Arsenal’s 2-0 win against Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium two weeks ago, has given them a lifeline in this season’s Champions League. Now they need another positive result at the imposing Allianz Arena on Wednesday evening as the group stages enter a vital stage.
BAYERN’S DOMESTIC RUN COMES TO AN END
After 10 consecutive victories in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich were finally halted in their tracks last Friday evening by Eintracht Frankfurt, who held the champions to a goalless draw. Coach Pep Guardiola will now be anxious for a reaction from his team in Europe’s premier club competition with the 2-0 defeat in North London also fresh in the memory. The Catalan tactician has targeted the Champions League as his primary target this season (the best online football betting sites quote them at *4.00 alongside Barcelona, to lift the trophy next May) and although his team will certainly qualify for the round of the last 16, he will be smarting from that below par performance two weeks ago. In his pre-match press conference he stated that his team would “take the game to Arsenal”, an ominous warning for all Gunners fans.
ARSENAL WITH HAPPY RECENT MEMORIES OF BAVARIA
That 2-0 win 14 days ago has really kick-started Arsenal’s season, with Arsène Wenger’s side now sitting joint top of the English Premier League alongside Manchester City. A convincing 3-0 away win at Swansea at the weekend, was confirmation that the North London side are firing on all cylinders at the moment despite an ever increasing injury list. With their recent excursions to the Allianz Arena also proving profitable if not decisive, the side from the English capital will feel they can return home unbeaten to give themselves a fighting chance of reaching the last 16. The best sport betting sites currently price them at *2.50 to continue their participation in the competition in the New Year.
Guardiola is still without Frenchman Franck Ribery and German World Cup hero Mario Götze. Defender Sebastian Rode will also miss Wednesday night’s game and there are more defensive worries for the German’s with HolgerBadstuber and Juan Bernat also struggling for fitness. Former Roma central defender MedhiBenatia is once again available for selection, but the form of Javi Martinez in the centre of defence may tempt Guardiola to keep him in the side for Wednesday.
Arsenal’s injury crisis has deepened considerable with both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott both side-lined until after the international break. Other players who are unavailable for Wenger are Aaron Ramsey, David Ospina, Danny Welbeck, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere. The form of Costa Rican striker Joel Campbell is a bonus for the Gunners however and he could start in Germany on Wednesday. Olivier Giroud will be the focal point of attack for Arsenal, as he looks for a repeat performance of his opening goal at the Emirates in matchday three.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Bayern Munich (4-3-3) Neuer; Alaba, Martinez, Boateng, Lahm; Alcántara, Alonso, Vidal; Costa, Lewandowski, Müller
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Cech; Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Bellerin; Cazorla, Coquelin; Sánchez, Özil, Campbell; Giroud
HEAD TO HEAD
The two sides have played each other in the previous two campaigns in the round of the last 16. Arsenal managed a battling 1-1 draw at the Allianz Arena last season, but a 2-0 win for Bayern in London saw them progress to the quarter-finals. In 2013, the Gunners came away from Bavaria with a 2-0 win but once again, it was advantage Bayern who had triumphed 3-1 in London ensuring they went through on away goals. In the nine meetings between the two, the Germans hold a slender lead having won four to Arsenal’s three. There has also been two draws.
Bayern Munich 1.40 Draw 5.25 Arsenal 8.00
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)