Can Arsenal Prove They Can Hurt Bayern?

Arsenal's frenetic start in the first leg had Bayern rattled before Wojciech Szczesny's sending-off. Playing with the same creativity and fearless streak would engender real belief...

Last Updated: 10/03/14 at 16:27 Post Comment

Latest Articles

New Striker Not Liverpool's Priority...

19 comments

The burden on Liverpool to replace Luis Suarez's goals will be reduced if they can work out how to stop conceding them at the other end. Will Brendan learn from Mourinho?

United Can't Rely On Force Of Personality Alone

28 comments

With only two weeks to go until the start of the season, Man United still have plenty of work to do in the transfer market. It seems the enormity of the task is dawning on Van Gaal...

All Articles

It is enormously difficult to preview a Champions League last-16 second leg in which the away side already trail 2-0. Against most opponents, Arsenal would face an unenviable task to reach the quarter-finals. Against the German treble winners, the word 'impossible' is not an overstatement.

Forget last year. If anything, the curious complacency Bayern showed that night should work against Arsenal on Tuesday. Pep Guardiola has warned that "it is still a dangerous situation" and his players will be keen to avoid the nerves that crept through the team when they lost 2-0 to the Gunners in March 2013. The abiding memory of that fixture is that Bayern were horrendously wasteful; the prominent point from their record over the last two years is that profligacy is not usually an issue.

A 6-1 win away to Wolfsburg at the weekend said as much. The victory marked a new record as Bayern became the first club to win 16 successive Bundesliga matches. It was their 49th league match without defeat - matching the Invincibles' run in 2003-2004. In the last 20 home league games Bayern have scored 69 goals and conceded just 11, while they have dropped just six points from the last 123 available in the Bundesliga. And, as this paragraph exemplifies, they make statistics sound boring - something that has become a hallmark of greatness in the modern game.

This is not to say that Arsenal can't hurt Bayern, and for 37 minutes of the first leg - before Wojciech Szczesny's sending-off - they were fearless and creative. For the first eight minutes, it even seemed probable that the Gunners would secure a famous victory. With Yaya Sanogo commanding in the final third, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bombing forward and Mesut Ozil threading passes like a naughty seamstress, there was genuine hope of sneaking an advantage. As German journalist Raphael Honigstein tweeted: 'Bayern were totally rattled.' It was just a shame that Ozil let them off the ropes with his poorly taken penalty.

But Arsene Wenger will know to repeat the plan. As I wrote before the first leg, Oxlade-Chamberlain's dynamism is crucial to unlocking Ozil's majesty - a player Guardiola insists he "doesn't want to see on the ball" - and that combination has offered promise in recent weeks. With Olivier Giroud returning to form, claiming four strikes in his last three matches, Arsenal should push for an opening goal that could cause Bayern to sweat. They aren't used to going behind, after all.

There is also a slight advantage for the Gunners in the fact that the pressure is off. Nobody expects them to progress, nobody expects them to win, not many expect them to even find a goal. In a season of enormous improvement and challenging on three fronts, this is a rare situation. Between now and the end of the campaign, Arsenal play ten matches in the Premier League to try and close the seven-point gap to Chelsea and in one month's time they face Wigan at Wembley with their best chance to win silverware for three years in sight. If anything, the seemingly impossible task at the Allianz Arena offers brief respite in an already hectic schedule.

And how far could another strong performance push them? The 2-0 victory in Munich last March was not enough to progress to the quarter-finals, but it did banish the lingering anxiety of domestic cup exits to Blackburn and Bradford, and Andre Villas-Boas' claim that Arsenal were in a negative spiral. The Gunners ended the season with ten wins and two draws in their final 12 fixtures to claim fourth place on the final day. A repeat of that run this year might just result in the club's first title in a decade - and it could all start with another impressive display against Bayern on Tuesday.

Matt Stanger - he's on Twitter.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

A

deadwood 11 and not an arsenal player listed. Heady days.

EssexGooner
The Pre-Season 'Is He Still There?' XI

W

ithout doing any research I would have to say that Richard Wright is the singular most successful ex Ipswich Town player I know. Yes, thats what the kaleidoscopic whirlwind of highs and lows feels like supporting the Tractor Boys. In other exciting news I saw two, count them, TWO squirrels today. What a start to August.

hump3.
The Pre-Season 'Is He Still There?' XI

F

eels cruel. Like he's holding onto a baby seal just because he enjoys occassionally clubbing it.

HarryBoulton
Mourinho: Torres not leaving

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Premier League: Paul Lambert delighted to have Roy Keane at Aston Villa

Paul Lambert is enjoying working alongside Roy Keane, a man he sees becoming a key figure at Aston Villa.

Premier League: Joel Campbell wants Arsenal chance after latest loan link

Joel Campbell is hoping to be given a chance at Arsenal this season after spending the past three years out on loan.

Premier League: Nemanja Matic confident Chelsea will mount title challenge

Nemanja Matic believes an improvement in 'small games' will see Chelsea pushing for the Premier League title.

Mail Box

Plenty Of Reasons Why Lukaku's Worth It

The mailbox defends Everton's enormous outlay on Romelu Lukaku, while we also have mails on Spurs and Suarez. Oh, and worrying about the new magic spray...

Sterling Stuff And Other Friendly Thoughts

We have one reader reaching conclusions from last night's friendly while we have others discussing Romelu Lukaku's move to Everton. Oh and some swearing...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property