Arsenal’s European hopes rely on putting in what will need to be their best performance of the season tonight against Bayern Munich, with the North London side having it all to do.
Heading to the Allianz Arena with a 2-0 deficit to recuperate from the first-leg defeat at the Emirates Stadium, Arsène Wenger’s men face a daunting task.
Pep Guardiola’s men have won their last 13 games in all competitions and have astonishingly proved the victors in 24 of their last 25 competitive fixtures.
In the Bundesliga this term they have won all 12 fixtures on home soil, hold a 20-point lead over their nearest rivals and are unbeaten in the process, dropping only four points all season.
Arsenal potentially will go up against the most-rounded football team in modern memory, who are in devastating form and loaded with world-class players.
However, all is not lost for the Gunners.
Bayern’s last two defeats at home have both come against English sides – one of which was Arsenal last season.
Manchester City went to Bavaria and won in the Champions League group stages also.
Despite it being a monumental task, here are three things that Arsenal must do if they are to stand a chance of achieving what seems like the impossible.
Commit runners from deep
Bayern’s defence has been miserly for the last 18 months, with Guardiola’s side only conceding 11 goals in 24 Bundesliga matches this season.
City showed this in their 3-2 victory in Germany in the group stage, with James Milner getting ahead of his strikers to score the decider.
In Arsenal’s 1-0 away win over Borussia Dortmund earlier this term, arguably their top performance of the season, it was Aaron Ramsey that provided that spark by bursting forward from the centre of the park to take up numerous dangerous positions.
On this occasion, someone like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could well be the man to use his dynamic presence to get beyond Arsenal’s lone striker and cause problems.
Press, press, press
The sending off in the first leg made all the difference, with Bayern bossing possession once the Gunners were reduced to ten men.
However, this time round the English side must fight for the lion’s share of the ball and keep it when they have it.
This will need a monumental pressing effort from the front, with central midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta in particular charged with closing down Bayern ball-players Toni Kroos and Thiago Alcântara.
If Arsenal can get the ball and keep it, they have shown that they have the players in the side capable of cutting any defence apart.
Forget reputations, form and standing
On paper there is only one way this match is going, with a faltering Gunners taking on a slick juggernaut that is showing no sign of slowing.
Despite the ominous home record that Bayern have forged and their all-encompassing dominance over the game in Germany and Europe of late, Arsenal cannot afford to show their opponents too much respect.
Wenger should urge his side to attack their opponents like they would any other team and throw the formbook out the window.
It is do-or-die time for the Gunners and if they can get an early goal, Bayern’s seeming assured place in the quarter-finals will all of a sudden not look like such a guarantee.