It would be fair to say that Arsenal will be staring elimination straight in the face when they line-up against Bayern Munich on their home turf. The Germans are 3-1 up on aggregate having bagged three away goals at the Emirates and are in prime position to progress to the next stage of the Champions League you feel.
In saying this however, Arsenal’s slither of hope may have increased just a little after it was confirmed that Franck Ribery will be missing the tie through injury. He joins fellow team-mates Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boateng who both miss the match through suspension.
Looking at Arsenal, there are key names that have been left out of the squad. Out of these, clearly the biggest loss is Jack Wilshere who has been confirmed to be out for three weeks with an ankle injury. Lukas Podolski and Bacary Sagna have been left out as well for similar reasons. Lastly and quite surprisingly Wojciech Szczesny have been left of the squad with Wenger opting to give the young Pole a rest.
Replacing Szczesny will be fellow Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. His bestowed nickname of ‘flappy-hand-ski’ says it all really. He has much to prove to the fans and there is no real bigger stage to do it on. It will be interesting to see how he will go with the high-ball, given his woes in commanding that area in recent times. I still haven’t forgotten that sinking feeling when the opposition would get themselves a corner.
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Looking to the outfield now and it is relieving to hear that Kieran Gibbs could start this match on the left. We have certainly missed his attacking flair, particularly in the Champions League where Vermaelen has had to play out of position. His qualities on attack will be a massive contributing factor if Arsenal are to overturn the aggregate scoreline. On the opposite flank Carl Jenkinson is likely to reprise his role with Sagna out with injury.
With Podolski out, the midfield becomes an interesting selection. Personally I would like to give Rosicky a go through the middle. The experienced Czech has been our stand-out performer in the cameo’s he has managed to make so far and deserves his chance. This would mean Cazorla would play out of the left, while Rosicky would be paired up with Diaby and Arteta in the middle and Walcott would be out wide. Lastly Giroud will be the spearhead up front.
Being the realist I am, Arsenal’s chances of progression are certainly slim, but certainly not zero. The key will be to start strong and try and pinch an early goal to make things a little more interesting. It will be a extremely tough job and could potentially be more about damage limitation rather than performing a miracle win.
on the team news…
Wilshere is out with an inflamed ankle, on the [left side], not the [right side] where he was injured [before] and he will be out for three weeks. He will not be available for Munich, for Swansea and not for the England games.
on Kieran Gibbs…
He is back in the squad, yes. It is great to have him back because we play Vermaelen out of position, although he can play left back. I have not decided if Kieran will start, but hopefully he will be fit to start.
on Sagna and Diaby…
Sagna is not available, Diaby is back in the squad. He has a test [on Wednesday]. Again, he is a bit short but hopefully he can travel.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
- Arsenal and Bayern Munich have met five times in the Champions League, with the Bavarians winning three times, Arsenal once and the other one ending in a draw.
- The Bundesliga side won the first leg 3-1 at the Emirates, and they have never lost by more than two clear goals at home in the Champions League.
- The Gunners must score at least three goals for any chance of progression, if the tie ends 3-1 to Wenger’s side the tie will go into extra time.
- Bayern Munich are the top scorers in this season’s Champions League with 18 goals.
- Bayern Munich have won all three of their home games in the competition this season (12 goals, three conceded).
- Arsenal have only ever won once in Germany in the Champions League despite travelling there eight times. It was in September 2006 against Hamburg where they won 2-1.
- Arsenal have lost their two previous away games against Bayern Munich. They have managed to score only one goal and conceded four.
Bayern 1 Arsenal 1