LONDON • Arsene Wenger has expressed confidence that Arsenal have the defensive quality and mental strength required to keep Robert Lewandowski quiet in today's Champions League tie against Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium.
The Poland striker has scored an extraordinary 22 goals in 16 appearances for club and country this season, helping Bayern win their last 12 matches in succession.
Arsenal need a win today to keep control of their destiny in Group F after losing their opening two fixtures to Dynamo Zagreb and Olympiakos, but Wenger appeared unconcerned by their plight.
The Frenchman is backing Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny to becalm Lewandowski, and is taking inspiration from Arsenal's 2-0 win at the Allianz Arena two years ago, even though it saw them eliminated on away goals.
"Lewandowski has done really well for the last few years and obviously at the beginning of this season, he's scored a lot of goals," Wenger said. "But we have some quality defenders who are more than capable of taking care of that, and hopefully we can on the night."
Arsenal will also be banking on their own red-hot marksman Alexis Sanchez to continue his fine run of form to give them the edge after the Chilean forward took his tally to 10 goals in six matches with a strike against Watford on Saturday.
Wenger conceded that Bayern are the best team in the world after they opened the season with nine successive victories in the Bundesliga and won their opening two group games in the Champions League without conceding a goal.
But the Frenchman believes his team have the right confidence levels after their run of impressive results in the Premier League, including a 3-0 win over Manchester United and an identical victory over the Hornets.
"It is true that (we have delivered big results) before, but we want to do it again because we feel a bit that the pain inflicted (in the Champions League) was a bit by ourselves," said Wenger, who confirmed that Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina, who was surprisingly picked ahead of Petr Cech against Olympiakos and conceded an own goal in the 3-2 defeat, is injured and will not be available.
"Maybe subconsciously we thought, 'Anyway we will win these (first two games)'.
"Now to correct that, we need a great performance. The confidence level is there, we know exactly what is required (because) a 0-0 is not even a good result.
"To score goals, we have to attack."
The Gunners will have to be at their best again against an in-form Bayern side, who won 3-1 in London in February 2013 and 2-0 there a year later. In four Champions League visits since December 2000, Bayern have lost only once, in March 2005, though they still won that round-of-16 tie 3-2 on aggregate.
They now come back in stellar form, having beaten Werder Bremen 1-0 on Saturday, their 12th successive win in all competitions.
Despite already having several injured players, including defenders Medhi Benatia and Holger Badstuber, as well as Franck Ribery and Mario Goetze, coach Pep Guardiola rested Douglas Costa and Javi Martinez ahead of the trip to London.
Winger Arjen Robben failed to recover from a groin injury in time to depart with the team on Sunday.
"It won't be an easy task there but we are well prepared," captain Philipp Lahm said of the match.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS
ARSENAL V BAYERN MUNICH
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