Arsenal will be without Jack Wilshere as they look to overturn a 3-1 deficit to Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena. It was a convincing defeat for the Gunners at the Emirates three weeks ago and Wenger knows that the absence of their key midfielder with an ankle problem further hampers their chances of pulling off a remarkable comeback to make the last eight of the Champions League.
“It is a big blow that Wilshere will miss the next three to four weeks,” he said, according to UEFA’s Web site. “It is a difficult task, but we know it is not impossible. The only way to succeed is to play as well as we can. We will give our best and football is football—anything is possible. We need a good mixture of determination and discipline.”
Wenger has also confirmed that goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will not feature, with Lukasz Fabiasnki set to come in for his first appearance for Arsenal in over a year.
“I decided to give him a breather just to refresh him and [so that he would] not be under increasing pressure, because once people start speaking about you, you think, ‘Now I cannot afford any [errors]’ and that's when you make mistakes,” Wenger explained, according to Arsenal’s website.
Lukas Podolski and Bacary Sagna are also set to miss out with niggling injuries. Perhaps viewing the task in Munich as an insurmountable one, there are also reports that Wenger will leave out Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla.
There is some good news for Arsenal, with Kieran Gibbs fit to return in place of the cup-tied Nacho Monreal.
Bayern have their own problems in terms of selection, with Bastian Schweinsteiger joining defender Jerome Boateng on the suspended list, while Franck Ribery will be absent with an ankle injury. Arjen Robben will come in for the France international and, although the often frustrating Dutchman has not been a regular this season, he showed the quality he still possesses with a fine goal recently against Borussia Dortmund.
Following their impressive first-leg display, many were quick to ordain Bayern as favorites to go one better than last season and claim a fifth European Cup. But manager Jupp Heynckes is eager for his players not to lose focus on the task at hand.
“We are not paying attention to the hype around us,” he revealed. “People are saying we are the best team in Europe; that does not affect us. There are so many strong teams in Europe and to reach the final you always need a little luck. So my team remains calm and down to earth. We have a long way to go.”
Bayern Munich (probable)
D: Lahm, Van Buyten, Dante, Alaba
M: Javi Martinez, Luiz Gustavo
Muller, Kroos, Robben
D: Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen. Gibbs
M: Coquelin, Arteta
Ramsey, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Bayern Munich are overwhelming favorites to make it through to the quarterfinals, at 1/100 with Paddy Power. Arsenal are 14/1. Bayern are also strong favorites to get a win on the night, at 2.5, with a draw priced at 15/4 and an Arsenal win available at 7/1.
You can get a detailed analysis and prediction here.
Where to watch: The second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie will kick-off at 3.45 p.m. The match will be covered by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.