Arsenal midfielder planning to play mind games with Bayern Munich

Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta has spoken of the psychological implications of this evening’s clash with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

The 31-year-old Spaniard and Gunners vice-captain has given his view on this evening’s second leg against the European champions in Munich in which the North Londoners will be hopeful of overturning a two-goal deficit suffered in the first leg of the Champions League last sixteen tie.

Recently England manager Roy Hodgson revealed the Three Lions will employ a sports psychologist in Brazil this summer at the World Cup and we have all enjoyed (and suffered) over the years mind games between rival managers but the psychology of players can have a huge impact on the result of a game and a season.

"I'm sure the first thing their manager is going to do is show them the video of last year and warn them," Arteta told Arsenal Player.

It would appear the veteran midfielder is hopeful Bayern Munich will still have last term’s 2-0 defeat at the Allianz fresh in their memory – although the Bavarians still progressed through to the quarterfinals 12 months ago and went on to win the competition, the Gunners indeed gave them a scare on the night after Olivier Giroud scored after just 7 minutes.

"Psychologically it's tricky, those ties are really tricky because if we're able to score one goal then psychologically it becomes a mind game. We can take advantage of that so we want to put the game in our favour as soon as we can and if we're able to do that the game is on,” he added.

This echoes the comments of Arsenal legend Ray Parlour on Monday – the former Arsenal winger believes if the Gunners can get an early goal, it’s game on but, he asserted, if they can’t, the game may not be worth watching in the second half for Arsenal fans.

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place and it is unlikely that Arsenal will be able to replicate their 2-0 win over the Bundesliga champions from this time last year but, as we saw this weekend in the FA Cup, Manchester City were undone in much the same manner as they were last May by Wigan who knocked them out of the domestic cup competition this weekend after beating them in the final last term.

The Champions League knockout rounds are the perfect playground for mind games – the ties are 180 minutes in duration and the games are ordinarily close encounters between the continent’s elite. They become a tactical battlefield, often fought and won in the hearts and minds of the victors.

This was aptly demonstrated by Chelsea’s win against Bayern Munich in the final in 2011/12 in front of the Germans’ home fans in Munich – the longer the game went on, the longer the Blues held on, the more frustrated the hosts became culminating in a loss of belief and spirit – psychologically, Arsenal may well be hoping to use last year’s scare as a scare-tactic to unsettle Bayern and, as Arteta suggests, like last year, an early goal will silence the crowd and create an atmosphere of tension and doubt.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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