Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Arsenal v Bayern Munich Preview

Arsenal face Bayern Munich tonight in what has become a must win game if they are to have any chance of progressing from their Champions League group. After a disastrous start to their campaign they are facing up to having to get three points from their two games against Bayern or more than likely exiting at the group stages for the first time in 18 years. It's not going to be an easy task against a team who have started the season in fantastic form and easily won their first two games against the teams who beat Arsenal.

Besides breezing through the group so far Bayern have also won their first nine league games in Germany and it's going to take an awful lot to stop them. There's no doubt that Arsenal have the ability to halt them in their tracks, but only if they're at their very best from first to last minute. The big question is how do Arsenal want to do in the Champions League this season and how importantly they are treating the competition.

If we believe what we are told the Premier League is the number one priority and maybe that would explain the team selections against both Partizan Belgrade and Olympiacos. The thing for me is that the teams chosen in both of those games were good enough to win even if they weren't Arsenal's strongest team. Those games were lost because of poor performances on each night and it's all too easy to say you are prioritising the league when the Champions League has gone so badly.

To finish outside of the top two in their group with be an awful outcome for Arsenal no matter how it is dressed up. Finishing third would put them through to the knock out stages of the Europa League and that would be worse than finishing fourth in my opinion. The prospect of playing in the last 32 of the Europa League on Thursday nights and then having to play in the league on Sundays is one we can do without. 

I think Arsene Wenger has to choose his strongest team and do everything possible to get the win. I would imagine the team will be very similar to the one which won 3-0 away to Watford on Saturday with the possible exception of Gabriel Paulista coming in for Per Mertesacker if Gabriel is passed fit to play. I think his pace at the back could be important and Bayern could have a field day with Mertesacker's lack of pace. There's always the possibility of another holding player playing alongside Francis Coquelin with both Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini available after their respective injury absences. 

I think the most important decision the boss can make is to play Theo Walcott in attack. He may have done little against Watford on Saturday, but surely Bayern are the ideal team for a player with his pace. They will push forward and there will be space behind their defence for Walcott to exploit if Arsenal can get the time on the ball to pick him out. 

David Ospina was chosen in goal in the first two group games, but he's injured for tonight which means Petr Cech will play. Ospina has taken a lot of flak for his horrendous mistake against Olympiacos and rightly so, but he wasn't the only one who played badly that night. It will be good to see Cech in goal though and surely it will make the defence feel a lot safer to have Cech behind them.

It's not often that Arsenal aren't the favourites to win at home in any competition, but Bayern are odds on to take the three points tonight. I don't think it's in this Arsenal team to stop Bayern playing their game so Arsenal will have to try to impose what they can of their own game on Bayern to have any chance of taking any points from the game. It's going to be a huge task for them, but it's one the players have to be up for on the night.

The biggest weapon Arsenal have is Alexis Sanchez who is in scintillating form at the moment and can make something happen at any time. He has six goals in his last three games for Arsenal as well as scoring three goals for Chile during the international break. If Arsenal are going to get something from this game he is the player most likely to make it happen.

I usually go all the way and predict an Arsenal win and this game will be no different, but my usual confidence in my prediction isn't quite there. I'm fearful of what could happen if Bayern are at their best and Arsenal aren't, but surely each and every player can understand the importance of the occasion and the gravity of the team's position in their group. A win would be fantastic and ideally the other two teams in the group will cancel each other out over the next two rounds of games too.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. BM have won 12 matches in a row. This will be their 13 th match. Is this a lucky omen for the gunners?Any team be it,RM,Barcelona,
    BM,Ajax or any dominant team in their respective leagues can't win all the time.This is because of the law of averages.
    Same with empires. No empire can last forever.The Roman and British have seen their glory days gone forever.
    For tonite 's game ,if Arsenal go all out on the attack make sure the defence is geared for a swift counter by BM.And for God's sake
    cut out the cat and mouse game infront of the BM box.Make it fast and direct.Otherwise it will be the perfect recipe for a swift BM counter which could cut the gunners defence to ribbons. Watford almost did it but their guys aint as good as the German danger men.
    I hope Arsenal can nick it 1-0. A draw aint good enough and for all you know England could be assigned 3 cl berths next season.