LONDON (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his side can end an eight-year trophy drought by capturing European club football’s greatest prize if they knock Bayern Munich out of the Champions League.
The Gunners face the German giants in the first leg of their last 16 clash at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, a match that follows hot on the heels of their FA Cup fifth round tie at home to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Bayern lost last season’s Champions League final to Chelsea and are currently 15 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, having not lost since October 28.
They have also returned from German football’s winter break with four straight league wins.
Arsenal, by contrast, are a massive 21 points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester United and their defence coninues to look vulnerable.
However, an upbeat Wenger said Friday: “We have a big game on Tuesday against Bayern. If we get past them, then why should we not go further and win it?”
“It looks at the start that (winning) the FA Cup is more reachable than any other competition, but you don’t really know how difficult it will be.
“If you compare it to the Premier League certainly, we have more chances to do it because we are too far away in the Premier League,” added Wenger, looking to bring sileverware to Arsenal for the first time since the north London club won the FA Cup in 2005.
Meanwhile the French manager insisted the excitement generated by their upcoming Champions League tie would mean no loss of concentration for Arsenal in a match against second-tier Rovers that will take the winners into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
“The FA Cup is an important target for us,” said Wenger.
“We always take it very seriously, we’re on a good run and we want to continue the run,” added Wenger, whose side have closed the gap on the Premier League top four after back-to-back victories.
“We are the favourites, they’re the outsiders, and have nothing to lose.
“However, if you look at who is in the squad, many of their players have Premier League experience, that is why they are dangerous.”
Arsenal have fitness concerns over England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who went off at Sunderland last week as a because of concerns over a thigh problem.
Wenger said: “I will not take a risk. (That is because of) the rest of the season in mind and what happened to him before.”
Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen should be back from his ankle problem, but fellow defender Laurent Koscielny (calf) will be assessed.
Meanwhile Gervinho could return to Arsenal duty following the Ivory Coast forward’s time at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“We will play a team who has a good chance to go through with experienced players,” said Wenger. “We only have big names in our squad, so it will be a team of big names, for sure.