Munich: Arsenal's Champions League experience and determination give them the right to believe they can turn round a 3-1 last-16 first-leg loss to Bayern Munich when they meet again on Wednesday, coach Arsene Wenger said. Arsenal are looking to become only the third team in the competition's history to lose the first leg at home in a knockout round and advance with an away win.
A string of absentees including Jack Wilshere, Lukas Podolski and Bacary Sagna, have made their already huge task that much bigger but Wenger said his team was ready to spring a major shock. "I hope we will surprise you tomorrow," a smiling Wenger told reporters on Tuesday. "Yes we have injured but we have come here with a good team that is motivated." "The important thing is to go into the game with instant pressure and get that early goal. Our belief will never be more tested than tomorrow night," said the Frenchman.
Wenger, who also left keeper Wojciech Szczesny at home citing the player's mental fatigue after a long season, said his team would need to find the right balance between determination and "freedom" on the pitch given the first-leg result. "We have big experience in the Champions League and in Europe we have basically won everywhere and that means we have the right to believe," he said. "Turn up just expecting to go out would be absolutely unacceptable for us."
The Premier League side will, however, come up against arguably the most in-form team in Europe with Bayern 20 points clear in the Bundesliga and in sparkling form. The Bavarians are also eager to make amends for last year's Champions League final defeat by Chelsea in Munich. "Bayern is a team that has the certainty. They had the same quality last year but less certainty because they were less dominant in the (domestic) league," said Wenger.
"The doubt is not there at all and that is what changes from last season. So for us the target will be to put some doubts in their minds," he said. Arsenal's hopes of winning their first major trophy since 2005 will be over unless they knock out Bayern. They almost pulled off a big comeback in the Champions League round of 16 last season, losing to AC Milan 4-0 in the first leg and narrowly going out after winning the return 3-0. "We are in the opposite situation from Bayern. But if this team can find a big win the you will see a completely different animal," said Wenger. "We have struggled to find it. They (the players) have not been rewarded yet and it is important to do it tomorrow."