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Preview: Bayern v Arsenal: attacker ruled out, Welbeck to start + prediction
Arsenal take on Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the first leg of our Champions League last-16 clash this evening.
We breezed in to the knockout stages of the competition and looked to have secured a more favourable draw after pipping PSG to top spot in Group A.
However, inevitably we still managed to be paired with Bayern after they finished second in Group D behind Atletico Madrid so we face the German giants in the last 16 for the third time in five years.
They progressed in each of the last two occasions in 2013 and 2014 and they are obviously the favourites to go through to the quarter finals this time around.
However, I honestly feel this is our best chance of beating them as Bayern aren’t as strong as they’ve been in the past and despite our poor recent form, this is the best Arsenal squad we’ve had for some time.
Unfortunately we head in to the game off the back of a questionable run and while we bounced back from consecutive defeats to Watford and Chelsea with a 2-0 win over Hull on Saturday, the performance was unconvincing.
We’ll have to play a lot better tonight if we want to bring home a positive result, that’s for sure.
Lucas Perez has failed to make the trip to Germany after picking up a minor hamstring injury so he joins Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla on the sidelines.
Granit Xhaka is back in contention after serving a four-game domestic ban and the Swiss international is expected to come straight back in to the starting eleven.
As for Bayern, they’ll be without centre-back Jerome Boateng and winger Franck Ribery but Xabi Alonso has been passed fit after a knee injury scare.
Arsene Wenger has already confirmed David Ospina will start in goal while Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny are all certain to start at the back.
Nacho Monreal will probably be recalled at left-back but I’d prefer to see Kieran Gibbs given a run of games as I don’t think the Monreal has been as consistent this season.
Arsene is likely to stick with his usual formation but I’d love to see him deploy a 3-man midfield with Xhaka joined by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mohamed Elneny.
That would see Mesut Ozil move to the wing as let’s be honest, Arsene isn’t going to drop him, while I’d go with Alexis Sanchez on the right and Danny Welbeck through the middle.
We’re not going to see much of the ball so we need a presence up top who’ll work hard and has the pace to cause Bayern problems on the break, and Welbeck would be ideal.
All signs point to Arsenal losing tonight to leave us starring at yet another last-16 defeat but I’m quietly confident we can get a positive result this evening. I’m not entirely sure where my confidence comes from as the players have bottled it in recent big games but I just have a feeling we’ll get something tonight or at the very least comes away with a 2-1 loss. Bayern are a top side, no doubt about it, but the Arsenal boys owe the manager and fans a performance and I think we’ll snatch a 1-1 draw.
Bayern Munich 1-1 Arsenal