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Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich

Arsenal Stadium

19th February, 2014


Arsenal v Bayern Munich Match Preview

Arsenal welcome Europe's premier side to North London tomorrow night in their most taxing engagement of the season. Bayern have gone 3,789 games unbeaten in Germany (or thereabouts) and are the defending European champions.

Arsenal managed to salvage some pride in the Allianz last March after a chastening home defeat from the continent's finest. A year on, Arsenal are a better, more mature and defensively sound side, that win in Bavaria last spring was a catalyst for that improvement.

Indeed, this blog Click Here suggests that watching Bayern's masterclass in North London last February was watched rather studiously by Wenger.

Bayern are still the team to beat in Europe. Under new manager Pep Guardiola they're a slightly more high energy outfit and no less devastating for it. Arsenal will really have their work cut out.

It will be interesting to see how Arsenal line up. I think 10 of the 11 players probably pick themselves given Arteta's suspension. The key selection will be whether Wenger opts for Rosicky, Chamberlain or Podolski.

The German scored against Bayern last year but has become increasingly peripheral ever since. Rosicky could start on the right hand side of midfield to give Arsenal security in possession. Chamberlain however, has the attributes to drive at Bayern and in behind them. Three very different options that will reveal much about Wenger's approach.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene Wenger believes his side have the belief to eliminate Bayern Munich this year, having been eliminated by the Germans in 2005, 2013 and in the second group stage in 2001.

''We have a strong team spirit, a strong desire to do well and a united team. Belief is built by results and on that front, we are stronger of course,' he said.

'Last year, we went out on the away goal, so that shows it's important not to concede at home. Our home form will be vitally important in this tie.

'But I think we are in much better mental shape than we were a year ago. We lost against Blackburn at home in the FA Cup and that was a big disappointment for us, but this year we won against Liverpool and we are really determined to win this game tomorrow.

'Since the start of the season, we have done well and it's now down to us how well from game-to-game we can show the same spirit and focus we showed against Liverpool.

'Every minute counts in a game of that stature and we are conscious of that and we will try to start very strong.'

'Since the start of the season, we know that in every game we have to be absolutely 100 per cent. We believe we can do it but it's down to the quality of the performance.

'With the quality of players on the pitch on both sides, it's nearly impossible to play without style. They will produce a quality game.'

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola is wary of the threat that the hosts will pose his side, ''Always they have good shape and good movement,' he said. 'Always they are organised with the ball and when during the game we let the ball go to them, we are going to suffer.

'I have never won here.

'I have learned you can never dominate 90 minutes against Arsenal. With their quality of player, a complete 90 minutes is impossible.

'What happens, is you can dominate for certain moments. Until maybe before half-time. But Arsenal, with this quality players, will always give you have a problem at some point.

'We will try to make a good game as best as possible. I don¹t even think too much about the second game. We need to concentrate on what we have to do tomorrow. I hope it's going well.

'Bayern, here, won good but after in the Allianz Arena it was difficult last five or six minutes,' Guardiola said. 'I have a lot of respect for my colleague Arsene, ­ he always likes the good, good players, always likes the good style - I know Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, they have experience. And Olivier Giroud is terrible in the box.' (shall we presume he meant 'terrifying'?)

'Mesut Ozil is a top player,' he said. 'I know him very well because he played in Madrid. He was a fantastic player in Germany. He is a big talent - good passes, good vision.

'His team-mates from the national team explained to me that he is a good trainer and a good guy, so we have to control him. The best way to control him is when Bayern have the ball.'

Arsenal Team News:

Mikel Arteta is suspended for Arsenal after his red card in Naples. Jack Wilshere returns from a back problem.

Thomas Vermaelen (knee), Theo Walcott (knee), Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Kim Kallstrom (back) and Abou Diaby (knee) are all out.

Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Rosicky, Arteta, Podolski, Wilshere, Özil, Giroud, Chamberlain, Monreal, S.Cazorla, Flamini, Fabianski, Sanogo, Bendtner, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Gnabry.

Player to watch: Jack Wilshere

Paddy Barclay said in a recent interview with the Gooner fanzine, 'Wilshere is an extraordinary player. Except when he tries to take on the world, then I think he looks ordinary.'

Wilshere's best performances are typically in games that Arsenal control. Yet in the heavy defeats at City and Liverpool, he lost his head and became an island in the midfield. A law unto himself, he submitted to his frustration and played without intelligence.

