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PREVIEW: Bayern v Arsenal: Injury News, Preferred XI + Prediction
Arsenal are getting set to take on Bayern Munich tonight at the Allianz Arena needing to overturn a two-goal deficit to reach the quarter finals of the Champions League.
The first leg proved to be a hugely frustrating game. We came flying out the blocks and were given the chance to take a deserved lead when Mesut Ozil was fouled in the box, but the German’s weak penalty was saved easily by Manuel Neuer.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Wojceich Szczesny was then sent off for a foul on Robben and second half goals from Kroos and Muller saw us slump to a 2-0 defeat. It could have been so much different had Ozil tucked away his penalty, but at least the first 30 minutes showed we can match the Germans if we can keep eleven men on the pitch.
Clearly it’s going to be a difficult task to progress tonight. Bayern have won their last 16 games and are undefeated in 49 league matches. But we’re in a very similar situation to last year and if they sit back and try to see the game out like they did last time, we have a chance of pulling off a miracle.
If tonight’s game wasn’t difficult enough, a spate of injuries have seen the squad decimated once again. Kieran Gibbs has been ruled out after picking up an ankle injury against Everton on Saturday and with Monreal already out, we have a void to fill at left back.
Laurent Koscielny is expected to pass a late fitness test to return at centre-back, meaning Thomas Vermaelen could move across and fill in on the left.
Young striker Yaya Sanogo has been ruled out through injury while reports this afternoon claim that Nicklas Bendtner has also been left back in London with a knee problem meaning we have limited options in attack tonight. Neither player would have started the game but it would have been useful to have at least one of them available from the bench if we’re chasing a late goal.
The quartet join Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Kim Kallstrom and Abou Diaby on the sidelines. That’s nine first team squad players missing for a trip away at the European champions. Just what we need.
And of course we’ll be up against a Bayern squad that is virtually fully-fit, with their only injury concern – Holger Badstuber – close to returning from a long-term injury. Things just don’t seem fair sometimes.
The big question is what Arsene will do at left back. The most likely option will be Vermaelen will fill in. However, we need to score at least twice and I think the Belgian will severely disrupt our attacking game. The full-backs are vital in our game-play going forward so I’d prefer to see Sagna switch to the left and Jenkinson come in on the right.
The boss is also expected to stick with the Arteta-Flamini combination in midfield, but my pick would be to start Tomas Rosicky in the middle. Flamini can’t seem to go through a game without picking up a yellow card and the last thing we need is our defensive midfielder getting an early booking and unable to put a tackle in against a team like Bayern. So I’d go with Rosicky as he works as hard as anyone and his pressing will be important.
That would mean the front three of The Ox, Ozil and Cazorla would all retain their places, and they deserve to as they were all excellent against Everton. I fear that Arsene will start Rosicky in attack with The Ox missing out, which would be a shame as we really need his pace to worry them at the back.
Here’s the team I’d go with:
Let’s not kid ourselves, this is going to be tough to pull off. Bayern are the best team in Europe right now and although we did beat them 2-0 this time last year, they are actually a better side now and I don’t think Guardiola will allow them to make the same mistake again. I just hope we equip ourselves well and put in a good fight.
Bayern Munich 1-1 Arsenal COYG!!!
What team would you start? Do you give us any hope of qualifying?