Arsenal’s Champions League dream returns tonight in a fixture that will hopefully rival Manchester City vs Barcelona for excitement but see the home side get a better result against one of the European giants. The Gunners will tonight welcome German super club and current holders of the Champions League trophy, Bayern Munich, to the Emirates for the first leg of the last 16 round.
Prior to this fixture Arsenal returned to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup. The result came after a disappointing nil-nil draw against Manchester United, and a very poor display at Anfield, in which Liverpool won 5-1 in the league. Arsenal’s tough set of fixtures hasn’t started off quite how we would have liked it to, but a positive result against Guardiola’s Bayern tonight may change our perspective.
Bayern Munich, who are also winners of last year’s German Bundesliga and cup, come to the Emirates determined for the win and driven with confidence. They have not faltered in their season like Arsenal unfortunately have, however despite the clear differences in teams it is a fact that the German club still recognises that Arsenal could cause an upset. Both Muller and manager Pep Guardiola have made it very clear in pre-match interviews that Arsenal is well respected within their camp and it will not be a pushover.
Furthermore many would agree that the Gunners are in better shape to face the opposition this time around than we were last year. Last time we met Arsenal were going through a tough time and was lacking quality and a confident mentality. Although we may still be going through a difficult period, we are still in a good position in the league and we certainly have more quality on offer, it’s just whether the quality players decide to turn up.
Tonight is a massive game for Mesut Ozil in my opinion. If he doesn’t turn up he will be made a mockery of and so will the Gunners because our performance will drop. It’s difficult and ridiculous to rely so much on one player, and for the majority of the season we have been lucky to have many players pulling their weight at once, however a good performance for Ozil is key tonight. With a number of names rested against Liverpool at the weekend, Arsene Wenger should put a very strong line-up out. I would expect:
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Cazorla Ozil Podolski
It seems strange to leave Oxlade-Chamberlain out considering he is in a good run of form, but I cannot think of who he would take out to play the 20 year old. Wilshere possibly, but losing Flamini would be a mistake, as would either Cazorla or Podolski. Giroud, although not in the greatest form must lead the line again and hopefully he will be able to get his head onto the end of a couple of crosses for the Gunners tonight.