Arsenal

Arsene Wenger: Key Takeaways from Bayern vs. Arsenal Pre-Match Press Conference

Arsene Wenger was in a defensive mood ahead of his team's game against Bayern Munich.
Arsene Wenger was in a defensive mood ahead of his team's game against Bayern Munich.Associated Press
Jason PettigroveContributor IMarch 10, 2014

Arsenal go into the Champions League Round of 16 second leg against Bayern Munich facing a two-goal deficit and a real uphill struggle against Pep Guardiola's free-flowing and free-scoring side.

On Monday evening in Munich, manager Arsene Wenger and midfielder Mikel Arteta faced the media at the pre-match press conference.

Despite being behind in the tie and losing Kieran Gibbs to injury, the Frenchman initially remained upbeat. Arsenal's Twitter feed reported the opening exchanges:

With Laurent Koscielny recovered from his own injury and available, plus the possibility of Thomas Vermaelen at left-back, the Gunners still retain a solid base from which to build.

It will be Koscielny's partnership with Per Mertesacker that will be crucial for Arsenal retaining a foothold in the tie during the early stages of the game.

As Squawka.com details, the performance stats of both players are comfortably the best in the entire Arsenal squad.

Arsene Wenger will be delighted at the return of Laurent Koscielny.
Arsene Wenger will be delighted at the return of Laurent Koscielny.Michael Regan/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger will certainly need his two defensive generals to be on top of their game against a side that has scored 26 goals in their last six games and have won 25 out of their last 26 in all competitions, per WhoScored.com.

Interestingly, the only game in that run where Bayern have failed to take the points was in the Champions League—against English opposition.

Manchester City's 3-2 win wasn't a fluke either. Manuel Pellegrini's side took the game to their hosts and fully deserved to leave with a win that was perhaps unexpected outside of the confines of the Etihad Stadium.

The Gunners too have often shown that they are at their very best with their backs against the wall, when they have been all but written off.

Wenger recalled their astonishing win against Inter Milan by way of example, as reported by Arsenal's Twitter feed:

It was put to him by reporters that in fact Arsenal had little hope of winning the tournament, and according to Rob Kelly of Arsenal.com, whilst stopping short of writing off his own sides hopes, Wenger said:

The danger now is that in Europe you might have a two-tier European Cup. You have eight to 10 clubs who can win the European Cup and the rest have no chance.

Bayern are a special team, I don’t deny that, but they are in a huge dominating situation in Europe. They can play who they want the week before the game in Europe, and they win 3-1 or 4-1.

It was obviously a thinly veiled dig at the English Football Association, who continue to schedule high-pressure matches before the big European games. For example, this past weekend, Arsenal were involved in a fairly gruelling and important FA Cup quarter-final against Everton.

By contrast, Bayern were enjoying a 6-1 cakewalk against Wolfsburg. 

Wenger seemed tense and more than a little defensive.

James Olley, the Evening Standard's Chief Football Correspondent, noted via Twitter another sly dig from Wenger, this one aimed at UEFA:

Supporters also picked up on his other comment concerning fairness:

Playing such mind games (Jose Mourinho would be proud) are not usually the Arsenal manager's forte. And his comments won't have gone unnoticed in the corridors of power.

Perhaps he has a point.

Robin van Persie's red against Barcelona at the Camp Nou is a particular situation that springs readily to mind.

In concluding the press conference, Wenger stated the blindingly obvious:

If Arsenal do indeed take the tie, it won't just be "absolutely great." It will rank amongst the best results the club has ever had.

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