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Wednesday 13 March 2013

Bayern quest 'not mission impossible' says Wenger

Arsenal without a number of key players for their Champions League last-16 trip to Bayern Munich

  • Arsene Wenger takes his Arsenal side's training session at a sub-zero London Colney

Arsenal will be without a number of key players for tonight's UEFA Champions League round-of-16 second-leg clash at Bayern Munich, but manager Arsene Wenger insists his side can still upset the odds to progress to the quarter-finals.

"Let's start strong. We have to create doubt in their mind and you only do that if you have a real go"
Arsene Wenger

The Gunners suffered a 3-1 defeat in the first leg at Highbury and will be missing two key players in Bavaria with midfielder Jack Wilshere out for three weeks with an ankle injury and former Bayern forward Lukas Podolski having failed in his bid to overcome a similar problem.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has been rested, Bacary Sagna is still on the sidelines with a knee complaint and Nacho Monreal is ineligible as the Gunners attempt to pull off a great escape at the Allianz Arena.

"It is not mission impossible," said Wenger on Monday. "It can be done, but first of all you need 100 per cent commitment, attitude and things to go your way. But usually football goes your way when you have the right attitude.

"There is a kind of [feeling of] 'let's really play with freedom'. Let's start strong. We have to create doubt in their mind and you only do that if you have a real go. The chance you have is to [make] insecure the certainty Bayern have at the moment. That you can only do if you perform at your best.

"We can have a real go without being silly. We can't think that the game lasts 30 minutes and throw everything forward from the first minute on. We want to be positive but also intelligent."

Wenger does at least have left-back Kieran Gibbs available again after overcoming a thigh injury, while Abou Diaby may make his return from a calf injury, having been included in the 18-man party along with Andrey Arshavin and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who has impressed in recent comeback matches in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League.

Bayern forward Franck Ribery also misses out, while midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and defender Jerome Boateng are both suspended for the encounter. Former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben, however, is expected to return after skipping his side’s 3-2 Bundesliga victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf at the weekend with a calf problem.

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Key Points

  • Wenger insists Champions League quest is not 'mission impossible'
  • Arsenal without Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski for last-16 match
  • Gunners must reverse 3-1 first-leg deficit in Germany to progress to last eight