Arsenal are not going to dominate the game against Bayern. They will face long periods without the ball and Wilshere is going to have to show maturity not to lose his head and try to take on the world. His job in the midfield 3 is as a connector between the pivot and Özil.

Against Liverpool he abandoned both of those teammates and isolated them. Wilshere will need to be disciplined, calm and intelligent. If he can master that, then his technique can take over afterwards. And few can match his technique.

Bayern Munich Team News:

Bayern are without Franck Ribery, who is recovering from surgery on a torn buttock muscle. is likely replacement, Xherdan Shaqiri, pulled a thigh muscle after scoring two goals agaimst Freiburg on Saturday and also misses out.

Bayern Munich (from); Neuer, Dante, van Buyten, Thiago, Martinez, Mandzukic, Robben, Rafinha, Pizarro, Boateng, Gotze, Weihrauch, Lahm, Starke, Muller, Alaba, Badstuber, Schweinsteiger, Kroos.

Player to watch: Thomas Muller

There are many, many players to choose from in this Bayern outfit, but Muller ruins even the most organised defences with his ability to find space where none seems to exist.

His threat is almost impossible to isolate because so many of his attributes are most apparent when he doesn't even have the ball. You just need eyes in the back of your skull to see him.

Match Facts & Stats

Lukas Podolski plays against his old club.

Arsenal have lost both knockout contests with Bayern Munich in the competition. They were eliminated 3-2 on aggregate in 2005 and on away goals in 2013 after a 3-3 aggregate score.

Arsenal have lost their last three home games against German clubs in the Champions League (v Schalke and Bayern Munich last season, v Borussia Dortmund this season).

Bayern Munich have won their last two away games against English teams in the Champions League, both with a 3-1 scoreline (against Arsenal and Manchester City).

Arsenal are the only team, alongside Real Madrid, to have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League in every season since the new format in 2003/04.

Arsenal have lost only three of their 18 Champions League knockout games at home (10 wins, 5 draws): against Chelsea in 2003/04 (quarter-finals), Manchester Utd in 2008/09 (semi-finals) and Bayern Munich in 2012/13 (last 16).

Bayern Munich have reached the final of the Champions League in three of the last four campaigns.

Bayern Munich have won their last five Champions League games in the knockout stages (13 goals for, 1 against).

Arsenal have scored eight goals in the Champions League this season, all from open play and inside the box.

Ref Watch:

Italy's Nicola Rizzoli officiates this one.

Match Prediction:

I'm afraid I just see Bayern being too powerful. I think they will come away with a 2-1 win. Muller and Mandzukic for Bayern, Cazorla for Arsenal.

Next Fixtures:

Arsenal play at home to Sunderland on Saturday. Bayern have Hannover away on Sunday.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday February 18 2014

Time: 10:25PM

Your Comments

When Wilshere is playing a sitting role it calls for a far more mature head than he currently possesses. Unfortunately the only way for him to acquire that mature head is to subject him to the demands of the role.
A draw is my prediction, but I think I cant be too downbeat nor the players. We can beat this team and I think that rests upon us not conceding at home. Our defence is good enough to make that happen.
Unless he can have a mature, disciplined game, Jack could cost the side with the frequency with which he gets caught on the ball. Bayern's quick players would punish such carelessness, instantly. This is a game that would be both tactical and yet open, at different stages of the 90minutes. Somehow, I foresee a much stronger display by our boys and hope to see the full compliment of our older German contingent- Per, Poldi, Ozil.
My starting line up would be : Szczesny, Sagna, Per, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Ox, Ozil, Rosicky, Giroud, Podolski. Cazorla and Jack may come on late on, for Poldi/Giroud (if Poldi is allowed a full game) and the Ox, respectively. Of course, I know Wenger would start with Jack, so I can only hope it all goes well. I do expect a positive, defining result for us. Come on, boys. Let's do this!
I don't think we'll lose this home game, but Bayern I can't see us beating Munich over 2 games.
'And Olivier Giroud is terrible in the box.' - lol
Naija, I would go with your team barring the fact that one would pick Cazorla ahead of Poldi to control and retain possession a bit more. But lets face it, AW trusts Jack in big games and may pick him ahead of Cazorla or Rosicky.
I can see us getting outclassed tonight, this will be a complete step up from anything we've faced this season. Could really have done with Ramsey's energy in a game like this. I predict the same scoreline as last year: 1-3.
Worried about the game tonight to be honest. Don't think Giroud has the mobility to trouble and stretch the Bayern backline. Think we might nick a draw but need all our players playing at their top level before we can even think about a win.

