With Arsenal’s return leg Champions League match against Bayern Munich this forthcoming Wednesday night at the Allianz Arena in Munich, there are many (if not most) who believe it is just a formality for Bayern to get through to the next round, particularly in view of their 3-1 demolition of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on 19th February 2013.
However, it takes a brave man who thinks Arsenal can score three and not concede, but if that does happen, it may yet just be one of the all-time best comebacks. If Arsenal were to score three and concede only one, then it goes to extra time and even penalties. Any football fan will tell you if it gets to that stage, then anything can happen. Although we can’t rely upon it, Bayern’s history with penalties is nearly as good as England’s!
Of course, reading this you will say I am totally bias or deluded. Well yes, I am (bias that is… not deluded!) but the pressure is actually on Bayern, not Arsenal, as no-one expects anything other than a complete annihilation of the Gunners by the Germans, who in 35 games have only conceded 10 goals to date. They have the additional advantage of playing at home before their own fans too, so that makes life even more difficult for the Gunners. However, an under pressure Arsène Wenger will if nothing else want to prove a point. There is pride to play for, and no matter what you say about Arsenal, they always without exception have a strong finish to the season, particularly when things seem impossible.
Nuts or crazy I hear you say… I am neither (really) and although the bookies rarely get it wrong, I wouldn’t rule it out! – Here is why I think there may be some sort of semblance of hope on Wednesday night…
Although Bayern have a strong squad, they will have four key players missing on Wednesday night through either injury or suspension:-
- Franck Ribéry who is ruled out with an ankle injury.
- Arjen Robben, who is doubtful due to injury (not sure what… Attitude maybe!)
- Bastian Schweinsteiger who is banned
- Jérôme Boateng, who is also banned.
Naturally, there is plenty of class in their team without the missing four, but three, if not all four of the players mentioned above have been more than key to Bayern’s success this season and they WILL be missed.
Reality says not only is it a very tall order, as Arsenal do have to score more goals in one game against Bayern than they have conceded at the Allianz Arena all season, but it would be foolish for anyone to say it is impossible, although it is probably unlikely…
Arsenal do have one slight advantage over Bayern in that they will have had ten days off since the defeat by the Spuds on the 3rd March. Will they use it to their advantage? Will they be fresher than Bayern? Do they really want it? Let’s hope so!
Go 4-4-2 Arsène
I was at the Emirates for the first game, and Bayern systematically tore Arsenal apart all over the pitch. They seemed to have three men to every one of ours when we had the ball. Personally, I believe Wenger had the wrong formation to counter Bayern at the last attempt, but ultimately, he is far from a stupid man so who am I to question him… Well actually, I am a supporter, so yes, I do have an opinion and I believe (that famous Wenger saying) Wenger needs to do something different if not outrageous and unexpected. An early assault is key, no doubt. None of this come out in the second half nonsense and start to play. No, they need to be on it from the kick-off. An early goal would not only settle the nerves, but show Bayern that Arsenal are not just an inferior team as Arjen Robben suggested after the last encounter.
I was asked to pick a team and a system for Wednesday night, I would go with a 4-4-2 formation… Starting from the front working backwards, I would play Walcott and Giroud up top, (despite Giroud left wanting against Tottenham Hotspur) with a midfield of Jack and Cazorla in the middle. The Ox on the left and Arteta on the right (weird I hear you say!). Ideally, I would like to see Rosicky in there somewhere, but we all know he won’t be risked for 90 minutes. The back four we don’t have much choice over, but I would hope that Jenkinson gets a chance on the right. As for left back, again, it looks like Vermaelen with Monreal cup tied and Gibbs short of playing time – if he has even recovered, and no choice but to play big Merts and the Kos in the middle. As for the keeper… let’s hope Szczesny can actually get his sh*t together and stop doing his Basil Fawlty impressions!
It looks like Podolski is out anyway due to injury or illness, but I wouldn’t play him from the start regardless, maybe an impact sub at best… As for Mr Forehead (Gervinho), hopefully he won’t put on an Arsenal shirt ever again! – As for a super sub, again I am sure I will be ridiculed, but I would bring on Mr Ashavin towards the end and play him through the middle if Cazorla is left wanting and then of course there is Diaby, assuming he is even fit and in contention.
I’ve spoken at length about the team and who I would play to my pal ‘H’ (you remember, the not so fat London taxi driver); he says differently. He is going with a different formation of: – 4-2-3-1 – Brave, I have to say, but his team is as follows: – Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Vermaelen. Two in the middle… Jack and Diaby. Then a three of: – Walcott, Cazorla and (wait for it…) Gervinho, with Podolski alone up top. If Podolski is unfit, he would put Mr Forehead (Gervinho) up top on his own, and bring in the Ox in place of Podolski.
Everyone has their opinion… What is your team and who would you play on Wednesday night? – Let us know!
I accept that no team in Champions League history has previously qualified for the later stages of the competition when conceding more than one goal at home in the first leg, but there does have to be a first time for everything… doesn’t there? Both Inter and Ajax have gone into second legs away from home previously and overturned 0-1 defeats, so why not Arsenal… Because it is three goals I hear you shout!
Arsenal has previously gone abroad in the Champions League and against all odds come away with a victory… Real Madrid springs to mind! – Thierry Henry scored that night… There was no Van Purse Strings and Walcott was on the bench. Their team had names such as Casillas, Roberto Carlos, David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo (the original) and Robinho to name but a few… Raul came off the bench as did a certain Julio Baptista (remember him!)
I wouldn’t stake my house on it, but I think there maybe a few surprised people come 10pm GMT on Wednesday night… Crazy or just wishful thinking… there is still something in my gut telling me this tie is not over just yet!
Of course I would like Arsenal to win, particularly as we would be the only English side left in the competition, but there is something inside of me that would take the greatest of pleasure seeing those smug gits on Sky Sports who have Arsenal consigned to the knackers yard… eating their words! – Can you hear me Mr Jamie Redknapp?
Come on you Gooners!