The Champions League is back! Knockout stages (Round of 16) games started yesterday with PSG unbelievably trouncing Barcelona 4-0 in Paris. Arsenal can take inspiration from PSG as we head to the Allianz Arena in Germany to play perennial foes Bayern Munich in the first leg.
Bayern Munich will miss Frank Ribery through injury but Arjen Robben is fit. Thiago Alcantara also returned from injury over the weekend. Defender Jerome Boateng is a long term injury absentee
Arsenal are still without Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla through injury. But Granit Xhaka will feature despite serving a domestic suspension.
POSSIBLE LINE UPs
Coach Carlo Ancelotti plays a typical 4-2-3-1 at Bayern so, we can expect the same in this game with Manuel Neuer in goal and a defence comprising captain Philip Lahm, Matts Hummels, Javi Martinez and David Alaba. Xabi Alonso and Thiago Alcantara will play in central midfield. Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich or Douglas Costa and Arjen Robben will play behind lone striker Robert Lewandowski.
It is difficult to predict how Arsene Wenger will set up offensively. But defensively, David Ospina will start in goal supported by Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal in defence. Arsenal have missed the guile and passing range of Granit Xhaka and he will certainly start alongside Francis Coquelin or Mohamed Elneny in central midfield. Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain although impressive lately in midfield will sadly miss out. Mesut Ozil will start in attacking midfield behind the trio of Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Iwobi or Danny Welbeck (I will prefer Welbeck).
Arsenal have never knocked out Bayern Munich in the Champions League despite several attempts but the difference this time is that we play the first leg away from home. Bayern will be dangerous as usual with their danger coming mostly from the wings especially with Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa (if he starts). Arsenal can allow Bayern have possession and hit them with pace on the counter (This is why Welbeck should start instead of Iwobi on the left). This Bayern team is beatable by all standards but we haven’t been in superb form recently. If we score first, we could surprise everyone by nicking at least a draw. I believe we will still be in the tie by the time we play the second leg. Predicting a narrow 2-1 victory for Bayern.