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Match Preview: Arsenal v Bayern Munich; So We Meet Again?

We love our Champion’s League nights. We love the fact that it does mean meeting the best of Europe. We went through a group of death that was tight until the very last minute. And for the second year running we face off against everyone’s pre-tournament favorite; Bayern Munich.

We love our Champion’s League nights. We love the fact that it does mean meeting the best of Europe. We went through a group of death that was tight until the very last minute. And for the second year running we face off against everyone’s pre-tournament favorite; Bayern Munich.

Like last season the back to back meetings start with a kick off at the Emirates. Last season saw Bayern walk out of the Emirates with a rather comfortable 3-1 victory. It came immediately after falling out of the FA Cup against Blackburn. The two together packing a psychological wallop that wouldn’t really be recovered from until the Gunners’ visit to the Allianz two weeks later.

Both teams look very similar but actually quite different from last year. Each squad has minor additions – meaning that that they only a few players – each squad did add players of stature. And from the Bayern side, the manager goes from being Jupp Heynkes to Pep Guardiola.

In looking at this Bayern side, they’ve been cutting through Europe and their leauge like butter. You do have to wonder what’s the weak point. There aren’t many. They possess a wealth of talent on and off the pitch and can rotate and not lose a beat. They maybe a little less ruthless with their pressing game as they were with Heynkes but they’ve added to their German efficiency, Pep’s desire for keeping the ball on the ground and wearing out opponents.

Last season, Bayern got the ball and you felt they could score when the wanted to within 2-3 passes. They still can but now they don’t do it in such an efficient way they do it by owning the pitch and making you pay for it. Pep’s possession game has been added to the German ruthlessness that saw Bayern win last years Champion’s League.

They own the Bundesliga at this point and you do wonder what Arsenal can do to beat them. But before the towel is thrown in, remember that Arsenal at the Emirates and overall are a different beast then last year. The defensive pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny have solidified as the one of the best if not the best pairings in the league. They weren’t together in this first leg last year and helped pitch a shut out at the Allianz last season. Together with Gibbs and Sagna in the full back roles and Szczesny becoming ever more solid, the defense allows no more than .5 goals at home per game.

Additionally, they know that they can beat this squad and that they can hang with them for 90 minutes tightly. Remember Arsenal went out on the away goal rule. The difference was only that. For all of Bayern’s prowess at the Emirates had a couple of missed chances gone in at the Allianz, we’re talking a different story here.

So the fear factor is gone. That means that Arsenal have to attack Bayern and get people behind the very high line they like to play. It’s a match that calls out for an Ox or Walcott to play. Obviously we don’t have access to one but we do have another and while I project Ox on the bench, you just want him to play and get behind the likes of the Bayern FBs who can be caught out of position.

Pundits speculate that Bayern have had an easy ride of it and some even our favorite, Alan Hansen, thinks they might be underestimating this match. Arsenal can’t pay heed to that. They have to play their game. I dont think we’re going to play a sitting back style, not at home. As we saw in the City v Barca match yesterday, City were valiant, but sitting back allowed too much pressure and frankly made the result a forgone conclusion. You’ve got to strike the balance of not inviting chances but also taking your own.

How we adjusted to Liverpool in the FA Cup is the prime example. We started out playing a very high line and Liverpool tried to take advantage with their speed and almost did. We adjusted by sitting back slightly deeper and keeping the play in front of the CBs with Flamini playing deep in the MF. The team built from that and limited chances from distance or Suarez desperation volleys (that look like most people’s spectacular volleys). The point is they still had enough to attack Liverpool and they need to do the same versus Bayern. Though you could argue that Bayern do offer more all over the pitch then Liverpool who are merely good with their front three.

Whatever the case I’d recommend trying to sit back deep like City. The fact is many people don’t give Arsenal much of a chance. Like they didn’t give Arsenal a chance last season at the Allianz. I read yesterday that England were blessed to having footballing Gods in Barca and Bayern on their shores. It’s a defeatist mentality that we shouldn’t ever approach this match from – be it the supporters or the players. Maybe this is Bayern’s sternist test. Maybe we present them with a challenge they haven’t faced all season.

