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Wenger tells ref to stand tall

Having felt aggrieved at the manner in which his Arsenal side surrendered the first leg, Arsene Wenger has called on the Norwegian referee Svein Oddvar Moen to be vigilant in tonight's Champions League encounter with Bayern Munich.

WATCHFUL EYE: Wenger was angered by the manner in which Wojciech Szczesny was dismissed in the first leg. Picture:  Getty
WATCHFUL EYE: Wenger was angered by the manner in which Wojciech Szczesny was dismissed in the first leg. Picture: Getty

The Frenchman takes his side to the Allianz Arena looking to overturn a 2-0 deficit from last month's first leg in which his goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for a professional foul on Arjen Robben.

Wenger was of the opinion that the Dutchman, no stranger to theatrics, had made the most of Szczesny's challenge and accused him of using his experience to earn the penalty which led to the Pole's dismissal and which, by extension, handed the initiative to the German champions.

It particularly smarts for Wenger since he has often felt his time has been on the receiving end of dubious call in Europe's elite competition. He watched his side play most of the 2006 Champions League final with 10 men, and two season's ago had his striker Robin van Persie sent off against Barcelona in Camp Nou.

Mikel Arteta was dismissed in the last group game of the current campaign away to Napoli - a subsequent defeat which meant Arsenal finished runners-up and so were drawn against the holders.

The Arsenal manager hopes history does not repeat itself tomorrow night.

"We have played a few times with 10 men in Europe and always under very special circumstances - in the Champions League final, now against Bayern," Wenger said following his side's first training session in Munich.

"When we played at Barcelona when we were in a position to qualify, it was a second yellow card and the only time I have seen that since I [have] watched European football, when [Robin] van Persie was sent off [for kicking the ball away], so I hope tomorrow we get a fair chance to play with 11 against 11 until the end."

Wenger's Manchester City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini was given a two-match touchline ban by UEFA for claiming that the Swedish official Jonas Eriksson was "not impartial to both teams" after the 2-0 home defeat by Barcelona but the Arsenal manager believes match officials at this level should be able to handle the occasion.

"What we want is a good referee and the closer they are to the tough leagues, the more chances they have to detect the tricks that can decide the game. But that is the same for Bayern, because I talk about my players and the Bayern players. What I mean sometimes is that when you come from a league that is less pacy . . . I don't know.

"Honestly, I never look at the referee before the game. I never have any preconceived ideas. Sometimes when referees have big experience it helps them get out of tricky situations.

Aside from perceived injustices over officiating, Wenger is of the opionion that his side can still overturn the two-goal deficit having beaten Bayern 2-0 on their own patch in last season's competition.

"History is important in your belief. We have done it before, so we know we can do it because we have done it," said Wenger, who will without Szczesny and the full-back Kieran Gibbs, who has a calf injury.

"It is a possible task, that is the most important for us. "I believe my team has quality and ambition, and I believe do we produce a top level performance, then we can do it.

To that end Pep Guardiola is taking no chances. The Germans warmed up for the second leg with a 6-1 triumph at Wolfsburg to move 20 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga standings but Guardiola is well aware of the threat the Londoners pose when at the top of their game.

"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. Winning 2-0 in London was a very good result for us, but it is also dangerous."

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