England man wants side to summon the spirit of their 3-0 win over Manchester United
LONDON: Theo Walcott insists Arsenal will salvage their Champions League campaign against Bayern Munich on Tuesday by emulating their ruthless demolition of Manchester United.
Arsene Wenger’s side are in severe danger of failing to reach the knockout stages for the first time in 16 years after two dismal defeats.
The Gunners were beaten at Dinamo Zagreb and then suffered the embarrassment of losing at home to Olympiakos, leaving them pointless at the bottom of Group F.
Another loss when Bayern visit the Emirates Stadium would put Arsenal on the verge of a stunning exit and the German champions’ imperious form this season makes facing them even more daunting opponents.
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Yet Arsenal go into the crunch clash in good form after winning 3-0 at Watford on Saturday.
England forward Walcott claims the North Londoners will have no reason to fear Bayern if they tear into them with the kind of high-tempo attacking style that led to a 3-0 rout of United earlier this month.
“We just need to move on from the first couple of [European] results, they have happened. We know we are capable of getting results against Bayern Munich and we obviously want to put things right,” said Walcott. “Looking at our last home match against Manchester United, the intensity of our game was different to what it was like against Olympiakos in the Champions League.”
Bayern have won on each of their last two visits to the Emirates en route to knocking out the Gunners in the last 16 in 2013 and 2014 and it would be little surprise to see them inflict another damaging blow.
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Pep Guardiola’s team have won all of their opening nine German league matches — a Bundesliga record — and attackers Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski are in ominous form, having already scored 21 league goals between them.
Walcott acknowledges the magnitude of the task facing Arsenal, but refuses to feel inferior to the swaggering Germans. “Playing against Bayern and their quality is of course going to be a good challenge for us and a difficult game,” he said. “We know we can beat anyone and we are going to be completely ready for this one.”
Although there is less at stake for Bayern, who have won their first two Group F fixtures, Wenger and his players have been warned not to expect an easy ride.
Guardiola says this is Bayern’s “first final” in the competition as the Bundesliga leaders aim for a first Champions League crown under the former Barcelona boss.
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And he concedes time is running out to lift the European title both he and the club craves in the third, and potentially final, year of his current contract. “My time here won’t have been complete if we don’t win the Champions League,” said Guardiola. “I know where I am, so this isn’t a problem for me.”
Barca to take BATE
Barcelona can take a big step towards the knockout stages for the 12th consecutive season when they travel to face BATE Borisov in the cold of Belarus.
The depleted Catalans will again be without Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, but can count on an on-fire Neymar after he smashed four past Rayo Vallecano in a 5-2 win on Saturday.
The Brazil skipper proudly declared his performance against Rayo as one of his best for the club as he left the Camp Nou with the match ball signed by all of his teammates at the weekend.
“Hopefully Neymar doesn’t stop and we have to sign a lot more balls for him,” said midfielder Ivan Rakitic.
Messi scored twice when the sides last met in Belarus four years ago as Barca cruised to a 5-0 win.
However, the impact of injuries to the Argentine, Iniesta and Rafinha, allied to a one-year ban on registering new players has left Barca with a very stretched squad for a run of six games in 19 days.
“We need to recover well, we have a lot of games in a row and that means we are doing well because you are in all competitions,” added Rakitic.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.
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