Arsenal vs Bayern Munich Preview
Nothing beats the glamor of a Champions league clash between two top teams. Although we may not be at their level in terms of sheer strength and depth but stranger things have happened in Champions league football. Our biggest enemy is going to be pressure. If we go in with a negative attitude resigned to loose Bayern will run rings around us. Best thing what can happen to us would be if go in to the game without worrying about the result. If we play with free spirit, stay organized and do not concede early who knows we may end up on the winning side.
As the recent games have demonstrated employing proper wide attacking players with pace has made a world of difference to our play. Ozil looks twice as effective when he has wide attackers making runs in to the box. Arteta is suspended which may turn to be a blessing in disguise as his legs may not exactly have coped with the rigors of a high tempo game after 3 days.
Flamini and Wilshere will be our most likely Central midfielders. Flamini needs to be disciplined but he needs to be careful as referees are less forgiving in Champions league. Rosicky has been really sloppy with his passing off late and i don’t think Wenger will be starting him. Podolski showed his effectiveness by scoring against Liverpool and he would be my pick on the left hand side although Wenger may go with Cazorla as he was rested against Liverpool.
The defence picks itself so does the Goalie. If we keep things at stalemate at half time our chances of nicking a result will multiply imho. We cannot afford to play a high line especially with the likes of Robben and Gotze up front for Bayern. We need to stay disciplined and try to hit them on the counter. Our Full backs need to be extra vigilant. The likes of Podolski and Chamberlain need to help their respective full backs in our own half as well.
Coming to our Achilles hell- the Striker’s position. Wenger’s gamble to not buy a quality Striker in the summer has not paid off. Giroud has clearly run out of steam while Bendtner is not exactly reliable. Saongo although showed good enthusiasm/athleticism/physicality /hold-up play against Liverpool he is still too young, too raw and too inexperienced to start a big game like this. I would be inclined to go with Bendtner but knowing Wenger’s lack of confidence in him it will most likely be Giroud leading the line for us. He will not get many opportunities against a side like Bayern and hence he should be much more attentive/vigilant and clinical with his finishing than he has been in the recent past.
Even the best of side are cautious away from especially against other top sides. Bayern may be the best side in the world at the moment but they definitely do not consider us as pushovers. They have top quality players in pretty much every position and Ribery will be a miss but they have quality back-up so they will be able to cope comfortably.
The back four and the GK pick themselves while Lahm operates as the midfield sweeper in front of the back four. Thiago and Kroos will be their double midfield enforcers supported by Robben and Gotze in the wide areas. Mandzukic is probably the only chink in their armor up front. As i said at the start of my post i would be surprised if they start in all out attack mode from the outset. They also employ a possession game but the major difference from us being that their passing is much more purposeful and quicker plus they have wingers and midfielders making impromptu runs which are hard to pick. They have so much talent at their disposal that invariably they are going to score. They know we an hurt them with the 2-0 loss at the Allianz arena at the back of their mind.
I think this is going to be more of a tactical game than an end to end stuff. If we soak in the pressure, stay organized, hit them on the break and take our chances we may get a result.