The great thing about football is today we get to see it played out and noone should believe that Bayern winning this tie is a foregone conclusion.

Players to Watch:

Arsenal. Mathieu FlaminiSimply put the frenchman needs to clog up the midfield to limit the creativity of one Mario Gotze.

Bayern. Phillip Lahm. There are so many to chose from this richly deep squad but it will fall to Lahm, converted to a holding midfielder to mark his national team compatriot, Mesut Özil,

Projected Lineups:
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs;  Flamini, Wilshere; Rosicky,  Özil, Cazorla; Giroud

Bayern: Neuer, Rafinha, Dante, Boateng, Alaba; Lahm, Thiago, Gotze; Robben, Mueller; Mandzukic

Arsenal Injuries and Suspensions:
Arteta (suspended -1), Ramsey (thigh), Walcott (knee) Vermaelen (calf) Kallstrom (back) Diaby (everything)

Head to Head Tournament Stats:



Goals Scored



Attempts on Target



Attempts off Target









Fouls Committed



Yellow Cards



Red Cards



Match Official
Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)
Assistant referees: Andrea Stefani (ITA) , Renato Faverani (ITA)
Additional assistant referees: Luca Banti (ITA) , Antonio Damato (ITA)
Fourth official: Lorenzo Manganelli (ITA)

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

UK: SkySports1 1945 GMT/20.45 CET

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 1

Bayern: 1

Match Facts (courtesy UEFA Press Kit)

  • Arsenal FC will be looking to end their last 16 losing streak when they renew acquaintance with FC Bayern München, last season’s UEFA Champions League winners and the side who ended their hopes 12 months ago.
  • The London team, in the last 16 for the 14th successive year, went down 3-1 at home to Bayern last season and bowed out on away goals despite a 2-0 success in Munich. Arsenal were eliminated by AC Milan in 2011/12 and Josep Guardiola’s FC Barcelona the previous season, losing both ties 4-3 on aggregate.
  • Bayern, meanwhile, had their ten-game UEFA Champions League winning run – a competition record that started following that second-leg defeat by Arsenal – ended on matchday six by Manchester City FC.
  • The 2-1 defeat by Borussia Dortmund on matchday three was Arsenal’s third in succession at home to German opponents. Their record at home to Bundesliga sides is W9 D1 L4; overall it is W14 D5 L9.
  • In their other home games Arsenal beat SSC Napoli and Olympique de Marseille, both 2-0 – the same scoreline they had overcome Fenerbahçe SK by in the play-offs. On their travels they won in Marseille and Dortmund but their matchday six loss in Naples meant they finished as runners-up behind Dortmund.
  • Arsenal’s last success at this stage came in 2010 when they recovered from a 2-1 defeat at FC Porto to win 5-0 in London. That was their third successive victory in the round of 16.
  • This is Bayern’s sixth successive last-16 appearance with their 2011 reverse against FC Internazionale Milano their sole defeat in that run.
  • The German champions won five of their six games in Group D to qualify in first place, losing at home to City on matchday six with their passage to the next stage already guaranteed. They had won away to City and beat both PFC CSKA Moskva and FC Viktoria Plzeň home and away.
  • This is Bayern’s fourth visit to England in 12 months and they have been successful on their three previous trips, including victory against Dortmund in May’s final at Wembley.
  • They also met Chelsea FC in the UEFA Super Cup on 30 August in Prague, winning 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw. Franck Ribéry and Javi Martínez got Bayern’s goals.
  • Bayern’s record away to English teams is W4 D7 L6; overall it is W15 D14 L12.
  • Bayern lifted the European Champion Clubs’ Cup with a 2-0 final triumph against Leeds United AFC in 1975, but have since lost finals to Aston Villa FC (0-1, 1982), Manchester United FC (1-2, 1999) and Chelsea (1-1, 3-4 pens, 2012).
  • As Barcelona coach, Guardiola’s record against Arsenal was W2 D1 L1. His team lost 2-1 in north London in the 2010/11 round of 16 first leg but won the return 3-1


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