Champions League preview: Bayern Munich v Arsenal
Two defeats from their opening two games against Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb, respectively, have left Arsenal at the bottom of Group F and in quite a European quagmire. However, a stunning 2-0 win over Bayern at the Emirates in October gave the Gunners renewed hope of reaching the Champions League knockout phase. But their destiny remains out of their hands.
Wednesday’s result in Germany, for good or for bad, will not be enough to knock Arsenal out. The worst case scenario will see wins for Olympiakos and Bayern, moving the pair onto nine points respectively, with Zagreb and Arsenal stuck on three. The Gunners will then have to beat both the Greeks and the Croats, and pray Bayern do the same in the last two games.
It won’t be easy, but with Arsene Wenger’s side in fine form, and considering that crucial win over Bayern last month, there is real hope yet. Although the stats don’t make fun reading for Arsenal fans, with just 9 of the 110 teams having lost their opening two Champions League fixtures going on to progress from their groups.
Bayern, meanwhile, saw their 10-game winning run from the start of the Bundesliga ended on the weekend courtesy of a goalless draw at Eintracht Frankfurt. Such is the might of the German side that this result comes as a bit of a shock, with Pep Guardiola’s men in customarily ruthless form this season. Couple that with their loss at Arsenal last month, and you have a side out for blood and revenge.
Striker Robert Lewandowski has 13 goals from 10 games played, including that five-goal haul in just nine minutes against Wolfsburg last month, and he will be looking to inflict real damage on Arsenal come Wednesday. Summer signings Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa have both slotted in nicely to the Bayern first XI, and despite their recent ‘blip’, they’ve arguably not looked stronger on paper.
There is the possibility of a result for Arsenal in Germany this week, of course, but if they are to come away with something, they’ll have to manage it despite a growing injury list. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined the likes of Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck on the sidelines last week, both coming off injured in the 3-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday.
But the Gunners are coping well. A 3-0 win at Swansea on the weekend was their fifth win in six Premier League games, with striker Joel Campbell taking his chance in the side, bagging the third goal following yet another assist from Mesut Ozil.
Arsenal have scored sixteen goals over those five games, conceding just three, taking them up to second in the league, prompting talk of a first Premier League title since 2004. But first, an ominous date with the German champions awaits.