Arsenal boss Wenger insists Bayern are favourites
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed that Bayern Munich are the favourites to defend their Champions League title, but insisted that his side would provide a much sterner challenge to the Bavarians than they did the previous year.
Bayern, under the stewardship of Jupp Heynckes, knocked out the Gunners on their way to a memorable Wembley triumph, but Wenger believes it will require a more strenuous effort from the Bundesliga champions to repeat last campaign's feat.
"We know that we face the favourites of the competition but we believe we can do it but that's down to the quality of our performance" the Frenchman said.
"We are in a much better mental shape than one year ago because we lost against Blackburn in the FA Cup and it was a big disappointment for us.
"This time we won against Liverpool and we are determined to win this game. We are in a strong position".
But the vast task which confronts the Gunners should not be over-looked. This is a formidable Bayern side, powered by Heynckes and enhanced by Pep Guardiola. They lead the Bundesliga by sixteen points, a stark contrast to the dogged resilience and competiveness displayed by Arsenal on all fronts. But this, however, is the cause of the abundance of quality Guardiola has at his disposal. Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinstiger will miss the Bavarians' return to London, where they beat national rivals Dortmund at Wembley in the final, through injury.
But Arsenal can take solace from their 2-0 second-leg victory at the Allianz Arena last season but it did not prove enough, with Bayern advancing courtesy of their crucial third away goal at the Emirates Stadium.
The London outfit have a tendency to make things too difficult for themselves, as proven by their last two exploits in the Champions League. Two years ago, Wenger's men were comprehensively beaten at the San Siro by AC Milan. However, when the second-leg of that particular quarter-final came around, the Gunners ran out 3-0 winners but were unable to complete an epic comeback. Last season serves as an exemplar of this trend.
But as Wenger stated, this is a different side to the one which faced Bayern in the previous campaign. This is a side with more belief and confidence about them, a consequence of their success so far this season. And the Premier League title-chasing Gunnners will indisputably provide Guardiola's Bavarians with a firmer examination.
They will have to do so without the suspended Mikel Arteta, who saw red in Arsenal's last group game at Napoli. The fit-again Tomas Rosicky will take his place while Ballon d'Or finalist Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri miss out for Bayern.
Related Arsenal News