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24 April 2024

Wenger prepares Arsenal for greatest Champions League comeback ever

Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger gestures during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at the Emirates stadium in North London on August 17, 2013. Aston Villa won 3-1. (AFP)

By Agencies

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can use their march into the FA Cup semi-finals as a springboard for a great escape in their Champions League tie at Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Wenger's side cruised into the last four of the FA Cup for the first time since 2009 thanks to their 4-1 win over Everton on Saturday.

That stroll in the spring sunshine in north London should serve as a morale-booster before the far more daunting task of taking on reigning European champions Bayern in their own backyard.

Arsenal need to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the last-16 second-leg tie in Germany and Wenger said: "It was important for us to win on a psychological front for a good mind.

"We can be inspired by our focus of the day and we need that same desire to go to Bayern with the same spirit.

"The statistics are against us going to Bayern. But we have to make sure the performance goes for us."

Arsenal, who beat Bayern in Munich at the same stage of the competition last season but still bowed out on away goals, face an uphill task to keep alive their European hopes and their Premier League title charge appears to be fading.

But Saturday's FA Cup success means they do at least remain on course to end their nine-year trophy drought.

Mesut Ozil's early opener against Everton was cancelled out by Romelu Lukaku.

But there was no way back for the Merseysiders once Mikel Arteta converted a penalty against his old club before substitute Olivier Giroud added the gloss to the win late on with two goals.

"We are in the semi-final and we have always taken this competition seriously," added Wenger.

"We had a good FA Cup draw in the fact we had games at home, but we played difficult opponents in Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton so it shows we have taken this seriously."

Wenger reserved praise for Ozil, who will return to Germany with a point to prove.

Arsenal's record-signing has struggled since the turn of the year and was even jeered by his own country's supporters in their friendly win over Chile last week.

But he ended his three-month goal drought and turned in an improved display which suggests he has turned the corner.

"It's important for him as you want him to take his chances," added Wenger. "He always looks for a good pass.

"What I liked from him is he looked physically regenerated and he did a lot of dirty work. He tracked back with long runs."

Everton's best chance this season now lies in winning a spot in the Europa League and Roberto Martinez, who won the FA Cup with Wigan last season, won't let his players go through the motions in the run-in.

"You know it's going to be a difficult task coming to Arsenal," Martinez said.

"If anything this leaves us more focused on what is in front of us.

"There's 33 points left and that's a huge amount. We focus on the 11 games we have so we can finish as strongly as we can.

"We have good competition for places and we want to get as many points as we can.

"I don't like losing in the FA Cup. It's something you don't want to experience and we will try again next season."