Theo and Ramsey are real big misses in games like this.


Galway Gooner
I am going with LD, the Oracle. He has been spot on with his predictions and given Bayern's form a 2-1 scoreline is more than decent in the general scheme of things.
Did Giroud sleep with Wenger's daughter or something?
Who would have guessed it. Sanogo over Giroud. It will provide an unknown element to it, though. Confident start.
Sonogo doing good lately. Good pressure arses ;)
HGH Magic
We are playing without fear. Love it, I tell you.
Great call. PENALTYYYYYY....
HGH Magic
Hope we don't rue that penalty miss by Ozil. What an opportunity to go ahead and put them under pressure.
Tie over.
Why is Mesut taking our penalties?! Gosh!
e dubbz
Bayern don't need any ref help to win.. why the hell do they get it then.. Tie over.. but I just wish we could have gone 1-0 up.
Why is Szcz a red and Boateng a yellow? This is ******** ridiculous.
The concern is that we've run out of enough options to change things from the bench. Not sure why the ref issues our keeper a red after considering Boateng's foul only good enough for a yellow. Last man. Same conditions. Work that out
Frustrating to say the least , Naija. Not that I expected to get past Bayern over two legs even with a full strength team.
Conceding that second goal was just stupid. What the hell was jack thinking with that free kick!? And muller scores from the area Koscielny has vacated going up for the free kick and he's knackered getting back. We had half a chance at 1-0.
lol quiz: What did Arsenal park tonight? a) Train. b) Bus. c) Caravan. d) All of the above. e) Boeing 737. Submit your answers to the Specialist in Failure. Lol
HGH Magic
and wat the hell is happenning to ozil.he just cant be bothered the last couple of months
Sometimes, we just need to play a little bit smarter. With an opportunity for a FK, with the game so hard already, we needed to pass that ball around instead of hitting it long to Kos, surrounded by two defenders. Not the smartest decision there. Is Wenger afraid to sub Ozil or what? I wouldn't take the Ox off with Ozil just strolling around the pitch, unless he has called for it, himself.
Again, I forgot to add...Lol.
HGH, good to see you back here in high spirits again. By next week, it could be your side out of all the cups, you know? "Park"? Isn't that the Chelsea "how to beat better sides" Manual?
It didn't work against Bayern Munich in the super cup, did it?
Well that didn't go well did it! Shame really looked as though we might have got something out of it early on. First Ozil's penalty miss and then Gibbs injury which was a bit of a turning point having to refocus the defence once he'd gone off. Would he have been more alert to Robbens movement which led to the penalty than Monreal who would have been a little cold to the action? Shame to lose but can't help feeling it might all have turned out a bit differently.
Just to play devil's advocate, if instead of a keeper it were a defender coming out to meet Robben with his foot so high does the ref give a foul for dangerous play?
Anyone else notice once Gibbs went off we lost all our attack down the left. I like Gibbs alot, I wish he had better luck with injuries.
I find ourselves in the same shoes as L'pool.. We just don't have the squad to win the Champ League.. Arsene handed Bayern initiative even without the ball kicked by naming Sanogo ahead of Giroud. Time and again we give ourselves a mountain to climb by getting ourselves a red card.. Lehmann, RVP, Diaby now Sczesczny. I'd be more than happy to go out of the CL if it means we can double our efforts in the PL and FA Cup. CL just needs to wait another season with better attacking players on board.
It was a good contest for 40 mins and it could have gone very differently. Even though the margin of defeat was the same as last year, our performance was better this time around. One poor mis-judgment from Szczesny which has affected the tie - no doubt that it was a penalty and sending off. A pity. Bayern are going to be more wary this time around and I don't see a repeat of last year's 2-0 away win.
Things did go against us a tad, it was a very good game 11 v 11 and we had the measure of Bayern. But there isn't a team in Europe that would lose by less than 2 goals to this lot with ten men. Not just going down to ten, but we were denied two substitutions because of a keeper red card and an injury to Gibbs. It meant we couldn't get any fresh legs on bar Rosicky. I find the comment that Özil doesn't care quite ridiculous. He played at left back for about 50 minutes last night!
Little Dutch
Apparently Ozil was 3rd in distance covered last night, a few metres behind Wilshere in 2nd with Flamini topping the list.
Shame really, that pen abso effed us, it's a laughably bad one as well and i'm afraid it's unforgivable to do it twice. There are a few adages to that effect as well i believe. Gibbs has to be sold, he can't play 90min of football consistently and it's of massive detriment to the team & squad as a whole, Wenger needs to be ruthless. Like he was last night with Giroud/podolski for some reason.
