The Armchair Gooner

An Arsenal blog bringing you news, opinion and humour on a daily basis. Well, I'll try at the very least…

Champions League: Bayern Munich (h) Team News and Predicted Starting XI

One of Jack Wilshere’s less-than-fortunate facial expressions…

Morning, folks.

They don’t come much bigger than this. When we played our German friends last year, I didn’t expect anything other than a swift exit. Our form at the time was pretty abysmal and we ended up getting a bit of a trouncing on our own turf. This year there’s that relentless spark of hope and expectation brewing inside me. Arsenal are a better team this time around and a more cohesive one.

I believe we can get a result.

It certainly isn’t an easy proposition. We face daunting opponents filled to capacity with pace, guile and strength. The diminutive Barcelona side we faced in previous competitions always looked susceptible to an intense pressuring game, Bayern do not.  Their midfield is brutally effective. Looking across their potential line-up, even with its notable absentees, finding a weakness or point of attack isn’t particularly easy.

Yet, when I cast my eyes over a potential Arsenal team to start the game, I see the ability to hurt them. We have the vision and creativity of Ozil and Cazorla – two players capable of breaching even the sternest of defences. Mertesacker and Koscielny, horrific Anfield debacle aside, have proven a formidable barrier, especially at The Emirates. Producing a victory tonight won’t be easy, but it is by no means an impossibility.

Bayern’s status as overwhelming favourites takes the pressure off. We are not expected to win, at that comes with an element of freedom for the players. The folks at RedActionAFC have planned something to help boost the atmosphere for the game and the ground should be buzzing. Kudos to them, and it’s moments like these I wish travelling to see The Arsenal wasn’t such a monumental pain in the backside for me. I might be a self-confessed ‘armchair’ fan, but nothing comes close to the buzz of being in a stadium on a big match day. I would gladly trade vital parts of my anatomy to be there.

The only change from Sunday’s victory against Liverpool is the suspension of Mikel Arteta. The Flame will take the holding role and hopefully he’ll have the bit between his teeth. The rest of the side should see the likes of Sagna, Gibbs, Szczesny and Giroud retain their places – hopefully the latter has stopped tweeting about his recent social faux pas. There has been some talk of Sanogo keeping his place, but I genuinely can’t see that happening. Given his enthusiastic display in the FA Cup, the young Frenchman might make for a useful substitute.

There is some hope Thomas Vermaelen will return to the squad also, and given our paucity of options at the back, his influence will bring a needed boost and I can rest easier knowing we have good cover in reserve. Theo Walcott remains out whilst Abou Diaby is currently embroiled in a breakdancing battle with some of the local children of Islington. He’s isn’t expected to feature tonight.

My guess at the team would be:

Vs Bayern Munich?

As you may already be aware, I tend to get a little nervy before games. Oddly enough, it hasn’t started yet and I don’t think it’s going to. The fact Arsenal aren’t expected to win means we can only exceed expectation. Truthfully, I almost at the point of zen-like calm. It should be a great game of football played between two sides with attacking verve. The players are going to be up for it, as will the fans. I’m looking forward to it and I’m unable to think or concentration on anything else.

When you have a look at Champions League betting, Bayern are clear favourites to not only progress in the tie, but eventually win the competition as a whole. Arsenal retain modest odds, but an upset of some description tonight could change that and do wonders for the team’s believe as we edge toward the business end of the season. Now’s the time for Arsenal to start putting in some really good performances and with a little luck, we might see something silver and shiny being held aloft come May.

Up the Arsenal!

That’s all for today, folks. It’s time for breakfast and the monotony of chores. The comments await you below and I hope you’ll take a moment to discuss the team and your prediction for the game. Do you think either Rosicky or Podolski deserve a start tonight? Can we beat Bayern? Let me know what you think. Tomorrow I’ll be back to discuss the game in full.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Category: Match previews
  • lance says:

    if we still even in the 70th minute , we shud bring on rosicky and poldi for giroud and cazorla. the crowd will have to play a big part in driving us accross the line.

    February 19, 2014 at 9:27 am
  • Admir says:

    Hello, James. How about that Flappy Bird, eh?

    There are good news: Franck Ribery is out due to surgery on his buttock. I’m not a doctor so I don’t know if that means Robben was removed from his behind. Ribery was out in the second leg last season and we won.

    I would pick Rosicky next to The Flame – Wilshere can be careless in defending sometimes and that’s not something we can afford against Guardiola’s Bayern. I have my doubts for the left flank – Podolski or Cazorla is the most frequent dilemma but I’d consider putting both Monreal and Gibbs (one as a full-back and the other as a winger) in the first eleven. Then again, Cazorla gave a brilliant performance in Munich, Podolski scored our only goal at the Emirates against Bayern…

    It will end 1:1, I think, with Dante or someone like that taking away the victory from our grasp in the last seconds of the match.

