Arsène Wenger turns biblical as Arsenal face Bayern in Champions League

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Arsène Wenger has turned biblical in his quest for Champions League success after Arsenal drew Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the competition.

The German champions have knocked Arsenal out of European competition in two of the past four seasons and beat them 5-1 in the group stage last year, while the Gunners have failed to progress beyond the first knockout round in each of the past six seasons. But Wenger does not believe his side need a miracle this season, and is instead looking to the book of Genesis for inspiration.

“Look, the last six years we have not come past the last 16,” he said. “They said that God made the world in seven days and this is the seventh day for us! So we have to get a special day.”

To continue the religious analogy, Wenger talked about the “guilt” he feels about previous Champions League performances. “I am responsible for the results so I don’t want to escape when I don’t meet the expectations of people who love this club,” he said. “You feel guilty because you always question yourself first and your decision making. I think that’s completely normal.”

Wenger said that, of the knockout stage defeats, his side’s two-leg reverse against Monaco in 2014-15 season hurt the most. “I feel the year we failed is against Monaco because we wanted to make the difference too much in the first game,” he said.

In the first leg of the tie Arsenal chased the game after going 2-0 down at home. The Gunners scored an injury-time goal through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but then conceded again before the final whistle. Arsenal went on to win the second leg in the principality 2-0, but went out of the tournament on away goals.

“We conceded a third goal in the last minute of the game because even at 2-1 we wanted absolutely to win and we had thrown everything forward,” Wenger said. “That is what we have to show we have learned.”

Wenger is confident that his team can do better this season, hand of God or no hand of God, partly helped by the order of the tie. As a result of winning their qualifying group, Arsenal get to play the second leg against Bayern at home.

“If we can keep our strength away from home that can help us,” he said, with his side unbeaten away from the Emirates Stadium this season. “Let’s have a good first game then we can finish the job at home.

“I must say, though, that the best way to have momentum is to go into the Champions League with a good position in the league. Then the belief is high. And so I am convinced that is absolutely vital.”

The Frenchman finished his thoughts on the draw with a rousing coda. “We are all here to change history. We are here to make history so we have to change what happened before. And make it better.”

Powered by article was written by Paul MacInnes, for The Guardian on Monday 12th December 2016 22.30 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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