Five Reasons Why Arsenal Can Beat The Champions League Holders
After a prolonged winter break, the Champions League is finally back. The last 16 draw has thrown up some intriguing ties – none more so than Arsenal v Bayern Munich. The Germans may be seen as the finest side in world football at present, but there are still reasons for Gunners supporters to remain positive:
OZIL: Proving a point
The arrival of Mesut Ozil in a £42.5million deal in the summer provided Arsenal will a real boost. Not just on the field, but off it as well as supporters finally saw manager Arsene Wenger bring in a true heavyweight footballer with the calibre and capability to lead the north London outfit to silverware.
As Arsenal’s results have stuttered of late, so to have the performances of the German. Now, pitted against a selection of his national team-mates, Ozil has the opportunity to show the watching world just why he is so highly-rated – after all, it could very well be a starting spot at the World Cup finals that he is fighting for.
POSSESSION: Arsenal can maintain a lead
No side in English football prides itself on possession more than Arsenal. Though Wenger’s men have slipped to fourth in the overall average possession charts in the Premier League this season – down to their ability to mix up play more – they are still the masters of keeping hold of the ball.
It would be realistic to argue Arsenal will need to score at least three times over the two-legs in order to progress, but if come the last 20 minutes in the Allianz Arena in the return tie and the Gunners are holding on to a slender lead, you wouldn’t bet against them soaking up much of the possession and holding out.
OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN: A route to breaking down Munich
Okay, he may not be of the same calibre as some of the Bayern superstars, though in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal have a player who can make something happen. In the month of February, he has three goals and one assist to his name – not bad going for a player who has spent most of the season on the sidelines.
The 20-year-old linked up well with Lukas Podolski last time out against Liverpool in the FA Cup, using his pace down the right-hand side before cutting the ball back for the German to fire home the Gunners second goal. His battle against David Alaba, should he get the nod, will be fascinating – and could be a defining feature if Arsenal are to prevail.
HISTORY: Arsenal know how to beat Munich
In last season’s meeting between the two, the contest was essentially over at the halfway point, as the Bavarians raced into a two-goal lead inside 20 first-half minutes. The Emirates Stadium was a bleak place at full-time as Munich retained some breathing space leading 3-1 with Podolski pulled one back for the hosts.
It was in the second-leg, however, that Arsenal showed just what they are capable of. All the talk of how many Munich would score soon turned into the Bundesliga outfit defending perilously as Arsenal scored after just three minutes, before finding a second late on. They may have crashed out, but it highlighted that they can beat Europe’s elite.
TACTICS: Learning from the past
In that first-leg clash almost a year ago to the day, Wenger opted to leave out Olivier Giroud and use Theo Walcott as the primary striker. What history tells us is that Arsenal produce better results away from home against German opposition than they do at the Emirates.
In victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Westfallenstadion earlier this season, Arsenal set out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, having to sit back for the large part before finding the breakthrough in man-of-the-moment Aaron Ramsey. Wenger’s side held out for victory, showing that, again, they can win big European clashes away from home – something which they may very well have to do once more this time around.
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