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Flamini: Bayern facing a better Arsenal

ESPN staff
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Mathieu Flamini believes Arsenal have grown as a team since losing to Bayern Munich in last season's Champions League round of 16.

Arsenal have a repeat encounter against the champions at the same stage this season, but unlike last year come into the game as strong Premier League contenders - sitting just one point off league-leaders Chelsea.

While the Premier League is a three-horse race, Munich have all but sewn up the Bundesliga, sitting sit 16 points clear of Leverkusen, are unbeaten in 21 games and look on course on course to replicate last season's historic treble.

But despite the daunting face awaiting them, Flamini is using Arsenal's form in the league this season as proof they can go a step further and knock the holders out of the competition.

"I think it has been a more improved team effort this season," Flamini told Uefa.com.

"It's making all the difference. The players are putting in the necessary effort and everyone is fighting for each other. Arsenal this year know the difference between winning and losing, it is very fine.

"It's up to us to prove we have what it takes to win the title domestically. We are trying to stay focused now that we have the opportunity to win titles after so long."

Flamini was a second-half substitute in 2006 when Arsenal lost to Barcelona in the Champions League final - the closest Arsene Wenger has been to European glory.

The Frenchman was part of Arsenal's run to the final - which included wins over Real Madrid, Juventus and Villarreal - and insists the Gunners have to beat the likes of Munich if they want to go the distance again this year.

"It will be an interesting game against Bayern," he added. "We know it is going to be a difficult game to play but we know that we have to beat these big teams if we want to progress.

"I remember when I was playing for Arsenal before and we reached the Champions League final against Barcelona [in 2006], we also faced big teams like Madrid and Juventus. If you want to win it, you must face all the big teams."

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