Arsenal prepare to welcome defending European Champions Bayern Munich to the Emirates on Wednesday night, in what could be billed as a season-defining clash for the Gunners. February has been a month where Arsenal have seen their season crumble in the recent past and there were fears that the Gunners would suffer a mid-season crisis during the current campaign as well, after their stuttering form in the league recently.
However, Arsenal displayed remarkable resolve in overcoming Liverpool in the FA Cup during the weekend and now will be looking to claim another scalp with a good result against an all conquering Bayern Munich side on Wednesday night. Arsene Wenger will be well aware that his side have to perform out of their skins in order to stop a Bayern side heading into the game in imperious form, but with Gunners enjoying a fine season themselves, Wenger’s men should not fear the Bavarian giants in front of their own fans.
Although Lukasz Fabianski put in a fine performance against Liverpool in the weekend, Wojciech Szczesny should return between the sticks against Bayern. The Pole had a endured a torrid time against the German side last season in the corresponding fixture and will surely be looking to make amends this time around with a solid performance.
After the debacle against Liverpool in the Premier League, the Arsenal defence has again gained its confidence back with a couple of good performances against the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in the FA Cup.
The centre back pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are certainties to start, but there will be changes in the full-back positions as Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna should return to the lineup to replace Nacho Monreal and Carl Jenkinson from the side that beat Liverpool. Against a Bayern side full of attacking talent, the Gunners back-four will certainly have their work-cut out to prevent the German side claiming an away goal.
Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini will probably start in central midfield, while Mesut Ozil should be deployed in the playmaker’s role. Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky will also be in contention, having enjoyed a rest against Liverpool in the weekend.
Santi Cazorla returned from illness to make a cameo role against Liverpool and the little Spaniard may be handed a start on the wings. It will be interesting to see whether Wenger elects to go with the youthful energy of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or the experience of Lukas Podolski on the other flank. Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott are ruled out with injuries.
Yaya Sanogo led the line in admirable fashion against Liverpool but it will be a huge surprise if the youngster retains his place in the lineup ahead of Olivier Giroud in midweek. Giroud has endured a tough week due to personal reasons, but Wenger should be confident that his star striker is in the right state of mind ahead such a huge clash.
Szczesny; Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Sagna; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Flamini, Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud