Arsenal welcome holders Bayern Munich to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 (11:45 AM Pacific, 19:45 GMT), in what should be an enticing Champions League Knock-out round clash between two giants of European football.
The Gunners were eliminated by Bayern in the corresponding tie last season and will probably be looking to exact revenge this time around. It was at the Emirates where Arsenal were virtually knocked-out last season after a disappointing 3-1 loss and the Gunners will have to certainly have to put in a better performance to avoid a similar fate.
Arsenal are unquestionably in better shape than the last time they welcomed Bayern to the Emirates, but the same can be said about their opponents as well, and it will certainly take a herculean effort from the Gunners to earn a positive result against arguably the best team in Europe at the moment.
Under Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich have simply been imperious. Impossible as it might have seemed last season, the Bavarian giants have arguably become even more dominant during the current campaign and their sight is enough strike fear into the opposition’s heart.
Bayern head into the game against Arsenal as favourites and are in many people’s eyes contenders to go all the way to win the tournament as well. However, the Germans cannot afford to be complacent, as Arsenal are a dangerous side on their day and can certainly cause an upset.
The likes of Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs were all handed a rest in the weekend against Liverpool, but the trio should return to the starting lineup with Lukasz Fabianski, Carl Jenkinson and Nacho Monreal making way. The duo of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker have been in fine form this season and will be starting at the heart of the defence.
Arsene Wenger will be without the services of Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott for the clash, while Mikel Arteta will also miss out due to suspension. Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Ozil should start in midfield with either Jack Wilshere or Tomas Rosicky accompanying the duo.
Santi Cazorla will start on the wings and it will be interesting to see whether young Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Lukas Podolski is selected to play on the opposite flank. Olivier Giroud looks a certainty to lead the line for the Gunners.
Pep Guardiola rested a couple of his key players against Freiburg in the weekend, but will certainly recall them into the lineup in midweek. Manuel Neuer will start in goal while the solid back four of David Alaba, Dante, Jerome Boateng and Rafinha look set to line up in defence.
Phillip Lahm has been a revelation in midfield and should retain his place despite the return of Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger to full fitness. The absence of Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri would be a blow, but Tomas Müller should prove to be an able deputy.
Arjen Robben will start on the right with Toni Kroos and Mario Götze probably providing the creativity from midfield. Mario Mandzukic has been in sensational form this season and will be leading the line for the Bavarians.
Arsenal (Probable XI): Szczesny; Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Sagna; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Flamini, Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud
Bayern Munich (Probable XI): Neuer; Alaba, Dante, Boateng, Rafinha; Lahm; Muller, Kroos, Gotze, Robben; Mandzukic
Arsenal: D W L D W
Bayern Munich: W W W W W
13/03/2013 Bayern Munich 0-2 Arsenal
2013-02-19 Arsenal 1-3 Bayern Munich
Arsenal vs Bayern Munich Prediction
It is a clash which certainly has makings of a modern day classic. The two sides are brilliant attacking teams and play lovely football. However, the onus will certainly be on Arsenal to get a victory as they are the home team, while at the same time, the Gunners will have to avoid conceding an away goal at all costs.
Bayern Munich will be looking to take an advantage back to Germany and should be set up to exploit the weaknesses in the Arsenal defence.
It could be an open attacking game and as is the case with most Champions League knock-out fixtures, a goal for either side can completely change the complexion of the game. Although, Arsenal will give Bayern a hard time, the Germans look a stronger side and will probably edge the game. Arsenal 1-2 Bayern Munich
Arsenal vs Bayern Munich Television
The match will be televised on Fox Sports 2 USA, and Sky Sports 1 (UK).