Ahead of the first leg we spoke with Sam. Sam is one of our translators here at Miasanrot and in his heart a supporter of FC Arsenal, making him the ideal interview partner.
Hello Sam, it’s likely that many of our readers aren’t quite so familiar with you. Could you briefly introduce yourself and explain to us why you’re an Arsenal fan?
Hello. I’m a 20-year-old languages student currently living in Hamburg on my year abroad as part of my degree studying German and Spanish. I’ve been an Arsenal fan since birth because of my dad, and he’s the one who took me to lots of games, first at Highbury and then at the Emirates. I’m also a member of the Miasanrot team as a translator, and have been translating articles from German into English for several months now. So I have a foot in each camp almost, although my allegiances for this game are pretty clear.
It’s almost unbelievable. This time Arsenal managed to win their group, and yet they still couldn’t avoid one of the big sides. Is that just disappointing, or can you take your motivation from that to finally make it through?
I’d say not just disappointing but boring. I wouldn’t mind losing to Real Madrid or to Atletico Madrid or someone else we haven’t played much recently, but losing against Bayern is just so dull. It’s also frustrating having a tough draw despite fighting to top the group, but we’d probably be unlikely to make it past the quarter-finals anyway.
In the league, Arsene Wenger’s side started very promisingly, but have lately lost touch with Chelsea. As it stands, you’re in third place. How satisfied are the fans with this situation and what kind of aspirations do club and fans hold?
I think most fans are frustrated at losing more ground and perhaps bored more than anything. It hasn’t been a terrible season, we had a really good patch towards the beginning of the season. But as usual the promise has been replaced by familiar disappointment and the feeling that we were probably foolish to think we could be genuine contenders. There’s lots of anger towards the manager among the fan-base, lots of frustration and very little optimism at the moment I think. Personally I’m just a little bored. The best we can hope for is probably 2nd place and the FA Cup, meaning we’ve made basically no progress in the last four years.
You just can’t shake the feeling that the Gunners have been treading water for years. What’s holding them back?
It feels like things have become a bit stale. Since we signalled a new era by signing Mesut Özil for €50 million, we were supposed to have pushed on and become regular title contenders. And yet we seem to have plateaued and we can’t quite find that next level. I like our squad, I think it’s one of the best we’ve had in quite some time. But for some reason our results aren’t improving. The longer this goes on, the less faith I have in Arsene.
So is it time for a change?
Probably a reluctant yes. After everything he’s done for us, we should have the utmost respect and love for him – he’s a club legend and nothing should change that. But I think it may be time soon to freshen things up and bring in some new ideas, as long as we can find somebody who would be up to the job. I just have no idea who that could be.
Recently Arsenal have been knocked out in the round of sixteen in the Champions League six times. Why will they reach the quarter finals this time?
That’s a hard question. We do have a rare advantage in that we have the home leg second this time, as we usually have to play away in the second leg. This time we can afford to be defensive in the away game, before going for it in the home leg with our fans behind us (theoretically). That might make a big psychological difference.
Where would you pinpoint FC Bayern’s weak-points, and how can Wenger’s side exploit them?
Again a hard question. Most of our fans are still petrified of Bayern after our recent history and their reputation, but from the knowledge I’ve gained having translated for Miasanrot, I can see that things aren’t quite going so smoothly. Even though they’re top of the Bundesliga quite comfortably, they seem to be struggling to hit form and winning games unconvincingly. Perhaps if Bayern aren’t confident we can shake them by coming at them fast early on and surprising them.
And what kind of tactical strategy are you expecting from Arsenal?
In this away leg we’ll probably be quite cautious but look to take opportunities on the break. Arsene isn’t the type of manager who would play to defend only, but he’s not stupid either. We’ll probably look to protect the defence with Xhaka and Coquelin in midfield, sitting compactly as a team, and try to use Walcott, Özil and Sanchez on the break.
How will the game go?
I’ll go for a mixture of optimistic and realistic and say a tight 2-1 to Bayern. An away goal would be lovely.
If you could take any FC Bayern player to play for Arsenal, who would it be and why?
That’s a tricky one. Maybe Thiago Alcantara – we’ve struggled without Cazorla and Thiago would control the midfield quite nicely. Plus it seems like Bayern rely on him a lot at the moment, so it would be nice to weaken them as much as possible.