BIG GAME DAY PEOPLE.
You always fear playing Bayern. Not least when they’re managed by a monster of a coach.
Pep is such a charmer in the press. He used to do the same before we’d get mauled by his Barcelona teams. He’s been flirting with our fans and the squad.
He did drop one point that was mildly amusing because it’s so true…
“I would lack the energy. I also think that the people would be bored with the coach after such a long time,”
“It’s different with Wenger. He’s more than a coach — he’s also a manager, a sporting director, and has changed the club.”
Yeah Pep, but 20 years of that would be boring. I agree.
Anyway, he had lots of nice things to say about the squad. He thinks we have the advantage.
“They have an advantage because they have to win,”
“I prefer our situation, but I can imagine how my players would be if it was the other way round… they would be animals.”
The point here is the challenge. Because we need to be animals. We need to be the side that destroyed United. We know that fire is there, but sometimes, when the gauntlet is thrown down, we slink off into the corner and do a scared wee.
Pep focused in on some of our guys as well.
‘I saw some very, very, talented players so the truth is Arsenal are in a very good shape, everybody is fit and they have no injuries.’
‘My old player Alexis is in top form. How he moves between the lines to create space is amazing.’
‘Theo Walcott does not play just as a right winger, he plays up front so that is why makes is a difference as he is so fast and it is difficult to control him.’
I think that Pep is basically saying there’s no excuse for this not to be a good game. I hope that the players don’t see this as Pep being nice, I hope they see it as him being patronising. Trying to build fear factor so that when he demolishes us, he looks great.
Wenger was also in chatty mood. Focusing in on the sublimed Lewandowski.
“First the best to combat him is for us to have the ball, and after that you have to be shrewd with him,”
“Inside the box he is outstanding, because his technique, his finishing, his movement inside the box, that is where we need the experience of Mertesacker and Koscielny.
“That’s because that will be one of the important things on the night.”
It’s going to be tough keeping him under control. He’s on fire. He’s the best striker in the world right now. We need to be smart this evening. We need to snuff out the feed into him, which, in a team of technical perfection is tougher than is sounds.
Coquelin is going to be of huge importance. We need him at the races and bristling with energy. Santi Cazorla is also going to be a key figure, creating space for our runners… but most importantly, not getting overrun in the middle of the park. My big fear in these games is power. Bayern are very strong, sometimes we’re not.
“In Europe it is true we have been poor in our first two games, so that is what we want to correct, “
Tonight is about pride. It’s about restoring some respect to our abysmal opening. It’s about keeping the candle alight, even if it’s only for a few weeks.
We’re a form side at the moment. We don’t have any major injuries. We’re in great form.
There are no excuses outside Bayern being a better team with a better manager.
… but wouldn’t it be great if Wenger pulled a rabbit out of his hat? Wouldn’t a sign of progress be that we show up with a special game plan of our own. Wouldn’t that put the wind up Bayern and the ever-so-nice Pep?
We can hope. Over to you Arsene.