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Arsenal v Bayern Munich; Champion’s League Match Preview

“Of all the teams that Arsenal would not like to be playing right now (besides Barcelona) Bayern Munich is it.” Well, that’s it then we shouldn’t watch and hey forget about the match because well, it’s too much of a mountain to climb.

I read this today – “Of all the teams that Arsenal would not like to be playing right now (besides Barcelona) Bayern Munich is it.”  Well, that’s it then we shouldn’t watch and hey forget about the match because well, it’s too much of a mountain to climb.

Not convinced? Well, FC Hollywood (as they are called in Germany) has only conceded 7 goals this season, they’ve yet to lose in 2013 going an impressive 5 for 5 in league play, they were “Autumn Champions well before any team had done it, and VFL Wolfsburg’s shot in the 77th minute was their first shot allowed on goal in over 4 hours of play. There’s more of course, but hey at this point we should all give up any semblance of hope or in some cases support for our team (we’ll get there shortly.)

Yet, that same impressive juggernaut does have problems. In Champion’s League play they’ve not travelled well. Their group campaign was an unimpressive 1W 1L 1D with FC BATE drubbing them 3-1.  Add in some other travel facts about Bayern, like they’ve only won 2 times in 15 visits to England and as a matter of fact have never won in London.

But before we go into this there are two things I’d like to address. Two things that were making the rounds yesterday that irked me. The first is the blatant overreaction to a supposed Wenger “meltdown” that occurred in yesterday’s pre-match presser. I’ve watched the presser and the overriding thought was – if that was a meltdown – I’d love the English press to listen to me talk (loose term there) to a Tech Support drudge when I can’t get them to actually do something. Now THAT’S a meltdown.

As you listen it’s clear some reporters are in there with an agenda to stir things up. The fan base is frustrated and angry and it’s clear listening to some of the questions that they are hoping to bate Wenger into saying something they could use to incite the fan base even further. Because nothing makes good press like an angry fan base – just ask the scousers.  He addressed it clearly on early in the presser when he was asked about a story in the Sun that says he had been offered a two year contract extension.  The hope being Wenger might say whether or not he intends to stay beyond 2014 or leave. Either way its column inches and eyeballs on a web site.

The second thing is more directly related to today’s match and it has to do with “plastic supporters” who openly hope for Arsenal – their supposed team – to lose in order to expedite Wenger’s departure. Let’s be perfectly clear on one thing, if they didn’t fire Wenger after losing to Bradford or to Blackburn – completely inferior teams to today’s opponent – they aren’t going to fire him for losing to Bayern. Adding on to that, the board won’t fire him. Say what you will about Wenger but the board still respects him and believes in him. They will let him run out his contract.

But the bigger issue I have is with someone hoping for your team to lose. I can only surmise one thing based off of that – they really aren’t your team. The axiom of sport is true – you can’t pick your parents or the team you support. There are some addendums to that but your team is supposed to be your team – warts and all and if you can’t differentiate between supporting at game time and making fair critiques (that’s a polite way of saying open rants) then there is something not right in your support.

We support Arsenal FC, not Arsene FC or the board or individual players. Doesn’t matter who runs the club or who plays for the club, the two constants in the equation are Arsenal the club and its supporters.  Let me be perfectly clear – THINGS. ARE. BAD. There is no sugar coating that. But ask the supporters who supported from ’71 to ’89 and the lean years that were in between. In that time of 18 years there were ONLY two trophies the ’79 FA Cup and ’87 League Cup. No league titles and certainly no Europe to speak of. I don’t see any of them falling off and hoping for their team to lose. They criticized, they bore the frustrations out as best they could of the time but on match day they supported. Because that is what supporters do. We wear the club and our love for it on our fucking sleeves and it does my head in to see anyone openly call for the team to lose.

And if they don’t and somehow this season gets salvaged as best it can – that plastic fan will be right there telling his or her pals that they were right there all along. That makes my stomach turn.\

As for the match as I’ve said it is a daunting task. Arsenal are not the pictures of strength or consistency. They offer a machine-like Bayern, a chance to take them apart. But as discussed in the Podcast there are opportunities for Arsenal – if we take them.

