As Arsenal prepare for a huge match in Germany this week, they must look back on their last visit to a Bundesliga side for inspiration.
When Arsenal were eliminated from last season’s Champions League, seasoned observers nodded their head as if all was if not right then certainly normal in the footballing world.
Just as night follows day so – in recent seasons at least – the Gunners fail to make the quarter-finals of Europe’s most prestigious club competition.
But last season was different, because their 2-0 victory against a seemingly unbeatable team proved the catalyst for a late-season surge that shows no sign of stopping, despite the break between one campaign and the next.
Arsenal defeated Bayern Munich that night back in March because they had no fear of losing. After all, the damage had already been done in the first-leg, when the German side ran riot at the Emirates and showed anyone who had not yet noticed just how deadly they could be on their day.
The second-leg was not their day. In fact Jupp Heynckes’ men were somewhat subdued.
But take nothing away from Arsenal. They struck early and they struck late, and they could have struck in between had Gervinho not missed by a whisker.
But while Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny’s goals ultimately wrote little more than a chapter in the book of might-have-beens, Wenger’s men showed they could go to Germany and not just win, but win well.
As they prepare to face Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday evening, the questions are being asked as to whether the group stage match is a must-win for the Gunners, whether a draw would be enough given the games still to come and whether a defeat would consign them to the Europa League at best.
But while Wenger will expect his men to beat Marseille at home, he will not want to go into the final match away to Napoli needing a victory.
So in short, as risky as it may sound, Wenger should send his men out with the reminder of last season’s glorious failure and ask them to repeat it, with no fear, just the knowledge that they can beat the best Germany has to offer, so why not beat the second-best, too?
image: © peterfuchs