Arsenal play host to Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium in the last-sixteen of the Champions League this Tuesday night at 7:45pm.
Arsene Wenger believes his side have the mental strength and determination to put in a strong performance in Tuesday’s tie with European powerhouses Bayern Munich and feels they are capable of beating last year’s finalists.
Arsenal come into this Champions League tie on the back of Saturday’s FA Cup loss to Blackburn Rovers. The Gunners were beaten 1-0 at the Emirates, despite dominating the Championship side throughout and it was a loss that sent shock-waves through the London club. “The players are really hurt.” Wenger told reporters.” but now you have to take it on the chin and come back with a strong response. That is all we can do.”
Arsenal are a team in transition at present and have struggled at times this season. They currently sit in fifth position in the Premier League, outside the all-important Champions League places. After Saturday’s crushing loss to Blackburn Rovers, the Champions League is the Gunner’s only chance of silverware this year. They will need a big performance if they are to stand any chance of progressing to the quarter-final. Arsenal’s form has been unpredictable in Europe, with losses at home Schalke 04 and away at Olympiacos cushioned by wins over Montpellier and a 3-1 defeat of Olympiacos in the return fixture.
Conversely, Bayern Munich have been firing on all cylinders this season and have all but wrappped up the Bundesliga title, leading second-placed Bayern Munich by fifteen points. They come into this game having beaten Wolfsburg 0-2 at the weekend to maintain their stunning league form. In Europe, the Munich giants have been efficient rather than impressive, topping their group on goal difference but suffering a shock 3-1 loss away to BATE Borisov. A 2-1 win at home to Valencia ensured their place in the last-sixteen but it was far from inspiring.
January-signing Nacho Monreal is unavailable for Arsenal as he is cup-tied and Arsene Wenger could play Thomas Vermaelen at left-back as his replacement. Kieran Gibbs is out with a thigh injury but Carl Jenkinson returns from a one-game suspension.
Bayern Munich are without the services of striker Claudio Pizarro (illness) and defender Holger Badstuber (knee). Jerome Boateng is suspended.
Players to Watch
Theo Walcott is a leading light in a dark season for Arsenal and has been excellent in front of goal. His pace is electric and Walcott is one of a small group of European forwards that has the ability to trouble the high-tempo Bayern Munich defence. The England international faces a well-organised defence that has conceded the fewest amount of shots on target (17) in the competition.
Olivier Giroud had four assists in the group stages, a feat only bettered by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s five. Arsenal fans have been on the striker’s back since he arrived at the Emirates but he has shown plenty of promise and a big performance tonight could silence the critics.
Philipp Lahm epitomises all that is wonderful about this current Bayern Munich team. Lahm controls the team from the full-back position and along with David Alaba, Bayern have arguably two of the best full-backs in Europe. Alaba’s speed could neutralise Theo Walcott’s pace and it will be an interesting battle.
Bayern Munich are as impressive offensively as they are defensively. With Bastian Schweinsteiger and Franck Ribery, they have two players capable of winning any game and Arsenal will need to restrict the duo’s time on the ball. Mario Mandzukic will lead the line for the Germans and Arsenal centre-back Laurent Koscielny can expect a busy night trying to control the lively Croatian.
Bayern Munich have been unpredictable away from home in the Champions League this year, and Arsene Wenger is expecting a backlash from his players. Arsenal have lost just two of twelve home games against German teams, and I think they can rescue their manager with a win on Tuesday night. Arsenal are 3/1 to beat Bayern Munich with Boylesports.com.