Search

Why Arsenal boss must sacrifice Munich dream and focus on FA Cup

12:16 03 March 2014

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain challenges Bayern's Philipp Lahm

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain challenges Bayern's Philipp Lahm

Archant

Arsene Wenger will no doubt be exhorting his troops to believe they can achieve the impossible again when they head to Bavaria next week.

Arsenal, of course, were trailing by two goals after the first leg of their Champions League tie with Bayern Munich a year ago – and gave the Germans an almighty scare by winning 2-0 in the Allianz Arena.

The fact that the Gunners still departed the competition on away goals, while Bayern went on to achieve European supremacy, is perhaps often overshadowed by their heroic effort in that second leg, restoring honour and going down in a blaze of glory.

This time, there are compelling grounds to think that a repeat scenario might yet be possible.

Arsenal’s impressive, high-tempo performance until they lost goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to a red card just before half-time, for instance, offers cause for optimism.

Then there is the fact that the Gunners have already triumphed away to last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund – and also that Bayern lost at home to English opposition, Manchester City, in the group stage.

On the other hand, it is impossible to ignore the extent to which Bayern dominated the second half at the Emirates as Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze and Rafinha stroked the ball around with ease, albeit against 10 men.

Even if Wenger can seriously envisage lightning striking twice, it must be a struggle for even the most optimistic Arsenal supporter to do so.

The question the Frenchman must now ponder is how best to approach the second leg on March 11, given that it comes just three days after Everton visit the Emirates in the last eight of the FA Cup.

Wenger fielded a weakened side in the last round against Liverpool and was perhaps fortunate to get away with that gamble. But surely it would be asking for trouble to repeat the tactic against their neighbours.

One of Wenger’s predecessors as Arsenal manager, George Graham, has made it clear that he favours resting players for the Bayern tie ahead of a testing league schedule that pits the Gunners against Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City in quick succession.

Graham told the BBC: “One of the questions facing Arsene is whether they play their best team and try to win the tie, which is near impossible, or concentrate on the league.

“Personally I’d play a weakened team because I think the second half of the first leg was like a practice match for Bayern.

“It took a lot out of Arsenal and they have some very tough games coming up. They need fresh legs and fresh minds and this is one of the big decisions managers have to make.”

Graham is absolutely right and, although he did not allude to the Everton tie, that too must be given greater priority than the trip to Munich.

Whether Wenger likes it or not, the supporters are desperate for a trophy – and most would gladly forgo a Champions League tie that looks lost to maintain their hopes of lifting the FA Cup in May.

The Premier League title would, of course, be a greater prize. But Arsenal have at least made a genuine challenge for the crown this season and that, after failing to do so in recent years, represents progress in itself.

It goes against the grain for Wenger to abandon his dream of conquering Europe for another year. But he needs to do so if Arsenal are to make this season a memorable one.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

41 minutes ago

Stevie Eskinazi admits it may be hard to top the satisfaction of helping Middlesex to County Championship glory in the rest of his career.

Harry Winks believes Mauricio Pochettino’s philosophy is ideally suited to his talents – and he is itching to get more opportunities to play alongside Tottenham’s internationals.

Hampstead are setting the early pace at the top of London Division Two North-West – and head coach Peter Breen believes his side will hit another gear if they can maintain their momentum for the next fortnight.

Yesterday, 17:10

Teenage speedster Brandon Abraham narrowly missed out on his third Rookie Trophy in the final race of the British Super One Series.

Yesterday, 17:05

While most cricket fans inside Lord’s and beyond were entranced by the exciting spectacle that unfolded on Friday, there were also some voicing outrage.

Yesterday, 16:30

Wingate & Finchley came from behind to beat Kingstonian 2-1 at home on Tuesday, securing their third league win from four games and establishing themselves in the top half of the Ryman League Premier Division table.

Yesterday, 15:33

UCS Old Boys suffered a late defeat to Saracens Amateurs, who scored a decisive penalty with the final kick to run out 17-14 winners in Saturday’s Herts/Middlesex Division One clash.

Yesterday, 15:25

Three Haringey Police boxers have made it through to the finals of the London Development Championships, which are taking place this Sunday.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Interested in purchasing a flat and want to know the rules, rights and regulations as a leaseholder? Or maybe you are already a leaseholder and want to find out more about extending your lease?

Scores of people visited the opening of Composite Door Master’s first public showroom in Hayes at the weekend, where they were treated to a spectacular show by award winning magician, Marc Oberon.

You’ve got cash, you’ve got style and you’ve got a bursting social calendar, but no time. These Crouch End studio suites to rent could be your dream come true.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

As we grow older it becomes more and more important to have means to travel about safely and quickly. Our friendship groups and families grow and the need to have a car that is not only safe but also fast and big enough for all our needs is ever more important. There are many cars on the market for such needs but none deals with them as efficiently or as neatly as a VW Golf Estate. These cars are build strong, long lasting and spacious for a reason. They cater to the needs of many and are some of the most popular cars currently on the market.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now