Belfast Telegraph

Champions League: Bayern battle is perfect platform for Gunners to display mettle says Arsenal boss Wenger

By Mark Bryans

Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal side to show that they are moving forward as a team by completing a Champions League double over Bayern Munich.

Having lost their two opening Group F games, the Gunners still face a challenge to make the latter stages of the competition despite an impressive victory over top seeds Bayern a fortnight ago.

A Capital One Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday aside, Wenger's side are now on a good run of form and are only being kept off the top of the Premier League due to Manchester City's superior goal difference.

Another famous win at the Allianz Arena tonight would put Arsenal into a better position to reach the knock-out stages and Wenger wants to see his players prove they have blossomed into a team who can challenge for the top honours.

"I don't want to take anything away from Bayern, they are playing extremely well, but I think it is a good opportunity for us to show that we are moving forward, that we are up to the test we face tomorrow," said Wenger.

"We have shown that in the first game. What you want is 100 per cent commitment from your players in an intelligent way.

"What we want is a similar performance what we did against them, we have done well here and we just want to do what it takes to make a positive result.

"We have done that before, it is the challenge for us. We know what we want to do so let's concentrate on doing what we want to do."

Bayern boss Pep Guardiola reckons Arsenal will adapt a long-ball policy, lumping the ball towards Olivier Giroud as they look for a breakthrough.

Giroud has scored in Arsenal's last two wins over Bayern - including an early effort in their 2-0 win at the Allianz Arena in 2013.

The Gunners have not lost on either of their last two trips to Munich as they drew in the round of 16 the following season, although went out on aggregate on both occasions, but it is victory that Wenger desires as he knows defeat would leave Arsenal teetering on elimination.

"I don't think it is easy to look for a draw," he said.

"What we want is to play to win. When you are Arsenal and we have won everywhere in Europe, even here, we will try to win the game.

"We are in a period where we are doing well and that should convince the players we can do something right. We have a good togetherness and I believe we are a team that stick together when things don't go well.

"A defeat would put us in a very bad position, that is why we don't want to lose the game.

"We would still have a chance but it would diminish our chance to qualify, the best way is not to get into that position."

Wenger announced that Hector Bellerin will not feature after suffering a groin injury.

The loss of the 20-year-old, who impressed in the meeting two weeks ago, could be costly but Wenger has backed France international Mathieu Debuchy to step up having confirmed the former Newcastle man will start in Bellerin's absence.

"He will play and I'm confident, I trust Debuchy," added Wenger.

"He is a very dedicated player and works hard in training. He played the full game last week against Sheffield Wednesday so physically he should be ready."

Belfast Telegraph


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