• Arsenal v Bayern Munich, Champions League

Arteta calls for quick start from Arsenal

ESPN staff
February 19, 2013
Mikel Arteta is full of praise for the impact of Jack WIlshere on his return from injury © Getty Images

Mikel Arteta has called on his Arsenal team-mates to break the habit of a season and start strongly in their Champions League tie against Bayern Munich at the Emirates.

The Gunners head into the first leg of their last-16 showdown just days after their shock FA Cup exit to Blackburn, and while they find themselves in a fight for a top-four berth in the Premier League their opponents arrive in London in ominous form.

Bayern are 15 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, and have won all five of their matches since returning from the winter break, keeping seven clean sheets in their previous eight games.

If Arsenal have been guilty of showing their opponents too much respect in the opening exchanges so far this season, Arteta believes that has to change - starting with what has become their biggest game of the season.

"The last few big games we missed the first 20-25 minutes and then gave the opposition probably too much respect," Arteta said. "We want to face a different scenario with Bayern and get into the game show that we want to win it.

"The table of the Premier League of first and second 45 minutes is very different. That shows our qualities are very good, because when teams tire a little bit we are able to [score], but also that we are not ready from the off to do what we want right from the start."

With pressure building on Arsene Wenger and his side, Arteta knows the best tonic would be a top European scalp and progress in Europe's elite club competition.

"It gives you extra motivation because you are facing top players and a top club and you want to show how good you are against them," he added. "We have a great test now and we want to face that with the maximum desire and a positivity around the squad and go out there and win it."

Arsenal player to watch: Arteta was full of praise for his midfield partner Jack Wilshere, whose combative displays have bolstered the Gunners' midfield since his return from injury. "Jack has been showing his class and been tremendous," Arteta said. "But we don't want to put too much pressure on him."

Bayern Munich player to watch: Mario Mandzukic arrived at Munich as cover for Mario Gomez, but has been in sensational form. The Croatia international has bagged 15 goals in 19 league matches, and will be looking to find that form in the Champions League knockout stages.

Betting: Whether or not Arsenal get out of the blocks quickly, Bayern are irresistible at the moment. Brave punters can take the Germans to trail at half-time and still take a lead back to the Allianz Arena at 22/1 with bet365.

Prediction: 1-2

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.