Bayern Munich v Arsenal: Gunners in disarray as Wojciech Szczesny's mental state is questioned ahead of Champions League tie

Goalkeeper rested and Jack Wilshere out for four weeks with 3-1 deficit to overturn in Munich

Munich

Arsène Wenger's Arsenal squad was last night in a state of disarray ahead of tonight's Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich, which his team trail 3-1 from the first leg, with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny rested and midfielder Jack Wilshere one of a number of key players missing through injury.

The England midfielder is out for as long as four weeks, Wenger said, with an injury to his left foot that the club fear could develop into the kind of stress fracture on his right ankle that meant he missed 17 months up to October. Lukas Podolski and Bacary Sagna, who have ankle injuries, were also not in the travelling party.

As for Szczesny, Wenger said that the Poland goalkeeper was "mentally" affected by having played so many games this season. It pointed towards Wenger signing a more experienced goalkeeper this summer with Szczesny having tested the faith of his manager a number of times this season. Lukasz Fabianski, who may well start tonight, was a surprise inclusion in the squad, as was Andrei Arshavin.

On Szczesny, Wenger said the decision was "to rest him". He added: "He has played many games since the start of the season and recently I felt that mentally it affected him. That is why I have rested him".

Asked why he was leaving his first-choice goalkeeper out of such a high-profile game, Wenger said that it was not an unusual move. "It is his second season only in the Premier League and he has played many games," he said. "Some of our players have played many, many games since the start of the season. That is why you have a big squad and you sometimes rotate the players."

Despite the weakened squad, Wenger denied that he had already given up on Arsenal's chances of turning the tie around. Bayern have lost only two games all season and have conceded three goals just once in their entire campaign.

Wenger said: "It is a difficult task, we know that. We think it is not impossible. The only way to make it possible is to have a real go and play at our best; that is what we will do. I am confident we will be completely focused and up for it, and give it our best shot. Football is football – everything is possible."

Asked whether he was facing an impossible task, Wenger said: "Impossible, no, difficult, yes. It is difficult to say what percentage chance you have, but what is important is that we have big experience in the Champions League, and in Europe we have won everywhere.

"That means we have the right to believe because we have the quality and to turn up just accepting we go out would be absolutely unacceptable, so we want to show we can use our experience and our quality, and have the right belief to do it."

Wilshere has been recuperating in Dubai and the player is now out of contention for England's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro later this month. He sustained the injury against Tottenham, Arsenal's previous game on 3 March. As things stand he is certain to miss the trip to play Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday and potentially the home game against Reading on 30 March.

Wenger said: "I am convinced that if this team can find a big game, with a big win, you will see a completely different animal. This season we have fought to find that in the big games and we have another opportunity [against Bayern] and I hope the team takes this chance.

"I have a great respect for this team and its attitude and they have not been rewarded yet," he added. "It is important for the end to our season that we do it."

 

Follow all the action from tonight's match LIVE by clicking here

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks