Right off the bat, there’s some pretty big teams news. David Ospina starts in goal ahead of Petr Cech and I’m not all together sure I agree with it. Sounds a bit stupid, doesn’t it? I don’t agree with a manager of 30 years experience when the biggest accomplishment I can claim is leading Arsenal to a League Cup final defeat on Football Manager. I mean, what the bloody hell do I know about management at one of the largest Clubs in Europe?
That said, the choice really does baffle me. Petr Cech’s form hasn’t been bristling with electricity; he’s not performed to the levels you’d expect from a goalkeeper of his calibre. But experience in the big games he has in abundance – he is the one and only Champions league winner in our squad and that counts for a lot.
Ospina, on the other hand, does not fill me with confidence. He is undeniably an excellent shot stopper. But his all round game isn’t up to Arsenal standards and he has no small measure of the ‘Almunia’ about him. You’d could argue tonight’s match at the Allianz Arena is the biggest of the season for Arsenal against probably the strongest opposition we’ll face. In those situations, I firmly believe you play your best team available. Arsene’s faith in Ospina is admirable, but I can’t help but feel it is a little misplaced.
Hopefully, as often happens, I’ll be proven totally wrong and Ospina will perform heroics as we glide gracefully to a 3-0 victory against all the odds. Alternatively, he could have one of those moments in which he goes walkies or tries to kung-fu a Bayern forward and it serves os the catalyst for a total shambles. Preferably the former. We can only hope.
Elsewhere, Lucas Perez has joined the usual suspects on the treatment table and hasn’t flown to Germany. Cazorla and Ramsey keep him company back at London Colney. Granit Xhaka is free for selection and fit again Per Mertesacker has joined the squad. I think the back four will be as expected, with Coquelin and Xhaka starting in midfield – I’d prefer it to be Elneny and Xhaka.
There’s been some talk of Ozil being dropped, but I’d highly doubt that will happen. The only change I’d guess at is Oxlade-Chamberlain staring ahead of Iwobi as he’ll provide better defensive cover. Sanchez and Walcott make up the rest of the attack.
Given that we’re likely to be under pressure for large parts of the game, I imagine pace on the counter attack will be Arsene’s method to poach an away goal. Hopefully, there will be some tactical plan in place as I can envisage only bad things if we go out there and try to take Bayern on toe-to-toe. That’s just asking for a good hiding. We have the players capable of doing damage if we can turn over possession and break quickly. It’s the kind of game I’d like to see Danny Welbeck involved in, but perhaps his fitness isn’t quite up to it yet.
It’s a tough one to prediction as I want to be positive. I do believe we can get something, but the first 20-30 minutes are going to be vital. If we can keep our defensive shape collectively and not concede in that period, then I think we’ll have given ourselves something to build on. However, I fear if we go behind quickly the floodgates might open and the tie will be all over before it goes back to the Emirates in 2 weeks (or is it 3 weeks? I’m not sure and I can’t be arsed to look it up).
So, I’ll predict a tight 0-0 and I’d be very happy with that. 1-1 or 2-2 would be better. Well, 7-0 would be f*cking lovely, but that is perhaps a little too optimistic. I just hope we go out there and perform and give it our all. That’s about all you can ask of the players.
That’s all for today, folks. The comments await your predictions. Feel free to fire some of your thoughts my way. I shall return tomorrow to talk about the events in Munich. Until that time, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.