    February 19, 2014 at 9:36 am
    • James 'Raul' Stokes says:

      @Admir: Selecting Rosicky alongside The Flame is an interesting idea, although these are the type of games that Jack performs well in.

      February 19, 2014 at 12:32 pm
  • Tigabu says:

    I do not think so the win of Arsenal over Bayer munich because the Foolish striker oliver giroud will also alot of chance to night as usual. Ox should take rest since he was play in Liverpool clash in the FA cup and sometimes he have not consistency. he may best for one game, on the next fatigue/tired

    February 19, 2014 at 9:59 am
  • SPY says:

    I can certainly relate to this article – especially within the context “of being calm”. Arsenal have certainly matured this season and I have genuine confidence in them. For some oddly insane reason, Arsenal constantly fall short against the top English opposition, yet, they were able to beat both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena and the Westfalenstadion respectively.

    I felt that Arsenal were a tad unlucky at this stage of the Champions League last season, especially because of the nature of the goals they conceded to Bayern Munich in the first leg. Kroos’s goal was wonderful, but the other two were quite scrappy and better disciplined defending could have seen them through the first leg. What most people fail to realize is that Bayern were not complacent in the second leg either, they were actually well beaten. If Arsenal can match their second leg performance of last season over the entire tie against Bayern Munich, then i’m pretty confident that they can cause an “upset”. Even Mertesacker recently admitted that Arsenal require two perfect games if they are to beat Bayern Munich.

    @armchairgooner:

    I fancy the starting line-up and formation you have chosen. Idealy, my perfect starting line-up would have included both Ramsey and Walcott – and how defining it would have been if they were both available. I hope the real Mesut Ozil steps up tonight. I would really like to see him take more shots at goal and display a bit more aggression, especially in these season-defining games. I think Podolski will be an excellent supersub in the context of the tie.

    February 19, 2014 at 10:26 am
    • James 'Raul' Stokes says:

      @SPY: Totally agree – would love to see Mesut turn it on tonight.

      February 19, 2014 at 12:30 pm
  • nijwm says:

    @admir- yeah, i think i agree with you on wilshere. in his best form, perhaps wilshere offers much more in an attacking wise than rosicky. but he’s not playing to his best and gives away the ball needlessly a lot. if we slot rosicky there alongside flamini, we can then play chamberlain on the right.

    some people have felt that rosicky should play on the right and ox be sacrificed while whilshere retains his position alongside flamini. but i think the ox is the one who looks like a match-winner right now, and he’s the only one with pace and penetration that can really trouble bayern’s fullbacks. anyways let’s see. a 2-1 or a 1-0 victory would be grand.

    February 19, 2014 at 10:34 am
  • diaby says:

    We don’t want giroud, use poldi as the top man, or hopefully sanogo.

    February 19, 2014 at 10:43 am
  • Darma says:

    LORD BENDTNER you beautiful bastards, tell them about him Raul, tell them!!! We need NB23 in this game.

    February 19, 2014 at 11:42 am
    • James 'Raul' Stokes says:

      @Darma: I can think of plenty of things we need for the game. I’m not sure ‘Lord’ Bendtner is one of them :)

      February 19, 2014 at 12:31 pm
  • osahi says:

    I would prefer Ox in Wilshere’s place, Ozil in Ox’s, santi in Ozil’s and Podolski in Cazorla’s. Wilshere has been losing balls a bit too much lately. Could come on as a sub. Ox is more disciplined to play with Flamini. Santi playing behind Giroud can get in shots for us, being two-footed. Podolski will increase attacking threat.

    February 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm
  • jomiloju says:

    Our midfield should be santi, ox, ozil, flames, wilshere and should strike

    February 19, 2014 at 1:20 pm
  • jomiloju says:

    Poldi should strike, he knows more about d German club.

    February 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm
  • mav361 says:

    Heir’s Ozil & Mertisacker and hopefully Poldoski will definitely be up for it tonight no worries, they are up against half their teammates from the German national team and they ain’t gunna want to go to the World Cup listening to them lot take the piss for a month or two that’s for sure

    Love the quote “Zen-like calm” that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling all day but now I’ve just come though me front door and it’s only a couple of hours or so to KO I feel a bundle of nerves and I can see a few trips to the john coming up in the not too distant future…………..

    2-0 us ………….

    February 19, 2014 at 7:11 pm

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