Pep Guardiola assesses Arsenal’s quality and gives his verdict on Mesut Ozil
15:37 10 March 2014
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Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola intends to prepare his free-scoring side to face an Arsenal team ready to bring their own best form to the Allianz Arena.
The Germans warmed up for the second leg of the last 16 Champions League tie, in which they hold a 2-0 advantage, with a 6-1 triumph at Wolfsburg to move some 20 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga standings.
Arsenal, meanwhile, will be looking to take confidence from Saturday’s 4-1 FA Cup quarter-final win over Everton, and Guardiola is all too aware of the threat the Gunners can pose when firing on all cylinders.
“The quality is there,” said the former Barcelona coach, acknowledging the impressive 2-0 win for Arsene Wenger’s men in Bavaria last season, which saw them go out on away goals only.
“When I analyse Arsenal and the first game (last month), we saw the quality of (Santi) Cazorla, we saw what happened until the (early) penalty (Mesut) Ozil missed, what happened in the first nine minutes they were the nine minutes in this season when the opponent was better against us. They remain a good club, a good team.”
Guardiola added: “They can create two or three really great chances in two or three minutes. If you play in a really good team like Arsenal and are 2-0 down, anything is possible.
“People think ‘2-0 you don’t have a chance in Munich’, but that’s the main problem for us.
“They have (Per) Mertesacker, (Tomas) Rosicky, (Kieran) Gibbs, (Mikel) Arteta a lot of very good players.
“I do not want to see Ozil controls the game. That will be a big problem for us.
“This is not an easy game. We have to attack, give our best, be aggressive without the ball.”
The penalty save by Manuel Neuer from his Germany team-mate Ozil seemed to suck the life out of the Emirates Stadium home support, with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny soon sent off before second-half goals from Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller put the Bundesliga side in control of the tie.
Ozil was given some time away after picking up a dead leg, but returned to form when he scored the first goal in the win over Everton and had a hand in two more.
Guardiola feels the German playmaker can continue to grow in his new environment following a £42.5million switch from Real Madrid on deadline day in September 2013.
“I never played in England, or trained a team (there), so I don’t know how difficult (it is), but I can imagine how difficult it is (for Ozil) to play every three games in November, December, January,” Guardiola said.
“But this is one game, it is a final, Arsenal know that, Ozil knows that.
“For one game, the player puts in everything.
“From my experience, I expect the performance from the opponents. Ozil will give the best performance and we have to be prepared.”
Guardiola believes possession will be key to subduing Arsenal’s forward supply line.
“We have to make sure we have the ball, that we really attack well and go through to the next phase,” he said.
“They have a lot of quality, so we have to make sure we have a lot of possession.
“We have to make sure they do not score a goal.
“We have to have that offensive idea and to play with the type of mentality that we win, otherwise we will have a problem.”
Guardiola insisted there can be no complacency from his players.
“Winning 2-0 in London was a very good result for us, but it is also dangerous,” he added.
“We have a very good chance to go through, but we have to be in the situation that we really focus on the game.
“We have to bring our ideas across in the way we play, and know what the strengths are.
“The Champions League is a huge game for us, it is not like a day-to-day game in the Bundesliga.
“We have to do our best.”