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Arsenal v Bayern Munich; Champion’s League Match Preview – Second Leg

Nothing is impossible? Improbable? Yes. And with each dwindling match report the improbable does seem insurmountable – doesn’t it? But this is why we support. We support because they are our team and even in our deepest recesses of dispair we always (mostly) have a faint glimmer of hope that the improbable will happen.

Nothing is impossible? Improbable? Yes. And with each dwindling match report the improbable does seem insurmountable – doesn’t it? But this is why we support. We support because they are our team and even in our deepest recesses of dispair we always (mostly) have a faint glimmer of hope that the improbable will happen.

Arsenal have nearly pulled off the imporbable the last two times facing certain elimination. Last year they showed heoric stature to claw back from 4-0 to Milan to draw close with 3-0 win at the Emirates. The year before, we will truly never know what would’ve been with Robin Van Persie getting sent off against Barcelona.  But they proved worth their weight in the home leg and would’ve been good for it had the field been level at the Camp Nou.

All these near misses aren’t heartening because they just show we always fall short. But there is more to falling short than just the score. What can it be used for? If we fail grotesquely in this match it will only increase the outward cry for change at all levels. But if Arsenal manage a “professional” performance against Bayern, the psychological gain would far out weigh the negatives.

Sure, we’ll have gone out of another cup competition (one we supremely covert mind you) but if we are realistic – going down 3-1 at home pretty much sealed the fate of this match. But what cannot happen is another abject performance. A limp show and a drumming by the home side will have immediate effect as the fragile mentality of this club goes further south. However, if for 90 minutes the effort and performance make the stuff of heros then the positivie mental aspect of it could be used as leverage for the remaining 10 league games.

It’s not something anyone wants to write or to hear about our club. We want to win. We always want to win. But the reality is we are where we are and we have to fight for the scraps we can get. Right now, having some sort of mental edge going into the last 10 matches is all I can hope for as we look to retain some shred of integrity in the face of so much ugliness.

And I am under no delusions of grandeur. This could all go very poorly for Arsenal. They already are without Jack Wilshere who depending on which story you follow is either out for 2-3 weeks or the rest of the season (take your pick based on you current Arsenal world-view). In addition to Jack being out, Sagna is out and Lukas Podolski has been left behind to recuperate from an ankle injury. More shocking is that Szczesny has been left in London to rest and it looks like Lukas Fabianski will start in goal.  Sure, Bayern are without Schweinsteiger, Boateng and Ribery but they have a depth of talent that will suitably fill in for the missing players.

At this point is all I can hope for is the avoidance of any type of embarrassment and the players leave it all on the pitch.  Some will argue that will drain them for the weekend trip to Wales. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it will just give them the impetus to step up and make a proper account of themselves inthe twilight of this poor season.

Players to watch:
Arsenal: Lukasz Fabianski. Hasn’t deputized for the senior side at all this season. His form in reserve matches hasn’t been stellar either but Szczesny has been left in London to be “rested,” Fabianski has a chance to stake a claim to play more – especially given his compatriots poor form of late.  

Bayern Munich:  Arjen Robben. With Ribery out, Robben gets a rare start. His skill cannot be denied and his speed is deceptive. Only downfall is, he pretty much runs the same path – down the wing and cuts inside to take a shot.

Projected Lineups:
Arsenal: Fabianski; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs;  Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla;  Gervinho, Walcott; Giroud

Bayern Munich: Neuer;  Lahm, van Buyten, Dante, Alaba; Martinez, Luiz Gustavo; Müller, Kroos, Robben; Mandzukic

Arsenal Injuries and Suspensions:
Monreal (cup-tied), Wilshere (ankle) Podolski (ankle) Szczesny (rested)

Leading Scorers (UCL):
Arsenal: Podolski 4

Bayern Munich:  Müller 4

Head to Head Tournament Stats:

Arsenal

Bayern

Goals Scored

11

18

Attempts on Target

34

60

Attempts off Target

23

47

Corners

29

67

Offsides

23

12

Fouls Committed

99

93

Yellow Cards

20

18

Red Cards

0

1

Match Official:
Referee: Pavel Kralovec (CZE)
Assistant referees: Roman Slyško (SVK), Martin Wilczek (CZE)
Additional assistant referees: Radek Příhoda (CZE), Michal Patak (CZE)
Fourth official: Antonin Kordula (CZE)

Broadcast Information:
US: FoxSoccer Channel 3:45 PM EST

UK: ITV 1 1945 GMT/20.45 CET

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 1

Bayern: 2

Match Facts (courtesy UEFA Press Kit:

  • Arsenal are Bayern’s third English opponents in the last two campaigns. They met Manchester City FC in last season’s group stage, winning 2-0 in Munich before losing by the same score away with qualification already assured, and then took on Chelsea FC in the final at their own Fußball Arena München.
  • The penalty shoot-out defeat meant they have come off second best in three European Cup finals against English sides, losing the 1982 and 1999 finals against Aston Villa FC and Manchester United FC respectively. Bayern did beat Leeds United AFC in the 1975 final to claim one of their four European Cup successes.
  • Bayern’s overall record against English teams is W14 D13 L10 and at home (not including last year’s final) it is W10 D5 L1.
  • Arsenal, in the round of 16 for the 13th successive season and seeking a place in the quarter-finals for the first time since 2010, had their nine-year unbeaten home record against non-English opposition ended by another German club, FC Schalke 04, in the group stage. The Gunners drew 2-2 in Gelsenkirchen having led 2-0.

  • The Gunners began the campaign with a 2-1 away win against Montpellier Hérault SC but have won only four of their last 16 UEFA Champions League away games, losing nine. They have won only one of their last 22 UEFA Champions League away matches, including qualifying, by a margin that would keep them in the competition, 3-1 at FK Partizan in the 2010/11 group stage.

  • Furthermore, Arsenal have never overturned a home first-leg defeat in European competition. They have lost only one such match, against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup first round, and went down by the same scoreline away from home.

  • Arsenal are unbeaten on their last three visits to Germany, drawing twice and winning 2-1 at Hamburger SV in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group stage

 

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