Presumably Rosicky, and RvP before him, should also have been sold purely based on their injury records?
How much of an integral part of the defensive unit did either of those players play?
Depends to what extent you subscribe to the concept of defending from the front I suppose but is there any greater mitigation for such a knee jerk reaction if it's applied to a defender?
If your first choice left back can't stay fit, what's the point in him? I'm not blaming Gibbs he's just clearly too fragile. There's more mitigation in forward players being more injury prone, yes, as they rarely (in Wenger teams) occupy one position such as a set member of a back 4 does.
I'd begun to doubt whether Gibbs was first choice but even so I'm not sure why being first choice left back might be more critical than first choice forward or midfielder though I agree that Gibbs has been injury prone, as has Rosicky and as was RvP for a time. Wilshere seems a little frail around the ankles and Ramsey has had a couple of long spells out too.
Best we could hope for considering how the game went, if we're honest we never really expected to beat them with the injuries we have. What is really shocking is how a club with 120m cash in the bank has such a poor striker that a 20 year old unknown is selected ahead of him against the best team in the world. Shocking management from Wenger not getting in a replacement for Giroud either during the summer or in jan. And the really sad thing is that Sanogo already offers more movement and options for our midfield, because he can actually run, than Giroud ever has!
Galway Gooner
Maybe the forward Wenger wants is only available this summer? Sanogo looks promising though raw naturally but, depending on the results the team earns, supporters will tire of him just as they tire of Giroud and everyone eventually. Until we sell them at which point they often become indispensable.
Well he wanted Higuan, who was definitely available last summer. But maybe the forward he wants is only available if and when he chooses to buy him, it'll make a lot of people feel better about the cash in the counting house.
LD - what manner of a fanboy spin?! “But there isn't a team in Europe that will lose by less than 2 goals to this lot with ten men.” Really? Like seriously? Well, doesn't that sound condescending and preposterous to you lot? Gooners? Lol. Doesn't that indeed make your leader a “specialist in failure” after all? that is, losing acceptably to any proper opposition by your logic? Remember the only London club to win the Champions League? Yes, you guesses it; The Pride of London, Chelsea! Well, they blitzed past Barcelona 10 v 11 enroute taking the ultimate prize, the "Big Ears" home in 2012 babyyyy. Go figure! Lol
HGH Magic
"go figure" LOL. Where'd you watch the final?
By the way you're talking on here i'd hazard a guess you've never been to London, the only stick i take from Chelsea fans is those that actually are fans - you're clearly not one of em, bye.
Higuain was available but he was probably always going to Napoli knowing they had agreed to sell Cavani. Which is why his reported transfer fee suddenly jumped from £23m to £32m. In any case Higuains figures, especially if you consider that Serie A is weaker overall than the PL, aren't really very different from Giroud's. If we'd shelled out £32m for him he'd be taking plenty of flak too.
LD, I saw those distance covered stats on Ozil, watched the game again and had to do a retake on my earlier thought that he should have come off instead of the Ox. He did work very hard and still had the energy to try to take the ball for runs upfield, only to be upended by 2 or 3 Bayern defenders, because there was little support. We have to put this game behind us, play the 2nd leg with freedom and see where it takes us. What we must avoid is to look to win the tie at all cost (I also feel Pep Guardiola wont allow the complacency that Heynkes did in the reverse fixture last season) as it may prove impossible to defeat Bayern at home this time. We need to focus on the league and FA cup now.
Higuain's got 1 more goal in 2 fewer league appearances, he's a better footballer but at the same time a different footballer, the team would have to play slightly differently. I don't watch enough Serie A but from what i've seen of it this season compared with the Prem i don't think there's too much of a gap.
I think he's got 2 more in one more league appearance than Giroud though he has only completed 9 games. He gets subbed off a lot. There can be many reasons for that of course. I'm willing to assume he's a better player (he cost £32m so he must be mustn't he????) but there isn't a great deal to suggest he would have changed much for us or to say he would fit any better into our current style of play. He didn't really fit into Real's that regularly. My point is that maybe Wenger just didn't see him as being an improvement in which case it's understandable if he prefers to wait to get what he wants.
