'It's do-or-die' - ex-Arsenal star on Emirates return ahead of Champions League clash

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The star was the youngest from his nation to compete in Champions League during his stay at Emirates

It’s just over 24 hours to go before Arsenal make their long awaited return to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals and they are set to take on a side who knocked them out of the competition in 2016/17 at the round of 16 stage.

Returning to the Emirates will not only be the ex-Tottenham striker Harry Kane, but the former Arsenal midfielder Serge Gnabry. Gnabry, 28, joined the Gunners in 2012, at the age of just 16, and would make 18 appearances for them in total, spending a season on loan to West Bromwich Albion before he headed back to his home nation, joining Werder Bremen in 2016.

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Gnabry and Arteta in 2014 Gnabry and Arteta in 2014
Gnabry and Arteta in 2014 | Getty Images

The forward’s first captain at Arsenal, however, was Mikel Arteta and as the pair are set for an Emirates reunion, Gnabry has spoken to his current club on his excitement at the opportunity to return to Highbury. Speaking to FC Bayern, the 28-year-old said: “I'm really looking forward to it. During the draw, I said it was bound to happen. I'm extremely happy to be going there again after almost eight years." During his time at Arsenal, Gnabry became the youngest German player in Champions League history at the time and when asked about his time at the club, the forward said: “That time had a huge impact on me. Daring to leave my familiar surroundings at 16 was a huge step, both on a personal and footballing level. Playing for a club like Arsenal was a great privilege at the time. Of course there were ups and downs, but I enjoyed my time there and got to know a lot of fantastic people. In the end, it was the right decision."

And of course, the former Gunners man was also questioned on his thoughts on Arsenal boss Arteta. “Arteta's now fully absorbed in his role as coach and thinks very strategically”, Gnabry added. “In my time, he was already an experienced player. He was the captain, a leader who spoke to everyone and communicated a lot.

"He was very helpful to us as young players back then. He built us up, always gave us good tips, always tried to guide us so that we stayed focused and gave everything."

When questioned about the side, containing compatriot Kai Havertz, and their chase for the Premier League, Gnabry said: “Arsenal have been on a very good run since Christmas. In any case, you can't really say anything bad about a team that’s competing for the Premier League title.

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“They're strong, good finishers and are keen on having possession. They're formidable in their own stadium with their fans behind them. It will be a difficult task, with two strong teams coming up against each other."

"Arsenal have had what it takes to play at the top again for a long time," he added. "The team has a certain flair and exudes strength. The odds are probably 50-50. They're formidable in their own stadium with their fans behind them. It will be a difficult task, with two strong teams coming up against each other.

"It's a do-or-die game - that's where we're usually particularly strong. Reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League would give us a huge boost. It's our big goal.”

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