coquelin, Cazorla
Ramsey, Özil , Sánchez
D: Lahm, Boateng, Martinez, Alaba
M: Vidal, Alonso, Thiago
F: Müller, Lewandowski, Costa
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EDT
TV channel: Fox Sports 2