I'm confident Wenger will go out and buy a striker this summer but I hope it'll be someone more established. Since we already have our budget striker, his backup and the promising kid, nothing else would make sense. That means upwards of £30m, and although the price tage alone are no guarantee of anything, that's where we need to start looking. We could with it someone with some steel too too, as we need a bit more of that in the side.
HGH must be from some ******** South Asian country. .
From the udpates provided by Podolski on Facebook and Twitter, it appears Ozil is aware he's getting a bashing from fans. One thing this season has shown is that we are able to bounce back from disappointment so I'm expecting that to happen again. We need to get 3 points on Saturday somehow and then we have a week off to recover and take stock. Just can't believe how many times circumstances conspire against us, whether it's Lehmann in the CL final, the Eduardo incident, the Koscielny/Sczc mix-up in the Carling Cup final, Toure giving a penalty away in the CL semi-final against Liverpool, Gibbs falling over against Man Utd in the CL semi-final, van Persie getting sent off in the 2nd leg at the Camp Nou, and then yesterday. Quite a list! It's as though the footballing gods don't want us to win.
The media and pundits are so determined to be proven right that they have somehow placed this "flop" tag on Ozil; our fans have jumped on the bandwagon too and now, it will be a test of his mental fortitude for him to return to his high level. The criticism he has received is rather unfair and Wenger would have to make a decision about his involvement this weekend. Play him and he would be under pressure to do well. Don't play him and the media would start another "Arsenal in crisis" blitz, plus Ozil's confidence may be dented.
Vin, They are mostly individual errors, symptomatic of a team that's not quite mature enough to control critical moments in the really big games. I wouldn't blame the footballing gods for Szczesny's mis-judgment. We are still unable to cut out lapses of judgment - Koscielny need not have attacked a free kick in the 86th min when we were 1-0 down. We may not have conceded the 2nd goal and the narrative could still have been a lot better if we were going to Munich only 1-0 down.
I'm not sure that almost any decision Szczesny might have made in the situation he faced would not have been a misjudgement. If he stays on his line then Robben, unchallenged may well have scored any way. Equally Szczesny may have got to the ball or may have effected Robbens ability to control the ball without making contact with the player. He certainly tried to avoid him at the last moment. Similarly, the team was criticised against ManU for not showing enough adventure yet Koscielny can be criticised in this game for showing too much. We may not have conceded the 2nd goal if he'd been less adventurous but we may well also have equalised. Misjudgements are only misjudgements when the ball doesn't bounce for you.
Prits, I completely agree about Koscielny going forward at that stage of the game. It was a poor decision with us being down to 10 men and completely tired. Had we stayed 1-0, winning 2-1 in Munich is still a tall order but not impossible. Now we have to score at least 3 and win by a 2 goal margin.
It was the wrong decision because we conceded the 2nd goal though had Flamini shown more awareness maybe it wouldn't have been the wrong decision. On the other hand had we fashioned a goal we would only have needed a 1-0 in Munich or a 2-2 draw. The point being is that it is possible to deem it a wrong decision only in hindsight and only if it doesn't work out. Sometimes you just have to risk that the decision may be wrong.
The worse decision was the one to play the free kick forward, with only Koscielny threatening for us, in between two defenders. It is now a question of ifs and buts, however, Szczesny had little choice but to narrow the angle available to Robben; he did try to avoid him and on that alone, the officials should have been more lenient. I am not too confident we can win the tie in Munich (that would be an upset of gargantuan proportions) and would rather we turned attention to the domestic trophies. I would like to be surprised, though.
I wasn't deeming it a wrong decision in hindsight, I was screaming at the TV for Koscienly to go back at the time. It was an avoidable goal to concede and an unnecessary risk; I'd say there's more chance of us conceding than scoring when we've played with 10 men all game and it's our central defender that's gone up for the free kick. I don't think you'll find many managers that would say that was the right decision even before the goal was conceded.

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