Arsenal welcome the defending European and Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich to the Emirates stadium for the Champions league Round of 16 first leg. The two teams met last season and Munich progressed on away goals en route to winning the competition.
Munich are heavy favourites and rightly so but if Arsenal can sneak past Bayern it would be one of the greatest accomplishments of Arsene and Arsenal. The 0-2 away win at AllianzArena last season that so nearly put Arsenal in the next round has been sighted as the pivotal moment by players and manager alike that sparked the run to finish above Spurs again for the 4th place and laid a foundation for this season’s title challenge.
Arsenal would be going into this game in a better frame of mind.The boss addressed it while speaking to the pre match press conference “I think we’re in much better mental shape than we were a year ago”. He also stressed on a quick start “It is important [to make a fast start] because every minute counts in a game of this stature and we are conscious of that and we’ll try to start very strongly”. On the injury front Tomas Rosicky is back, Arteta is suspended and there are no fresh injuries from the Liverpool game.
Team selection as in any big game will be very important. Podolski and Chamberlain may not start the game despite their heroics in the FA cup. Jack Wilshere needs a replica of his performance against Barca in which he went toe to toe with Xavi and Iniesta. Flamini will be sitting in front of the defence, barking orders and Flaminizing Gotze ,Muller et al. Ozil looked Ozil in his last game and it is not rocket science, he is a better player when there are pacy runners in the team. Giroud was given a rest (although he played some 10 minutes) and will be fresh.
The Bavarians destroyed Freiburg 4-0 in their last league game and are 16 points ahead of 2nd placed Leverkusen in Bundesliga. Shaqiri was injured in that game and is ruled out. Player of the year nominee Frank Ribery is out. Bastian Schweinsteiger has returned from a knee injury and has featured but he may not start tomorrow. Phillip Lahm continues to impress in his new holding midfield role. Guardiola spoke of the dangers posed by Arsenal and his admiration for Wenger. “My opinion on Arsene is that I have a lot of respect. “His teams have his quality and I have to admire the quality of my opponents”
“They always have good midfield players, with combinations. You have to be good in both sides in our defensive movements and try to understand their game.”
Bayern will be looking to win the game although it will be a much sterner test this time. A draw would do them no harm.
Man to Watch
Arsenal: Mesut Ozil
The Slick German, whether he plays well or not always gives Arsenal a chance, such is his ability. His performance against Liverpool in the cup was his best in a month or so. He has to be on song if Arsenal are to get anything out of this tie. He will be looking to get one over his German pals.
Bayern Munich: Phillip Lahm
Der Kapitän epitomizes the modern holding midfielder. He deserves more credit as he is by nature a right back and has been converted to a midfielder under Guardiola. It’ll be interesting to watch how he copes with Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla as the former starts central and wonders to the wings whereas Santi cuts in from the left to join the play.
Some can’t help but fear for Arsenal. But we gave Munich a run for their money last time. Never mind the guff that they weren’t prepared or complacent. We are better equipped and the feel good factor is slightly restored after a tough week.
No matter what others or the so called football experts opine I believe my club, Arsene and the players. We may not progress but you never know. BELIEVE
Arsenal 2-Bayern Munich 1