With the return leg of this Champions League clash heading to Germany, this game is a must win for Arsenal. After the 2-0 victory for Bayern Munich in the first leg of this matchup, Arsenal head into the Allianz Arena needing to win to press on to the next stage. Bayern needs to only keep Arsenal out of their own goal twice and they get one step closer to becoming the first team to repeat as Champions League victors. Here are a few key battles to keep an eye out for in this upcoming game.
Łukasz Fabiański vs Arjen Robben
In the previous matchup between these two teams, Wojciech Szczesny was sent off after causing a penalty. This event created the swing in momentum needed for Bayern to swoop in and clam victory at the Emirates. Look for Szczesny’s backup, Fabiański, to come out early and make challenges on all through-balls or runs between the center half’s. Fabiański will need to make sure to stake his claim on this game from the outset; if he is too passive against the line leader Robben, this could be a long game for the Gunners.
Toni Kroos Vs. Laurent Koscielny
Koscielny was held out of play against Everton in the F.A. Cup match because of a hamstring problem; however, he does appear to be fit once again and will pair up with Per Mertesacker to lead the Arsenal defense. Koscielny will need to cover Kroos like fly covers a picnic. In the last meeting, Kroos scored a brilliantly curled effort from outside the 18-yard box, because he had time to set himself and get a clean look at goal. Koscielny has the ability to shut opponents down and disrupt their timing; this is exactly what will need to happen if Arsenal are to have a serious shot at moving onto the semifinals.
Olivier Giroud vs Holger Badstuber
With a cameo appearance by Giroud this weekend turning into two (almost three) goals against Everton, Giroud’s form is peaking at the right time. The Frenchman could be left on the bench to begin the game, as it was in the F.A. Cup; however, with Sanogo still without a first team goal, it would be a surprise to see Giroud coming on late in the game. Badstuber was brilliant against Arsenal in the first leg, disrupting the attack time after time. Giroud will need to continue this run of form and either find the net himself or help create chances with his ability to hold opponents off the ball. If he is able to do either (or preferably both) Arsenal could pull off an impressive upset.
Arsenal head into the Allianz Arena fresh from a four-goal showing in the F.A. Cup. Momentum and morale are currently high for the Gunners, as is the belief that beating Bayern on their home pitch is a completely natural achievement. Last season Arsenal were one of the few teams to actually claim victory in the Allianz Arena and could take that into this game as well. All in all this game could come down to the last few moments and should be an excellent showing from both sides.
Final prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Bayern