By Mike Collett
LONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was delighted that his team reproduced their recent outstanding Premier League form to revive their faltering European fortunes with a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
The London club have climbed to second behind Manchester City in the Premier League but were struggling in Champions League Group F after losing their opening two matches to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos Piraeus.
For long periods it looked as if they were either going to lose, or at best draw against Bayern, but a 77th-minute header from substitute Olivier Giroud and a stoppage-time second from Germany international Mesut Ozil gave them an unexpected but hugely important victory.
“The team focus and the dynamic was there in the preparation and we have had that for a while now,” said Wenger.
“I said that in the press conference yesterday we were not at our level in the first two games because we were focussed on the Premier League.
“But we needed what we show in the Premier League, to beat Bayern tonight.
“It strengthens our belief and the belief of the people around us, our fans, our supporters.
“We won 3-0 against Manchester United, 3-0 against Watford and 2-0 tonight and it’s important we have a good balance.
“As long as we are attacking well and defending well and score goals the balance is right.”
Arsenal have revived their chances of qualifying for the last 16 of the competition for the 16th successive season, although they still trail Bayern and Olympiakos by three points.
Olympiakos, who won 3-2 at Arsenal last month, won 1-0 at Zagreb on Tuesday and have six points, along with Bayern. Dinamo and Arsenal both have three points with Arsenal travelling to Bayern for their next match on Nov. 4.
“We had to win the game tonight,” Wenger told reporters, explaining why he gambled on pushing up his defenders for the free kick that led to Giroud’s opening goal, which came after a rare mistake from goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Asked about their chances of qualifying, he replied: “We need a result at Bayern in our next game, but first let’s focus on Everton.”
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey will miss that game at the Emirates on Saturday after pulling a hamstring in the second half.
“He’s very down, he told me that the hamstring is a tough one. He’s out yes,” Wenger added.
(Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Toby Davis)