Belfast Telegraph

Per Mertesacker backs Arsenal to shine against Bayern Munich

Defender Per Mertesacker believes Arsenal have given themselves the perfect platform on which to rebuild their Champions League hopes ahead of a showdown against Bayern Munich.

The Gunners recovered from a dismal 3-2 home defeat by Olympiacos, which left them bottom of their qualifying group, to blow away Barclays Premier League title rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

Following the international break, Arsenal travel to Watford for another live televised encounter before the small matter of the first of two back-to-back Champions League fixtures against the Bundesliga giants.

Bayern - who knocked Arsenal out of Europe in successive campaigns - have again looked formidable, both in domestic form with eight successive Bundesliga victories and the Champions League following comfortable wins from their opening two ties, thrashing Dinamo Zagreb 5-0.

German World Cup winner Mertesacker, however, believes the manner in which Arsenal responded against United shows they could just yet pull off a shock result of their own.

"We are pleased that we have [won] after the Champions League debacle, and you could see how much the team wanted to respond," he said.

"As a team you try and remind yourself of what you can achieve and you could see that we have a lot of confidence. I hope that we can display that again in two weeks."

Mertesacker is relishing tackling an in-form Bayern side.

"That (their strength) is pretty clear and is evidence of how dominant Bayern are and what a great team they have," he said.

"We will still play them twice. We have to play a very, very good opponent and I am curious.

"We can look forward to playing against a team like that."

Mertesacker has retired from international football, so will be among only a handful of players not away.

Striker Olivier Giroud will be hoping for some game time with France in their fixtures against Armenia and Denmark, having found himself now behind Theo Walcott in the Arsenal pecking order.

France manager Didier Deschamps backed the 29-year-old to come through a "rough patch".

"This is a difficult period for him. His playing time is less important, his confidence has diminished and he recently had a match with us where he could have shown himself to perform better," Deschamps said on

"But that is part of a season, the fact that he is here means that I have confidence in him. He cannot lose his abilities overnight."

Meanwhile, Arsenal confirmed 19-year-old forward Alex Iwobi has signed a new long-term contract.


From Belfast Telegraph