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English Premiership

Ospina to start against Bayern – Wenger

Arsenal’s goalkeeper David Ospina (C) jumps to make a save during their UEFA Champions league Group A match against Basel, at the St Jakob Park stadium in Basel, in December 2016

LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 15 – Arsene Wenger says David Ospina will start against Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 tie as his performances were key to them reaching the knockout stages

The Colombia international has been chosen ahead of Petr Cech, having played all six games as the Gunners remained undefeated against Paris Saint-Germain, Basel and Ludogorets to top Group A.

Arsenal have been knocked out at the last-16 stage in the previous six seasons, including by Bayern in 2012/13 and 2013/14, but Wenger is happy to keep his faith in Ospina in Germany.

“I have nothing to hide there, it will be Ospina because of the quality of his performances,” the Arsenal manager said.

“We are in the last 16 and finished top of the group. If you analyse his performances in every single game we are where we are because of his great performances.”Wenger also suggested Mesut Ozil would start on Wednesday after he claimed the playmaker was lacking confidence.

Ozil has not scored since December 10 and has struggled for form in recent matches, including the two defeats to Watford and Chelsea.

“I will pick the team tomorrow morning,” Wenger added when asked if Ozil would play.

“I have no doubt that we play in Germany and Ozil is highly focused to have a good performance tomorrow.

The brunt of the criticism over Arsenal’s flawed recent performance has fallen on Mesut Ozil who has produced two sub-par performances

“Ozil has been playing for us for many years now and he knows perfectly our team and he knows how we want to play in every match. So it is an important match.”

Arsenal have a mixed record against Bayern, having won two and drawn one of their six meetings in the Champions League since February 2013.

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The last of those was a 5-1 drubbing at the Allianz Arena last season but Wenger is convinced his side have the experience to put in a more inspired performance this time, with the advantage of playing at home second also a potentially key factor in their favour.

“We need to focus on the performance. We know we play against Bayern who, basically listening to you, are favourites,” he said.

“That means we have to be very positive and on the fighting front and the playing front at the level [of Bayern].

“I feel we have the experience. We have played against a Bayern side for whom every year the target is to win the Champions League.

“When you look at their record, they are always basically in the last four. It is a massive challenge but I think we are capable of dealing with it.

“The advantage will be important, to have the second game at home, but only on the condition we have a good performance and result tomorrow night.

“That is why the only solution is to focus on that. Bayern will have a lot of the ball, but we have to play to be efficient defensively and with a desire to hurt them every time we can.”

-By Sky Sports-

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