Monday, 17 February 2014

Mathieu Flamini convinced Arsenal can knock out holders Bayern Munich

Mathieu Flamini claims Arsenal have "big ambitions" for the remainder of this season as they turn their attention to a last-16 UEFA Champions League showdown with defending champions Bayern Munich.

Pep Guardiola's Bayern arrive at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night for the first leg of their knockout-stage clash and Flamini insists the Gunners are ready to do everything in their power to qualify.
Arsenal were eliminated from the Champions League by Bayern at this stage last term and the German giants, who are currently 16 points clear at the Bundesliga summit, are considered by many to be even stronger under the tutelage of Guardiola.Continue...

The North Londoners warmed up for their European clash by beating Liverpool 2-1 to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals and although Arsene Wenger made seven changes for Sunday's game, Flamini is adamant Arsenal have the quality to advance in Europe, too.
"We know it won't be an easy game because Bayern are a very strong team, but we are Arsenal, we have big ambitions," he told the London Evening Standard.
"If we want to qualify, we have to get a good result against Bayern.
"What I will say about this season is that I see a great commitment, I see everyone working very hard on the pitch and helping each other."

Solidarity

Flamini, who joined the Gunners in 2004 before a five-year spell in Serie A with AC Milan between 2008 and 2013, believes the spirit of unity displayed by Arsenal as they repelled a gutsy second-half comeback from Liverpool echoes that experienced during his first spell with the club.
The Frenchman said: "I think it is what we had during my first spell here and we won the FA Cup in 2005, because against Liverpool it was a difficult game, from the first to the last minute everyone worked very hard, even the players playing up front," he added.

"We asked them to defend and to help the team and they did it very well, which is very important for us. It was important to show some character on the pitch, some solidarity.
"This year, Arsenal have a lot of ambition and are fighting for the league title. We have qualified in the FA Cup and we will do everything to qualify in the Champions League.
"We know it will be a difficult game and now it is important to recover very well because we had so many games. Today, we will start thinking about Bayern."
Commitment
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski gave the Gunners a two-goal lead before a Steven Gerrard penalty set up a tense finish to a game which will undoubtedly be remembered for its controversy rather than flair.

The visitors were also convinced they should have been awarded a second spot-kick by referee Howard Webb when Oxlade-Chamberlain appeared to foul Luis Suarez, while Arsenal could claim Liverpool skipper Gerrard warranted a second yellow card as tempers flared late on.
Although not a show-stopping performance from Arsenal, Flamini believes grinding out results like that against Liverpool defies the critics that suggested Wenger's side lacked steel.
"I think the commitment this year is very important, it is very good," Flamini said. "We have a collective of players and we need everyone because we want to win a trophy.
"We have had difficult games this year and when we have had to fight and compete in these games, we have done so.
"We have had a lot of victories away from home (eight in the Premier League) and that is very positive for us."


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