By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Pep Guardiola has claimed Arsenal reverted to being a defensive long ball team in the opening clash against Bayern Munich.
Guardiola says Arsene Wenger abandoned his “footballing DNA” in their first Champions League match a fortnight ago by hitting high balls up to Olivier Giroud and then packing the defence.
The Bayern boss believes the Gunners’ experienced centre-back duo Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker will struggle under pressure in the Allianz Arena.
Guardiola said: “We managed to play the ball behind them and tried to make them play high balls to Giroud up front. After that to attack against 9 or 10 players inside their own box is not easy.
“They want to attack and build up but when you press Mertesacker or Koscielny they don’t want to play. They play long balls to Giroud.
“Arsenal want to play, it’s in their DNA. But the other way is to sit back, defend and run. Everyone can do that – also Bayern. But I spoke to the players and I want us to try to attack even when there are 10 players there defending.”
The Gunners are pitted against Bayern at the Allianz Arena tomorrow as they attempt to follow up their landmark2-0 win at Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago with another result that will boost their Champions League campaign.
Arsenal lost their opening two European matches against Dynamo Zagreb and Olympiakos and their hopes of progression to the knockout stages remain on a knife-edge.
Wenger, who admitted he nearly signed Guardiola as a player, said: “We didn’t want to only defend. When Guardiola says that, we didn’t only want to defend but we organised ourselves to defend well in certain situations.
“When Bayern dominate we have to focus. So we changed and played on the counter. We had two weapons, on the counter with Walcott and a bit more direct with Giroud. It worked in the end.@