Arsenal are reeling in the Champions League. As it stands, the Gunners have collected zero points from their first two group stage games. The situation Arsene Wenger’s men find themselves in currently is a world apart from their situation in the Premier League. Second in the table in October doesn’t quite set the pulses racing, but it at least gives a measure of Arsenal’s season thus far.
On Saturday, the Gunners took apart Watford in the second half to come away from Vicarage Road with their second successive 3–0 win. Back-to-back clean sheets is a confidence-booster like nothing else, but Bayern Munich are what they will entertain at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow night in the Champions League.
Bayern and Watford are different beasts, barely mentioned together in the same sentence. The German champions have scored eight goals without reply in the group stages so far, but Arsenal will, in truth, be their first real test, which is conflicting in every sense since the Gunners have lost both their games against the two teams Bayern brushed aside with ease.
Of course nothing is lost for the Gunners as there are 12 points still to play for in the group stages, but they must be wary to letting Bayern have the initiative in north London. Bayern are notoriously ball-hungry, and in their weekend win over Werder Bremen, they had 81 percent possession yet only managed to score once.
Midfielder Xabi Alonso completed 135 passes, a record in the current season, as the Bavarians strung together 765 successful passes in that game. And Wenger knows why he could ill-afford a draw tomorrow night. The Arsenal manager has vowed to attack Bayern as he believes a draw at home isn’t even a good result, given their perilous position in the group.
“The confidence level is there, the needed result is there as well — we know exactly what is required [because] a 0–0 is not even a good result. To score goals, we have to attack,” he told Arsenal’s official website.
While the Gunners’ first two games ended in humiliating defeats, Wenger is upbeat over his team’s ability to deliver on the big stage. Arsenal have beaten Bayern at home only once previously, when a 1–0 win at Highbury was not enough for the Gunners to avoid elimination in the 2004/05 season. However, Wenger oversaw his side win 2–0 away at Bayern in March 2013, when they narrowly lost out on away goals.
“It is true that [we have delivered big results] before, but we want to do it again,” said Wenger. Arsenal are in perfect condition to kick-start their European campaign, as injuries have been kind to them recently. Centre-back Gabriel has recovered from illness and is available for selection, while the experienced Mathieu Flamini is also back from a hamstring injury.
“For us it a perfect run in our Premier League, and on the other hand also perfect preparation for the Bayern game because we had no injuries and we got the three points. We are now in a position where we can really focus and give everything on Tuesday night,” said a confident Wenger.
Arsenal tend to produce their best performances whenever they are cornered, and this season in Europe, the Gunners have surely dragged themselves into a corner with their losses against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos. Whether the players turn up at their 100 percent tomorrow night remains to be seen, and if not, Wenger’s 17-year record of featuring in the knock-out stages will be under more threat.
Gunners goalkeeper David Ospina is attracting interest from Turkish league leaders Besiktas according to Turkish newspaper Fanatik. Besiktas are ready to make a move for the Colombian international in January.
Reports in the Sun (as sourced by Mirror) claim Arsenal will renew their interest in Dynamo Moscow striker Aleksandr Kokorin, and will test the waters with a £7m bid in January.