On Monday evening in Munich, manager Arsene Wenger and midfielder Mikel Arteta faced the media at the pre-match press conference.
Wenger: "History is important in our belief. We know we can do it, because we have already done it." #BAYvAFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 10, 2014
Wenger: "It is a possible task, that is the most important thing. My team has quality and ambition." #BAYvAFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 10, 2014
With Laurent Koscielny recovered from his own injury and available, plus the possibility of Thomas Vermaelen at left-back, the Gunners still retain a solid base from which to build.
It will be Koscielny's partnership with Per Mertesacker that will be crucial for Arsenal retaining a foothold in the tie during the early stages of the game.
As Squawka.com details, the performance stats of both players are comfortably the best in the entire Arsenal squad.
Arsene Wenger will certainly need his two defensive generals to be on top of their game against a side that has scored 26 goals in their last six games and have won 25 out of their last 26 in all competitions, per WhoScored.com.
Interestingly, the only game in that run where Bayern have failed to take the points was in the Champions League—against English opposition.
Manchester City's 3-2 win wasn't a fluke either. Manuel Pellegrini's side took the game to their hosts and fully deserved to leave with a win that was perhaps unexpected outside of the confines of the Etihad Stadium.
The Gunners too have often shown that they are at their very best with their backs against the wall, when they have been all but written off.
Wenger recalled their astonishing win against Inter Milan by way of example, as reported by Arsenal's Twitter feed:
Wenger: "The statistics are against us, but we have won 5-1 at Inter, we have won everywhere in Europe." #BAYvAFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 10, 2014
It was put to him by reporters that in fact Arsenal had little hope of winning the tournament, and according to Rob Kelly of Arsenal.com, whilst stopping short of writing off his own sides hopes, Wenger said:
The danger now is that in Europe you might have a two-tier European Cup. You have eight to 10 clubs who can win the European Cup and the rest have no chance.
Bayern are a special team, I don’t deny that, but they are in a huge dominating situation in Europe. They can play who they want the week before the game in Europe, and they win 3-1 or 4-1.
It was obviously a thinly veiled dig at the English Football Association, who continue to schedule high-pressure matches before the big European games. For example, this past weekend, Arsenal were involved in a fairly gruelling and important FA Cup quarter-final against Everton.
By contrast, Bayern were enjoying a 6-1 cakewalk against Wolfsburg.
Wenger seemed tense and more than a little defensive.
James Olley, the Evening Standard's Chief Football Correspondent, noted via Twitter another sly dig from Wenger, this one aimed at UEFA:
Wenger questions how Arsenal have gone out of Europe in recent seasons and claims number of red cards is "suspicious".— James Olley (@JamesOlley) March 10, 2014
Supporters also picked up on his other comment concerning fairness:
Playing such mind games (Jose Mourinho would be proud) are not usually the Arsenal manager's forte. And his comments won't have gone unnoticed in the corridors of power.
Perhaps he has a point.
In concluding the press conference, Wenger stated the blindingly obvious:
Wenger: "We have had a few good nights in Europe but [if we win tomorrow] it would be absolutely great."— AIS INDRAMAYU (@AIS_IMY) March 10, 2014
If Arsenal do indeed take the tie, it won't just be "absolutely great." It will rank amongst the best results the club has ever had.