Mikel Arteta refuses to answer ‘great question’ ahead of Bayern clash

News Desk
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks on before a game.
Mikel Arteta looks on before a game.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is braced for Bayern Munich setting aside their Bundesliga struggles to produce their best possible performance in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The six-time European champions have endured a disappointing domestic campaign and travel to Emirates Stadium for Tuesday’s first leg on the cusp of relinquishing the German title for the first time in 12 years.

Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel is poised to depart his role at the end of the season, with his team currently 16 points adrift of leaders Bayer Leverkusen following four defeats in their last eight league outings.

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Asked if the opposition’s poor form was relevant to the European tie, Arteta replied: “From my side, no.

“It’s something we have no say in, no control of. We just expect all the time the best from your opponent.

“Against Bayern, against any opponent, regardless of where they are you always have to expect that they play in their best possible way and be prepared to out perform them.

“Football is such a competitive environment and difficult to be consistent that this can happen to anybody.

“They are a top team. I am a big admirer of Thomas: his teams, the way they set up, the way they play, what they transmit.

“We have to take our game where we want it and if we do that we’ll have a chance to win.”

German champions-elect Leverkusen – managed by Xabi Alonso – thumped Bayern 3-0 in February en route to building their runaway lead.

Spaniard Arteta was coy on whether he had approached compatriot Alonso for advice on how to defeat the Bavarian club.

“Great question but I’m not going to answer that,” he replied with a smile.

Arteta is relishing the pivotal final weeks of the season, with his Premier League leaders chasing a domestic and European double.

The Gunners have not played at this stage of the Champions League since the 2009-10 season and were hammered 5-1 on each of their previous three meetings with Bayern, in 2015 and both legs of a 2017 last-16 tie.

Arteta, who was a non-playing member of Arsene Wenger’s squad for the first of those thrashings, has little interest in dwelling on the past as he strives for silverware.

“It’s irrelevant, we just focus on the performance that we have to put in to beat a top and exceptional team with exceptional individuals,” he said.

“We have to earn every right to try to make it happen.

“We haven’t been in this position for 14 years. For this club it’s a long, long time and we realise that and that’s why we have this hunger and desire to make it happen.

“This is where we want to be. We are in a really good position in the Premier League and we’re in a really good position in the Champions League.

“We have a big task ahead of us against one of the most successful clubs in Europe. That’s the hurdle we have to overcome and we’re looking forward to it.”

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