Wednesday nighta s encounter between FC Bayern Munich and Arsenal FC promises to be a thrilling encounter between two teams at the pinnacle of form.
In the same fixture last month, it was Arsenal FC, who came out all a gunsa blazing and managed a well-earned 2-0 triumph over an FC Bayern Munich side, that still had a perfect record in the Bundesliga.
However, the tables seem to have turned in the last few weeks; FC Bayern Munich dropped Bundesliga points for the first time this season, with a 0-0 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Meanwhile, Arsenal FC seem to have gained some massive confidence from their victory over the Bavarians, and have extended their recent league form to five straight wins. This time however, the battle is at the Allianz Arena, home to FC Bayern Munich, which is set to make the job doubly difficult for the Gunners.
Can the Gunners play the same game at Allianz Arena?
Arsenal FC relied heavily on the counter attack in the home leg of this fixture at the Emirates, and exploited the pace of newly transformed centre-forward Theo Walcott to a great extent against the Bavarians.
However, that tactic may not quite work out in this match. For one thing, they would be without the services of Walcott, who is sidelined due to injury. The England international added a lot of pace to the entire Arsenal FC forward lineup, which proved to be rather effective against an FC Bayern Munich side that likes to keep possession of the ball.
But due to the unavailability of Walcotta s services, the Gunners have just the one option a Olivier Giroud, who is a completely different forward than Walcott.
The Frenchman makes up for his lack of pace with his strength and good aerial abilities, and can often be used as a target man. As manager Arsene Wengera s only other choice up front seems to be the 19-year-old Alex Iwobi, it is extremely unlikely for Giroud to be left out of the starting XI. This tactic could well suit Arsenal FC, as FC Bayern Munich like to maintain long bouts of possession.
One negative side to this is that many have tried (and failed) this tactic against Pep Guardiolaa s teams (first FC Barcelona and now FC Mayern Munich), with a few exceptions. Also, the fact that Arsenal themselves are an attacking side could well end up to be their undoing, if they try and force the issue too much against the Bavarians.
Bayern to attack, attack and attack?
FC Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola has come out to reveal his sidea s tactics, ahead of the match, and unsurprisingly, the Bavarian team’s startegy would be all about attacking a whether they have the ball or not.
Guardiola has said that Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are two centre-backs, who are not particularly comfortable on the ball when put under pressure, and his side would be looking to exploit this, with their high-pressing game.
However, Koscielny and Mertesacker have passing accuracies of 90.2 per cent and 89.1 per cent, and the game would turn out to be really interesting, if they can maintain the same amount of composure, under pressure. They would also have the help of holding midfielder Francis Coquelin (passing accuracy 92.3 per cent) to keep the Germans from intercepting.
It seems that the Arsenal FC defence needs to be on guard at all moments. Even when they do not have the ball at their feet, they would need to keep both their eyes out for the Bayern top three a Douglas Costa, Thomas Mueller, and Robert Lewandowski.
The trio have already been involved in an impressive 64 goals this season, and the Arsenal FC defence needs to be extra careful about them. Hector Bellerin has not traveled with the Gunnersa squad, which means that Costa could have a good go at Mathieu Debuchy, whose deficiencies were exposed in their League Cup loss to Sheffield Wednesday, last week.
Arsenal FC just cannot afford to lost this game, as it could make it almost impossible for them to qualify for the Round of 16. Given that they are currently locked in a fierce battle for Premier League supremacy and their long list of injured players, failure to finish as one of top two might not exactly be a bad result for them.