Arsenal vs Bayern Munich
Feb 19, 2014 at 7.45pm (UK)
Arsenal host Bayern Munich in the first round of the knock out stages of the competition knowing that they have to put in a performance of a life time to get past the reigning European Champions who are further buoyed by the presence of Pep Guardiola in their ranks.
Having crashed out of the competition last time around at the hands of Bayern albeit a mesmerizing performance at the Allianz Arena, the Gunners will be raring to get something out of the home game before they travel to Germany for the second leg. They will come into the game on the back of a promising 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup 4th round. But on the other hand, they will face a Bayern Munich side who have dismantled their opponents all throughout the season and are yet to be beaten in the league. Although Arsenal, stand tall at the back, thanks to the solid partnership of Koscielny and Mertesacker, they will have to be vary of the Bavarians who have smashed 14 goals in their last 4 games.
With all the recent war of words between Wenger and Mourinho, and with the former stating that he sees Mourinho’s words as an embarrassment to Chelsea, Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola has come out and stated that he respects Wenger.
“My opinion on Arsene is that I have a lot of respect,” the Spaniard said. His teams have his quality and I have to admire the quality of my opponents.
“We are going to play one team that has all the season been up (leading the league), so now they are third or second in the league, but in the beginning (they were) there.
“It is a typical team that always puts in a good performance in the Champions League.
Arsenal in the last two seasons have crashed out of the Champions League mainly due to their poor performances in the first leg. Both against Milan and Bayern Munich in the previous seasons, they were battered heavily and then turned it around in the reserve fixture giving a feeling that if they had put in a little more effort in the first leg, something might have worked out. However, Wenger should be conscious this time around and if they are to get past the Bavarians, a solid performance at the Emirates is a start.
The return of Mathieu Flamini from suspension is a welcome news for Wenger. The French Man will be influential in the middle of the park and will have to take up the anchor role in the absence of Mikel Arteta who is suspended for the game. Despite the absence of Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Thomas Vermaelen, the Gunners have a decent line-up to face the test. The emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after his return to fitness has buoyed Wenger to make up the void left behind by Theo Walcott. The English International has been involved in in all of Arsenal’s goals off late, and would definitely be a goal threat tomorrow.
The likes of Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Bacary Sagna were rested during the weekend clash and should return to the first team. Talking about the latest team news, Wenger said:
Jack Wilshere had a stiff back, after that Cazorla was ill, Gibbs had a little muscular problem, Sagna was tired. But I kept the defensive stability with Mertesacker and Koscielny. I rested Rosicky completely. They will be OK for Wednesday, but we lose Arteta, who is suspended for Wednesday night.Ribery will miss the clash
For Bayern, Xherdan Shaqiri and Franck Ribéry will be a miss as the duo are out with thigh and glut injuries respectively. However, the likes of Gotze and Mandžukić will return to the first team after being rested during the the weekend.
Possible Starting XI:
Arsenal: Szczesny; Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Sagna; Flamini, Wilshere; Ozil, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Giroud
Bayern: Neuer; Alaba, Dante, Boateng, Rafinha; Lahm, Schweinsteiger; Tiago, Muller, Robben; Mandzukic
Arsenal 1-2 Bayern Munich