Pep Guardiola expecting Arsenal to play long-ball game

Wenger claims Bayern manager wanted to join Gunners in 2001

When Arsene Wenger

does write that book there will surely be a chapter about his near misses in the transfer market. It is likely to be substantial. The Arsenal manager rolled out a little more content here in Munich when he mentioned how Pep Guardiola once eluded him.

The Catalan had called time on his playing career at Barcelona in 2001 and he would head for Brescia in Serie A. But not before Wenger held talks with him.

"He wanted to play with me as a coach," Wenger said before the meeting with Guardiola and Bayern tonight, in what will be a seismic Champions League occasion. "I met him at home when he was 30, 31. He wanted to play for Arsenal. I can't remember why it didn't happen. I had players like [Patrick] Vieira and [Emmanuel] Petit, who were still young then. He showed great personality when we talked. "


There is mutual respect between the managers and there are similarities to their approaches, but there were a couple of moments when Guardiola looked back on the meeting between the teams at the Emirates Stadium two weeks ago.

He speculated on what he might expect in the return and highlighted how Wenger had relied on the long ball.

“Arsenal want to attack and build up but when you press Mertesacker and Koscielny, they don’t want to play,” Guardiola said. “They play long balls to Giroud. Also, if they lose the ball and we make two or three passes, Mertesacker doesn’t want to stay high up, so they go back in their box and defend there. Arsenal will try long balls to Giroud. Cech will not play the ball to defenders, he will try long balls to Giroud. We have to defend well and be ready for that.”

Theo Walcott is one of nine injury absentees for Arsenal at present and so it is likely that even greater onus will fall on Giroud.

Wenger predicted Arsenal would endure "uncomfortable moments" during the game against a team who "will put us under pressure and play attacking football". He name-checked the danger posed by Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben, but he might have mentioned others – Douglas Costa, for example, is in outstanding form.