Allianz Arena, Munich
4th November 2015 2045 hours CET
After mixed results in recent matches, Arsenal travel to Germany to face Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. Based on current form its difficult to say who are favorites, and whenever these two sides meet, the match results have turned out to be the opposite of what was expected. During Bayerna s all conquering 2012-13 season, a 3-1 win at the Emirates looked to have sealed the Bavariansa progression to the quarterfinals but the return fixture at the Allianz Arena had all Bayern fans breathing easy after the final when Arsenal couldnt push for a third goal ending the match with a 2-0. The very next season both teams were drawn at the same stage of the competition which produced similar nail biting moments. Bayern won 2-0 at the Emirates but the return fixture was again closely contested as Arsenal finished with a 1-1 draw to bow out on a 3-1 aggregate. This time around both teams were drawn in the same Group and Arsenal have been written off by critics when they lost the first two group matches against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos. But a spirited Arsenal side beat Bayern Munich 2-0 with a disciplined performance. Guardiolaa s Bayern Munich will look to win the match and get back the momentum after suffering a loss against and a draw against Eintracht Frankfurt last week.
After a whirlwind start to the 2015-16 season, Guardiola suffered a defeat for the first time this term at the Emirates where Bayern looked shaky with hosts Arsenal at the top of their game. Bayern recovered quickly from the loss as they dispatched FC Koln for four goals in Bundesliga and followed it up by defeating DFB Pokal holders Wolfsburg 3-1 last Wednesday. Bayern will feel optimistic going into the reverse fixture with Arsenal as Arjen Robben made his much awaited return to the side and scored against Koln last week. The German Champions dropped points for the first time this season in the Bundesliga on Saturday when they were held by Armin Veha s Eintracht Frankfurt in a goalless draw. Bayern had more than 70% of the possession but Frankfurt had managed the same amount of shots on the goal as their opponents which points at Bayerna s dip in shot conversion rate. They faced similar problems against Arsenal at the Emirates in the first leg due to Petr Cecha s outstanding efforts in goal.
Bayern should once more be wary of Arsenala s counter attacks which cost them the game in London despite bossing the possession and having penetration in the final third. Robert Lewandowski will look to get back his goal scoring touch after being kept quiet in recent weeks by opposition defences. Douglas Costa will be raring to have a go at Arsenala s defence after a great outing in the first leg. Javi Martineza s return in October has helped Bayern to sort out central defensive problems and he will be partnering Jerome Boateng at the heart with David Alaba and Philipp Lahm in the full-back roles. Arjen Robben will most likely start his first Champions League game this season in the absence of Mario Gotze alongside Muller, Lewandowski, Thiago and Costa in the attack. Despite the first leg loss and recent goalless draw, Bayern are still a great threat as they play at home where they have not lost this season.
Probable Line-ups:(4-1-4-1): Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Martinez, Alaba; Alonso; Robben, Muller, Thiago, Costa; Lewandowski
Arsene Wengera s men lit up their campaign after defeating Manchester United and Watford with a margin of 3-0 in October and then rekindled their hopes in the Champions League by defeating Bayern Munich 2-0 against all odds. They followed it up with a 2-0 win over Everton which finally made them look like a composed unit. However, a shambolic performance against Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup saw them concede 3 goals eventually knocking them out of the competition. However, the gunners kept pace with the league leaders Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table by walking past Swansea in a comfortable 3-0 win this past weekend. Although Arsene Wenger is without his key men , the Gunners still look strong and given their bright performances at the Allianz Arena in the past, one can expect the Frenchman to field his strongest eleven on Wednesday. The first leg win against Bayern came at a cost as Aaron Ramsey injured his hamstring in the match. The injury list increased as Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Theo Walcott limped off against Sheffield Wednesday and Hector Bellerin has been ruled out of the clash after suffering groin strain on Saturday.
With the in-form Bellerin ruled out, Mathieu Debuchy might return to the starting XI after making his return to the side in the Capital One Cup from a lengthy injury layoff. Joel Campbell might well be handed a starting XI after scoring his first Premier League goal against Swansea on Saturday. He will partner Giroud, Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in the attack. The clash holds more importance for the North Londoners than Guardiolaa s men due to the fact that they are still third in Group F and a loss will jeopardize their chances of progression to the Last 16 of the competition.
Probable Line-Ups:(4-1-4-1): Cech; Debuchy, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal ; Coquelin ; Campbell, Ozil, Cazorla, Sanchez; Giroud
Players To Watch Out For
The German has been in outstanding form this season for Arsenal as he leads the Premier League charts with 9 assists to his name. The former Real Madrid man has created 76 chances in all competitions this season more than any of his teammates and will once again pose the threat in the final third. With Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud in fine form, Ozila s knowledge about his German teammatesa game will prove vital for Arsene Wengera s men. If Bayern have to stop Arsenal from getting better of them, they need to stop the former Schalke man from making key passes for his teammates in and around the box.
Few players can be as reliable goalscorers as Thomas Muller and Bayerna s record goalscorer in Europe will again be the key for his team on Wednesday. The World Cup winner has already struck 14 times for Bayern in all competitions this season, and continues to be the most consistent attacker in the team. He also scored against Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen where his strike partner Robert Lewandowski was kept quiet by the opposition defences. His judgement of finding space inside the box is second to none and with Robben back in the side, Muller will look to look to pull back a win for Bayern after the first leg loss in October.
- If Arsenal lose the match against Bayern, there is a serious chance of them bowing out in the first round for the first time since the 1999-00 season.
- Bayern will have to improve their home record against English clubs as their previous 5 outings against English clubs have yielded 2 losses and a draw where they have clearly been run over by Arsenal and Manchester United in the past two seasons.
- For the first time in eight months, Pep Guardiola has less than five Bayern players on the injury list.
Bayern Munich 3-2 Arsenal
Bayern play at home and the recent defeat in London will only motivate the Bavarians to go for the win and top Group F. Arsenal on the other hand are in outstanding form domestically and having defeated Bayern on Matchday 3 will go into the match full of confidence. The Gunners have been sharp on counter attack and will look to break away against Bayern who like to press their opponents in their own half. Recent seasons have seen neither Bayern nor Arsenal win both the legs and given the form the two teams are in, it will be a closely contested match. Guardiola considers Arsenal as one of the top sides in Europe, but will look to win the game at any cost with the home crowd behind the team.
Blast from the Past
Arsenal met Bayern Munich in a Champions League group fixture on 5 December 2000. The game started in fine fashion for the Gunners as Thierry Henry opened the scoring for Arsene Wenger’s side inside 3 minutes. The Gunners went into the half time break on the back of a one goal lead and some great offensive play. It took them less than 10 minutes after the restart to double their lead as Kanu found the back of the net. Bayern immediately pulled one goal back via Tarnat’s low shot before the Germans dramatically equalised through a free kick where Scholl’s curving shot left Arsenal’s goalkeeper Manninger stranded as he watched the ball fly into the top corner of his goal. The game ended level at 2-2.