Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can use their march into the FA Cup semi-finals as a springboard to mount a near-superhuman comeback in their Champions League tie at Bayern Munich tomorrow.
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 ahead of the far more daunting task of trying to overturn a 2-0 deficit in their last-16 second-leg clash with reigning European champions Bayern in German giants’ backyard.
“It was important for us to win on a psychological front for a good mind,” Wenger said. “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 at the Allianz Arena at the same stage of the competition last season, but still bowed out on away goals, face an uphill task to keep their European hopes alive as their Premier League title charge appears to be fading. Yet Saturday’s FA Cup success means they are at least still on course to end their nine-year trophy drought.
On Saturday, Mesut Ozil’s early opener against Everton was canceled out by Romelu Lukaku, but there was no way back for the Merseyside club once Mikel Arteta converted a penalty against his old club and substitute Olivier Giroud added the gloss to the win with two goals.
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 country’s supporters in their friendly win over Chile last week. However, during Saturday’s drubbing, he snapped a three-month goal drought and turned in an improved display, suggesting that he has turned the corner.
“It’s important for him as you want him to take his chances,” Wenger said “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.