Arsenal star sends out defiant Champions League message

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Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker believes that his side are capable of coping with a Bayern Munich side he feels is significantly stronger than the one the Gunners faced last year, telling the club's official website that they must "destroy" their opponent's ability to retain possession as a top priority.

Bayern edged the Gunners on away goals at the same stage last season, with a 3-1 win at the Emirates in the first leg forming the basis for a run towards Champions League glory.

Arsenal have regrouped since that disappointment and according to Mertesacker are relishing their chance to exact revenge in a last 16 rematch this season, with the German giant insisting that they now have the inner strength to match Bayern over 180 minutes after gaining confidence from their 2-0 win at the Allianz Arena last term.

Mertesacker told Arsenalplayer: "Bayern were very strong last year, they achieved everything, they got the treble and were very sharp and almost the perfect team. But with Guardiola in charge, they look even sharper.

"Can we cope with that possession, can we cope with their qualities? They don’t just have 11 players, they have nearly two teams who can compete on a Champions League level, so they are the toughest opponent you can get in Europe.

“We know their players quite well so that will be interesting for us. We know each other but we need to think about our team shape and how we can destroy their possession.”

Arsene Wenger's side may be up against it tomorrow night but should be buoyed by their efforts last weekend, claiming revenge against Liverpool in an FA Cup fifth round clash thanks to strikes from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski.

Revenge will also be the order of the day over two legs against Bayern, although Pep Guardiola's side do arrive at the Emirates fresh from extending their incredible unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to 46 matches last Saturday with a 4-0 win over Freiburg.

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Bayern Munich
Per Mertesacker
UEFA Champions League

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