First Bayern are used to playing league opponents who are more than willing to let them have the ball. With as strong as Bayern is – it’s a mistake. Arsenal have no such intentions. At home, they will fancy their chances and look to retain possession. Arsene needs to have his charges press the ball and hope for getting it back at all costs. Bayern don’t play many attacking squads and there is a chance as BATE proved that if you can hit them on the counter – you will get your chances.

Additionally, Giroud is a big man with very little in terms of speed and guile. His game is strength. Playing him centrally plays into Bayern’s defensive strengths as they will be more than ready to handle this. With Dante likely to start in a CB role, it’s imperative that Wenger consider using Theo through the middle with Podolski and Ox on the flanks. Bayern have issues with quick players and it will keep their defensive players honest. Use Theo in the middle to pose a threat that the Germans don’t get too often and use it to get shots on target. Bayern needs to be tested. They’ve been offered very little in the way of resistence in the league. If and I know it’s a big if with this squad, Arsenal set up right and enter the match with the right mentality, they should be able to get something from it.

For the full Bayern preview via YAMACast clip (DAG & James Thorogood) click play.

Players to watch:
Arsenal: Theo Walcott.  Wenger should consider playing him in the middle for this match. It poses the best possible challenge to a Bayern side who don’t normally see a lot of pacy forwards through the middle.

Bayern Munich:  Mario Mandžukić. The former Wolfsburg man is in form and he is keeping Mario Gomez on the bench. Which tells you how good he is. If he starts he is going to be problematic for the CBs.

Projected Lineups:
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen;  Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla;  Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlains; Walcott

Bayern Munich: Neur; Alaba, Dante, Van Buyten, Lahm; Schweinsteiger, Martinez, Ribery; Kroos; Müller , Mandžukić

Arsenal Injuries and Suspensions:
Monreal (cup-tied), Gibbs (ankle)

Leading Scorers (UCL):
Arsenal: Podolski 3

Bayern Munich:  Müller 3, Pizarro 3

Head to Head Tournament Stats:



Goals Scored



Attempts on Target



Attempts off Target









Fouls Committed



Yellow Cards



Red Cards



Match Official:
Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR)
Assistant referees: Kim Thomas Haglund (NOR), Frank Andås (NOR)
Additional assistant referees: Ken Henry Johnsen (NOR), Dag Vidar Hafsås (NOR)
Fourth official: Sven Erik Midthjell (NOR

Broadcast Information:
US: FoxSoccer Channel 2:45 PM EST

UK: ITV 1 1945 BST

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 1

Bayern: 1

Manager Comments:

Arsène Wenger:

I have the experience to know it’s played over 180 minutes. We must put in our head that we have 180 minutes to qualify – we must not rush our game. It’s important to play to win the competition and at some stage we’ll therefore come up against good teams. I trust our quality, I trust our spirit and I trust our mental strength – so see you tomorrow!

It’s important we play with belief; we’re on a good run overall. The fact is that we’ve lost two of our last 11 league games. Nil-nil at home is a very good result in the Champions League knockout, but we’re an offensive team and we’ll try to go forward and score goals.

We have a way to play that everybody knows – we play with a positive mentality. We have the quality to win and the psychological aspect is more important than anything else. What’s important is to forget what people say and play to our strengths. We are playing for Arsenal Football Club in the last 16 of the Champions League. We have to show we have mental strength.

We’ve been consistently in the last 16 but what we want now is to break through. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to do that because I believe we have a strong team.

Jupp Heynckes:

I think last season we had a great season but with Bayern if you don’t win a title then it’s not enough. This season we’ve changed in defence and what’s important to me is that every player must learn to defend and attack; every player is a defender and an attacker.

Two years without a trophy at Bayern – we have to do something about that. The players have that hunger and that motivation for success and that’s very important moving forward. We’ve shown this already in the league, in the cup and in the Champions League – that we have this desire and motivation. The Champions League is special because you play at a higher level so you need even more.

Arsenal are very good team, especially going forward, so we have to stand very tight in defence and then work our way forward. They’ve got a lot of tradition and history – they stand for passing football. They’re fifth in the league and they will be a very different opponent for us. You can really see how [Wenger’s] teams play as they have a real style and dynamic. I don’t have a result I wish for as such, but I think that we can win if we play at our very top level.

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