Sport | Football

Ramsey warns Arsenal ahead of Bayern clash

Munich defender Van Buyten calls Gunners ‘one of the best teams in Europe’

  • AFP
  • Published: 13:35 February 18, 2013
  • Gulf News

London: Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has urged his team to learn from their previous mistakes as they bid to resurrect a stuttering season against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

The prospect of an eighth consecutive season without silverware swam sharply into focus at the weekend when Arsenal were eliminated from the FA Cup by second-tier Blackburn Rovers.

With Arsenal having already gone out of the League Cup to fourth-division Bradford City and with a 21-point deficit to make up on leaders Manchester United in the Premier League, it leaves the Champions League as the London club’s only viable shot at a trophy.

Arsenal’s last two experiences of the round of 16 have ended in disappointment, with a 4-3 aggregate defeat by Barcelona in 2011 followed by a loss to AC Milan by the same scoreline last year.

The 2006 finalists’ hopes of European glory last season were crushed in a 4-0 first-leg loss in Milan, and Ramsey says his side cannot afford to let the tie with Bayern get away from them.

“Of course Bayern will be a tough game, but we are confident that on our day we can give anybody a good match,” he said.

“We will all have to be switched on on the night.”

It was a different story in the previous campaign, when Arsenal beat Barca 2-1 in the home leg, only to go down 3-1 at Camp Nou, and Ramsey says a similarly positive first-leg performance will be required on Tuesday.

“We put ourselves in a good position against Barcelona, but unfortunately did not take it into the second leg,” said the Welshman.

“Then, against AC Milan it was a big mountain to climb, which we nearly did at home (by winning 3-0).

“Hopefully this time we can get in another strong position in the first leg, and I am sure we will be more experienced about what to do in the away leg.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he will not have any trouble motivating his players after Saturday’s shock 1-0 loss to Blackburn at the Emirates Stadium.

“It is not difficult at all. It is our job,” the Frenchman said.

“If we feel sorry for ourselves, we would be completely wrong. We have a massive game on Tuesday night and we have to show that we have some response in the team.”

Last year’s beaten Champions League finalists, Bayern already seem certain to end a three-year wait for major silverware due to their sensational form in the domestic arena.

A gritty 2-0 win at Wolfsburg on Friday was their 10th victory away from home this season and allowed them to preserve a mammoth 15-point lead over defending champions Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

Bayern have failed to go beyond the last 16 only once in the past four seasons, and prevailed 3-2 on aggregate when they last met Arsenal in the round of 16 in the 2004-05 campaign.

Bayern are yet to concede a goal in 2013, but despite the stark contrast between their imperious recent record and Arsenal’s struggles, Belgian centre-back Daniel Van Buyten anticipates a stern test.

“Arsenal are one of the best teams in Europe,” he told the official Bayern website.

“They have tremendous potential in attack, they have very strong individual players and a very good team. But we also have quality and want to show it on the pitch. It will be a good game.”

He added: “I’ve got butterflies, but that is normal for every player, I think. Champions League games are just something special and even more so against an English club. We are all looking forward to it.”

Wenger can take heart from Arsenal’s excellent home record against German clubs.

In 12 previous encounters with representatives from the Bundesliga, Arsenal have won nine, drawn one, and lost only two, while Bayern have won just twice in 15 previous away games against teams from England.

Gulf News
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