Arsenal vs Bayern Munich
Champions League, 2015-16 Time:
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Live stream: On BT Sport from 7pm
Arsenal host Bayern Munich on Tuesday night and know that another defeat would all but see the club fail to make the knockout stage of this year’s Champions League, from what on paper looked like a manageable pool.
Unexpected and highly disappointing defeats away to Dinamo Zagreb and at home to Olympiakos have left the Gunners on the brink, with back-to-back clashes against one of European football’s top club sides set to test my betting bonus.
Optimism amongst the Emirates Stadium faithful has improved after consecutive 3-0 victories over Manchester United and Watford respectively, but the Bundesliga champions will pose a much more thorough test.
Arsene Wenger is familiar with the task that awaits his team, with Bayern eliminating his side from the Champions League in the last two campaigns.
Both times the Premier League side have had periods of the respective games looking on top, with a 2-0 win at the Allianz Arena in March 2013 standing out in the memory.
However, under Pep Guardiola the Bavarians continue to improve and this season look like an unstoppable force domestically and one of the favourites to lift the European crown they won in 2013.
Bayern have won their last 12 competitive games in all competitions and for Arsenal to suffer a fate different to a host of the visitors’ conquered opponents Wenger will know that his team needs to be at its best.
The Frenchman stated that the weekend win over Watford was perfect preparation for the midweek clash and pledged to field a full-strength side this time round.
The form of hotshot forward Alexis Sanchez is a reason for belief in the home faithful, but the side must perform in a similar fashion to the devastating first 20 minutes against United if a momentous victory is to be achieved.
Arsenal vs Bayern Munich team news
Wenger is sweating over the fitness of Brazilian centre-half Gabriel Paulista, who did not play at the weekend at Vicarage Road but could be available to feature against the Bundesliga giants.
Apart from this and the continued absence of long-term casualties Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky, the Gunners are expected to be at full strength.
It will be interesting to see whether Wenger continues his ploy of starting David Ospina in cup competitions or if Petr Cech gets the nod. Bayern have a number of star names unavailable but still boast a travelling group full of world-beaters. Ageing wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery remained sidelined for Guardiola’s men, with the responsibility of providing thrust in wide areas handed to summer signing Douglas Costa. Mario Gotze is another that will not feature, however Kingsley Coman is likely to take his place in the attacking ranks. Defensive pair Holger Badstuber and Mehdi Benatia are both harbouring injuries and will not play.
Arsenal vs Bayern Munich possible starting line-ups
Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott Bayern: Neuer, Rafinha, Boateng, Alaba, Bernat, Lahm, Alonso, Alcantara, Costa, Muller, Lewandowski. Key facts In nine league fixtures this season, Bayern pair Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller have scored five more goals (21) between them than the entire Arsenal team (16). Robert Lewandowski is currently the top goalscorer in the Bundesliga, Champions League and Euro 2016 qualifying. Bayern have scored 29 goals in nine Bundesliga games this season and only conceded four.