Victory Through Harmony: Tonight The Club Motto Has Never Been More Important

A victory against Bayern is essential to help the club overcome its recent fractures and to do this not only must Arsenal play as a unit rather than the team of strangers that faced Blackburn but fans and manager must all pull together.
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A victory against Bayern is essential to help the club overcome its recent fractures and to do this not only must Arsenal play as a unit rather than the team of strangers that faced Blackburn but fans and manager must all pull together.


In the run-up to Arsenal's Champions League show-down with German colossus Bayern Munich, it seems to be The Gunners against the world. Arsene Wenger's press conference pretty much confirmed that, with the Frenchman coming out fighting to the press - or cracking, depending on which section of the Arsenal fan-base you ask.

Either way, whether he genuinely lost it or was looking to have an effect on his players, the furious show that Wenger put on for the journalists could well inspire his players. The siege mentality has suited many a manager before, and this could be another case of it. Intentionally or not, Arsene Wenger deflected the attention away from his players and onto himself.

Now the players owe it to him to perform. In a more composed interview, Wenger reiterated that he believed his team have quality, and that's surely true. Santi Cazorla's quality is impossible to doubt, and while he's struggled with consistency; that's not unlike many players new to the Premier League. Olivier Giroud is becoming more and more important to the Gunners. Lukas Podolski is the stereotypically efficient German. Theo Walcott is maturing into a fine player. Jack Wilshere is a special talent who is blossoming into the world class player that everyone at the club knew that he would be.

But at Arsenal, it's so much more than the individual players. Team chemistry is king, and their best teams have been cohesive units - the 'Invincibles' may have had the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, but they were a team of players on the same wavelength, by virtue of having played together for a few years.

Arsenal's current side have had nowhere near as much time to get to know each other - Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla only joined in the summer after all - but they have shown signs of flickering. Against West Ham, admittedly not the most solid of oppositions, Arsenal took them apart in a clinical, fluent attacking 10 minutes.


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The fact that Arsenal failed to score past Championship Blackburn on Saturday shouldn't impact on people's predictions for the Bayern game; Olivier Giroud was being supported by Gervinho, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, three players much less acquainted with his style of play than Podolski, Cazorla, Walcott and Wilshere. By the time the latter trio came on, Blackburn were about to go in front and revert to an incredibly disciplined and effective defensive tactic.

Some of Arsenal's best football has revolved around Giroud - earlier in this season's campaign in Europe, Podolski scored a beautiful volley after a one-touch exchange with the Frenchman. Kieran Gibbs later scored a carbon copy against Swansea. Having started a comeback against Liverpool with a header, the striker set up Theo Walcott intelligently to fire home the equaliser.

Walcott is a player that Giroud has formed a quality partnership with going forward, putting to bed the idea that Robin van Persie and Walcott's fine combinations were solely down to the Dutchman's movement and intelligence. The understanding that Arsenal's numbers 12 and 14 have is improving game upon game. And it's not just Walcott that Giroud has been playing well in tandem with - both of Jack Wilshere's goals this season have been set up by the Frenchman.

Partnerships are blooming all over the pitch as this new-look Arsenal attack plays more games together, and that is what the emphasis must be on against Bayern Munich in what is being billed as an unassailable tie. In a game in which Arsenal can't afford to throw too many players forward given the threat that Bayern pose on the counter-attack, the combinations between Wilshere and Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud, Walcott and Giroud and Giroud and Wilshere hold the key.

On top of that, Arsenal's players will need to come together and play as a proper unit as the daunting prospect of Bayern looms. The team would do well to remember two things - the swift counter-attacking move which saw Barcelona toppled, and Arsenal's motto: Victory Through Harmony.