Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Arsenal v Bayern Munich Preview

Arsenal have been in very good form recently and look like they could be real contenders to win the Premier League. They're only off the top of the league on goal difference and have won seven of their last eight league games. Their form in the Champions League hasn't been quite so good though with the notable exception of their last game when they beat Bayern 2-0 at home.

Unfortunately that fantastic victory was preceded by a defeat away to Dinamo Zagreb and a loss at home to Olimpiacos. The defeat in Zagreb was bad enough, but the defeat at home to Olympiacos is the one which has really made their chances of making the knock out stages so difficult. That result against Olympiacos also means that Arsenal probably need something from the game in Munich and that will be no easy task.

As it stands Arsenal sit at the bottom of the group with three points from three games which is the same amount as Zagreb. They're three points behind Bayern and Olympiacis which is where the problem would lie if Arsenal were to lose in Munich. We can only assume Olympiacos will win at home to Zagreb which would leave Arsenal six points behind the two leaders if Arsenal lost and in a precarious position.

I think Bayern will win at home to Olympiacos whether they need to or not, but Arsenal would still have to go to Greece for their last group game needing a two goal win to qualify as long as they win at home to Zagreb. However a point in Munich would mean any victory away to Olympiacos would be enough and it would also mean Bayern would need a victory over Olympiacos in their next game. It's not an easy task to get anything away to Bayern, but Arsenal have done it twice in recent seasons and are capable of doing so again. 

Those two results came too late for Arsenal after poor results in the home leg at the knock out stages, but they must give the team some confidence for this game. Bayern dominated possession at the Emirates and I have no doubt they will again, but Arsenal were resilient enough to withstand them and can hopefully do so again. It's a shame Theo Walcott is injured because his pace on the break could have been a huge factor, but it's something Arsenal will have to do without.

They coped well away to Swansea on Saturday even with all of the injuries the squad has to cope with at the moment. The team won't be much different tonight with the obvious exception of Mathieu Debuchey coming in for Hector Bellerin who is the latest player to join the growing injury list. I haven't been impressed with Debuchey when he has played this season, but he will hopefully do better as part of s strong team and he should benefit from having the hard working Joel Campbell on the right hand side with him.

Campbell at last took his chance when he played at Swansea on Saturday and it was great to see him get his first goal. I haven't been his greatest fan, but he looked better as part of a strong team and hopefully he can continue to impress. He will have to work very hard tonight along with the rest of the team, but he certainly isn't afraid of hard graft.

Pace is the biggest weapon Arsenal have against Bayern as they will push forward and press the ball from first minute to last. With Walcott out Giroud will have to lead the line and he doesn't possess Walcott's pace, but he is far better at holding the ball up and bringing others into the game. He's going to have to be at his best tonight too, but he has scored plenty of goals in recent games.

I don't think the boss will go for something like a double defensive axis in midfield because Santi Cazorla is so important to the team in his central role and I'm not so sure he can trust Mathieu Flamini to keep his concentration for the whole game. It's going to be backs to the wall for Arsenal for much of the night and he needs to have his best team possible out there to try to get something from the game. Bayern are a force to be reckoned with and are big favourites to win the game, but Arsenal have shown they have the wherewithal to get the better of them.

It won't be the end of their hopes if they lose though, but they will be balancing on a knife edge. Anything other than a defeat would be fantastic and it's something I think this team are capable of. Hopefully they can get the point they need or even more tonight and go into the North London derby on Sunday in a very healthy position.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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