Wenger wants character in Bayern test

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LONDON — Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has ridden out periods of turbulence in what is certain to be eight successive trophy-less seasons of domestic disappointment, but the heat is back on when Bayern Munich visit in the Champions League tonight.

The Frenchman, whose furrowed brow added a line or two after Arsenal were dumped out of the FA Cup by second-tier Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, has called on his side to stand up and be counted when they face the runaway Bundesliga leaders in a last 16 first-leg tie.

Arsenal were booed off after the home fifth round-defeat by Blackburn, completing a Cup exit double at the hands of lower league opposition after a shock Capital One (League Cup) quarter-final loss to fourth-tier Bradford.

Out of contention in the Premier League and with only a Champions League place to play for, Wenger needs a big performance against Bayern to quieten the doubters.

Arsenal have lost in the last 16 in the last two seasons and face a Bayern side cruising towards the Bundesliga title having won 18 of 22 league games. Friday’s 2-0 victory at VfL Wolfsburg was their fourth successive win with Mario Mandzukic, joint top scorer of the league, again on target for his 15th goal of the season.

Mandzukic looks set to start against Arsenal, with Mario Gomez again left on the bench. The Croatian’s form has been a blessing, with Gomez out for months following ankle surgery in August. He is also unfazed by media reports saying Bayern are close to signing Borussia Dortmund top-scorer Robert Lewandowski for next season.

The only minor discord in the Bayern camp is Arjen Robben’s dissatisfaction with his current substitute role.

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