What can Arsenal expect from Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich?
Arsene Wenger will take his Arsenal side to Germany having lost two of their last three matches, while coming through their Champions League group unbeaten, having scored 81 goals in all competitions while keeping just 13 clean sheets in 36 matches.
In other words, we have no idea which Arsenal side will turn up at the Allianz Arena this week.
But what can we expect from their opponents?
While they struggled to get going under Carlo Ancelotti at the start of the season, Bayern Munich head into this contest in great form.
In fact, 11 wins from their last 12 games in all competitions makes this their best run since 2014.
So how do Arsenal stop their opponents?
In truth, we don’t even know where to start.
With the likes of Arturo Vidal, Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski, Douglas Costa, Renato Sanches and Thomas Muller all fit and at Ancelotti’s disposal, you’d have to fear for Arsenal’s back four.
Six of Bayern’s last seven goals have been scored by different players, so it’s difficult to single out one name in particular for Arsenal to try and mark out of the game.
Of course, much of the attention will be on Lewandowski. Already with 23 goals to his name in all competitions this season, Bayern have won all but one of their games in which the Poland international has found the net.
Stop him, and the Gunners have a great chance of getting a result.
Only four sides have scored more than Bayern so far in this year’s Champions League. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund are three of them.
But the other is Arsenal.
So do the Gunners play their opponents at their own game?
They’d be wise not to.
The last side to score five goals past the Gunners was, surprise, surprise, Bayern Munich. And Wenger started that game with no less than five attack-minded players on the pitch.
For Gooners feeling optimistic about their side’s chances, they’ll be delighted with the news that Xabi Alonso will probably join Jerome Boateng and Franck Ribery as being unavailable for selection following an injury picked up in training.
It’s worth noting that Bayern’s last defeat came when the veteran midfielder didn’t play.
Here’s even more reason for Arsenal to be hopeful…
Wenger beat Ancelotti’s Chelsea 3-1 the last time the two managers met in the dugout.
That’s about it.
The last time Arsenal topped their Champions League group (2011-12), they got knocked out in the last 16, losing 4-0 away from home in the first leg.
The last time Arsenal met German opposition in the last 16 (2013-14), they lost 3-1 on aggregate (to Bayern Munich).
The last time Arsenal had a Last 16 Champions League match directly after playing against Hull City, they lost 2-0 to Barcelona.
The stats aren’t really favouring you, Mr Wenger. It’s time to go out and prove them wrong.
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