Did you watch the PSG vs Barcelona match from last night? As James Richardson would say, woof! What a performance from the French champions. They produced a display full of commitment, power, technique and explosion. Barcelona may not currently be the force they once were but they still needed to be beaten.
It made me yearn for a similar Arsenal performance in tonight’s match against Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena. But that’s easy for me to say isn’t it? Not going past the last 16 in x amount of years does not make our task any easier tonight against a side who are apparently in decline. A decline that sees them 7 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga having lost only one game this season. I’d be up for Arsenal having that kind of decline right now to be honest.
So what of their Champions League record at home this season? They have won all three of their games against Rostselmash Rostov, PSV Eindhoven and Atletico Madrid. They scored 10 goals in those three games conceding 1 goal. Not too shabby.
Our away record in the CL reads played three, drawn one and won two, scoring 8 conceding 4. Not sure if that actually tells you a great deal but still.
Actually what it tells you is that teams struggle to score goals in Bayern and they have a wealth of attacking talent at their disposal but we have plenty of firepower of our own and I’d love it if we played to hit them on the break. Pack our team with speed and power and pick them off when the chance presents itself.
The tie is at least 180 minutes so we have to keep ourselves well and truly in the game come the final whistle. No need to push both our full backs high into their half in the first 20 minutes and get caught. We need to be a little pragmatic tonight and there is no doubt that when we put our minds to it we can be quite hard to beat.
Last season we lost 2-0 to Barcelona at the Emirates but the goals came late, until Messi’s opener we did very well to shut them out. Remember the Cesc backheal to Iniesta? That was another top quality backs to the wall defensive performance until a loss of focus or stupidity. More recently our 2-0 win at Manchester City a few years back was another example of us defending for our lives but this time we grabbed the victory.
It is an approach that Arsene does not seem to like very much. I seem to remember Arsene being somewhat troubled by our FA Cup victory against Manchester United back in 2005 a game where we were pretty much battered from start to finish and we relied on a huge slice of luck to win the game. I'm sure I read that he never wanted to do that again.
There can be a middle ground though, when you have players like Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil we can really cause them problems when we win the ball back.
Granit Xhaka comes back from the naughty step and according to folk on Twitter, he is in line to go straight back into the side. Danny Welbeck will also start if you believe what you read. I’d be all for that and I think we will see Mesut moved onto the flank as he was at Stamford Bridge, allowing an extra body in the middle of the pitch.
I think we will look something like this.
Predicted Line Up:
Imagine Robben running down the right cutting inside Monreal, poking it to Lewandowski who tries a first time shot which is saved by Ospina’s legs, Koscielny takes a swing at the ball to clear but it hits Muller and bounces around before Bellerin cleans up, playing it inside to Mustafi who plays it on to Xhaka, Xhaka passes in between Alonso and Vidal to Oxlade-Chamberlain who bursts past the outstretched leg of Thiago Alcântara. Sprinting up field, Ox plays it wide to Ozil who swings inside on his left and slides a ball into Welbeck who bursts into the box and cuts it back to Alexis who thumps it high past Neuer to make it 3-0.
Do that for me please Arsenal, that would be quite lovely wouldn’t it? I’m not asking for much am I?
Our next fixture will be Sutton in the FA Cup and I’m pretty sure that Arsene will field a much rotated line up so there is no reason why the players shouldn’t play at full pelt during these 90 minutes.
It should make for another interesting match, I just hope we can do ourselves justice and give ourselves a fighting chance come the final whistle.