Anyone who envisaged, Arsenal being the last team standing in the Champions League would have been dismissed without a second thought. Yet, the Gunners remain the last English club alive and the task which beckons them is seemingly an impossible one. Manager, Arsene Wenger knows all too well the enormity of the situation and has challenged his players to produce a memorable performance
“We’re chasing the game in a very difficult environment against a team that has no doubts at all. But our mentality is to go there, no resigned, but ambitious and provoke things, not go there and think we will not qualify anyway; no, not at all. We will go to Munich and have to go there and give ourselves a chance to qualify with everybody believing we can do it”
The Gunners have had a nine day break prior to heading to Germany to face a Bayern Munich side in a rich vein of form. While the words of optimism shared by the manager are encouraging, Arsene Wenger knows all too well the importance of this encounter, one which can bring back the confidence in a side, which has been at an all-time low this season. However, the approach will determine the outcome of the game even before kick-off.
1. The Attack: There has to be only one approach by Arsenal while going into this game and that’s to be positive. While the front three (Giroud, Podolski and Walcott) have to play out of their skins, the supply from midfield shall be key. The recent approach deployed by the manager in big games, to try and pack up the midfield (Cazorla on the left or Ramsey on the right) should be scraped. While, a minimum of three goals are required to ensure qualification, (considering Bayern do not score) the possibility of scraping a holding player could be an option. The starting formation has to be positive one, even if it means the Gunners have to play with three attacking midfielders on the pitch. Only a positive mind-set is required, as an early goal (similar to the victory against AC Milan last season) would bring the tie back to life.
2. The Defence: The Arsenal defence has been suspect this season. While the Gunners are sweating on the fitness of Gibbs and Sagna, the manager knows all too well, how both players with their attacking mentality can assist in taking on the Bayern backline. As for the centre-half paring, Koscileny and Vermaelen need to start the game as Bayern are a team which pose a greater threat with pace rather than aerially.
3. Substitutes: Arsene Wenger has never seemed to be a fan of substitutes. The inclusion of a new player on the pitch at half time has been a rarity. However, the Gunners manager will need to take whatever necessary action to ensure the team have an upper hand, even if it means if the situations calls for making all three changes at once.
One thing is for sure, the task which beckons the Gunners is next to impossible. However, as long there is a chance, there is no reason why the Arsenal players should have any reason to resign just yet, especially considering certain outstanding performances this season. It has been said several times during the course of the season that Arsenal do not start of games well enough and perform exceptionally well in the second half of matches. Well, its half time now and the Gunners are trailing 1-3; possibilities of Arsenal come-back in the second half?
Possible starting XI:
Szczesny, Sagna/Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen/Mertesacker, Gibbs/Vermaelen, Wilshere, Cazorla, Rosicky, Walcott, Podolski, Giroud.