Connect with us

Match Previews

Match Preview: Arsenal v Bayern Munich; Gunners Going Gotta Go For It

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Looking at the draw, we all shook our heads at the inevitable outcomes of the ties versus Bayern Munich but looked to the 4 matchups versus Olympiakos and Dynamo Zagreb thinking there were “easy” points for the taking. However, the old adage rings true, “nothing with Arsenal is easy.

Now after two embarrassing losses, Arsenal face the juggernaut that is Bayern Munich. The Bayern Munich, who have sliced through the Bundesliga like butter meaning their focus on the Champion’s League can be more lasered in. The same Bayern Munich who boast probably the most in form striker in the world right now in Robert Lewandowski.

Let’s be honest – anything can happen. Arsenal’s form since their last Champion’s League tie has been stellar. They decimated United in 20 minutes and while they barely got out of second gear, they did similar to Watford in 11 minutes (or so.) The point is, Arsenal when they are firing can play with anyone. The problem is when they aren’t firing.

Against, Olympiakos and Dynamo Zagreb, it was clear from the outset that we couldn’t give a damn about the opposition. We clearly underestimated them and it showed top to bottom. There was no urgency to the play. The movement of the ball which usually is crisp and fluid was to put it bluntly piss poor. In the end the results were fair for Arsenal because we simply underestimated the opposition.

The good thing for us, is there is no underestimating Bayern. They are as advertised. Any lackluster performance will likely make any progression out of the group impossible (it’s close to being that any way.)

The game has to be as near to perfect for Arsenal with an entire effort from the goal keeper to the striker. Arsenal need to press ferociously in the opposition half of the field and force errors (something very hard to do against Bayern) and win take chances. There has to be patience but it has to be splattered across a hunger to get the first goal.

Wenger talked about the importance of the first goal. Against a lesser opponent who might sit back to choke off the passing lanes, the first goal tends to force them out of their shell. Against Bayern, should Arsenal get the first goal it will give them belief they can move forward and maybe get a result.

So how do we do it?

The easiest place to do it is pressure from the top 3 on the back 4. Especially pressure from Theo and Sanchez. When Bayern are under severe pressure, they effectively use Neuer as a sweeper-keeper and he is so damn good at it. However, there is almost a cockiness to how they use him and passes are sometimes made blindly. With the speed of Theo and Sanchez pressing the back four, a poor back pass can result in a chance for Arsenal to latch on to the ball.

Additionally, I’d like to see Arsenal look to transition out of defending set pieces quicker to try and take advantage of Neuer’s desire to act as a sweeper. His positioning on almost every Bayern set piece is up field. Once we get the ball (if we get the ball) we need to look to either Özil or Santi to quickly transition to Sanchez or Theo – looking to catch Neuer peddling back.

Finally in one analysis I’ve read, an energetic press isn’t something Bayern are used to. They are used to for the most part, teams sitting back and playing off them. A couple reports showed that they didn’t like it and were troubled by high-paced pressure. We’ve obviously got the talent to do it, the question is can.

Wenger in the pre-game talked of all teams having weaknesses. I don’t know if these were what he picked up for Bayern. However, they are they and we have to look for them and exploit them.

Arsenal are as maddening as they are glorious. When called upon, we’ve continually responded – usually when there is nothing to gain. Tonight there is everything to gain. I don’t buy into the stream of thought that says we would be better off out of the competition. No – you want to be playing against the best – always. Champion’s League is where Arsenal need to be. We need to give it a herculean effort.

Probable Lineups:
Arsenal: Cech – Bellerin Gabriel Koscielny Monreal – Coquelin Cazorla – Ramsey Özil Sanchez – Walcott
Bayern: Neuer – Rafinha, Boateng, Martínez, Alaba –  Alonso, Thiago Alcántara, Lahm, Müller, Costa – Lewandowski.

Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal: Wilshere (leg), Welbeck (knee), Rosicky (knee) Ospina (shoulder)
Bayern: Benatia (thigh), Badstuber (thigh), Götze (thigh), Ribéry (ankle), Robben (thigh)

Head to Head Tournament Stats:



Goals Scored



Attempts on Target



Attempts off Target









Fouls Committed



Yellow Cards



Red Cards



Match Officials:
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)
Assistants: Bahattin Duran (TUR) , Tarik Ongun (TUR)
Additional assistants: Hüseyin Göçek (TUR) , Barış Şimşek (TUR)
Fourth Official: Çem Satman (TUR)

Broadcast Info:
UK: BT Sport Europe, 19:45 GMT
US: Fox Sports 2, Fox Soccer 2 Go, ESPN3 (Spanish), 2:45 PM EDT

YAMA Predicts:
Arsenal 2 – 2 Bayern. It’ll be hard fought but it will end in a draw.


Arsène Wenger

We have some ground to make up in Europe because we have not been at our desired level in the opening games. Our focus has been much stronger in the Premier League than the Champions League, but we know in this game our focus needs to be the same.

We have belief and confidence we are doing something right. We could be a little bit suspected of not taking the first two games at the right level, of not taking opponents seriously enough.

We have played great Bayern teams before, certainly as good as the team we will play tomorrow, and beaten them. The side that did the treble [in 2012/13], for example. We have had good results against them.

Josep Guardiola, Bayern coach

Tomorrow we don’t play six points against zero. We play at 7.45 [UK time], at 0-0 with 90 minutes to go.

When I analyse a team I never look at the table, I don’t care about that. I have to analyse them as if they had six points. We know each other, Wenger and me. I faced his side with Barça and Bayern. They have great technical qualities and are very difficult to play against.

In this situation they have an advantage because they have to win. I cannot imagine they won’t fight for 90 minutes. You have to look for a way to play that situation, we have to be intelligent and control our game.

I prefer our situation, though, no doubt about that; I prefer to come here with six points rather than none. But I can imagine my team with zero points at home to Arsenal – I know my team would be animals and aggressive, because it is the last chance. You have to give everything.

More in Match Previews