I was not in any mood to be creative today so I am delighted to have regular guest writer @TAnglefootball, Younis Sultan ready in the wings with a well informed preview of Tuesday’s Champions League tie with the mighty Bayern Munich. Sultan watched the Bundesliga regularly so the insight as we would expect is valuable. I will add a few thoughts at the end but over to Younis…..
After a shaky start and the predictable doom and gloom hysteria at the Emirates, a very new Arsenal team seem to have finally stabilised. In the past, no matter what was going on in the league Arsenal have always looked different in Europe, now however with this new group of players this is their first real chance to show their European hand. Bayern on the other hand are very firmly favourites and for good reason, in the league they’re flying and with 15 points and more than double the amount of goal difference between them and second place Dortmund the Bundesliga, bar a miracle, is going to Bavaria. Having witnessed their fiercest rivals win back to back titles and finish second place in every competition they entered last season including a home Champions League final, Bayern came back with few minor additions from the transfer market but with killer desire and ruthless attitude.
Evident by the start Bayern have made, rivalry, old scars and history are much more practical than in England which is why Lukas Podolski must start this game. Podolski was once one of the brightest talents in Europe and at the age of 21 secured a move to Bayern Munich. After getting off to a decent start injuries and moving down in the pecking order meant that Podolski had to leave Bayern after mustering a measly 15 league goals after 71 league games. He eventually moved back to Koln and is even to this day much maligned in the media for his spell at Bayern, some even citing this as evidence he would flop at Arsenal. They branded Podolski a failure and suggested that he could never fit in at a big club. Whilst the man himself has played down the link and not commenting much on his time there, after starting on the bench for the last three games Podolski must be chomping at the bit for a game and it seems Wenger may have planned this one out perfectly.
Despite our apparent problems at the back, Bayern’s list of viable centre back options is not very long either. It will be difficult for their coach Hynckes to finalise a strong back line.With Badstuber out for what seems to be the remainder of the season 2 of Boateng, Van Buyten and Dante have been playing in the League. Boateng however is suspended for the Arsenal game after receiving a straight red in the final game of the group stages, Hynckes may opt to play Javi Martinez at centre back and plug Luis Gustavo into midfield. Whatever Bayern decide to go with at the back it certainly won’t be totally familiar to them with 2 first choices missing. I think we all saw in the England v Brazil game that Dante is not the strongest and Van Buyten at 35 is certainly not the player he once was. The challenge for the Gunners is for whichever front 3 are selected to all be at their best from the first whistle and pace will be key.
Unlike at the back the options are there for Arsenal in attack, one of them would be to start Aaron Ramsey in place of Mikel Arteta. It’s a risk given the defensive stability Arteta has adds but there doesn’t seem to be much of that around at the Emirates anymore. Arteta’s focus and determination seems to be to his detriment, his focus on being in the right defensive position and less risky approach with the ball is sometimes a hindrance. Aaron Ramsey is more forward thinking and is an iron lungs type of player meaning he can contribute to the team in attack but also have the pace to get back and be in the correct defensive positions. This will be an important for Arsenal on Tuesday, Bayern are much more comfortable controlling the play and having more possession so it’s imperative that Arsenal attack Bayern from the off and ensure that they play a football that is uncomfortable to them and force them to try their counter.
Counter attacking is not one of Bayern’s strongest points they’re players are much more suited to having the ball and lots of it, in the League so far they have had 63.9% possession and have only scored 8 of their 57 goals on the counter. However if there’s anything we’ve learned about Arsenal in the past week however, it’s the fact that they are unpredictable. Seeing them knocked out in both other competitions by lower league opposite despite being comfortable favourites, it remains to be seen how they will handle the underdog tags.
Thanks Younis and make sure you follow on twitter @TAnglefootball. It sounds as if possession and pressing them high up the pitch is the order of the day. We are at home and the onus is on us to take the game to them, win the tie and take a lead to Germany in 3 weeks. Anything less after yesterday’s debacle is not acceptable.
From my perspective having rested him for the last 2 league games, barring a 23 minute match winning cameo v Stoke there was no excuse for Wenger resting Lukas for the Blackburn game. He is undoubtedly the best finisher at the club and that combined with his history with Bayern makes him an essential starter. Sadly it is all too late but Tuesday has to be about restoring pride in the teams performance.
I don’t generally do match previews but having learned from Younis’s insight I am inclined to agree with him that Ramsey having been rested on Saturday should get the nod but as always after a shameful defeat I naturally look to committed hungry players to pull on the red and white.
Consequently here is my probably surprising and unpopular selection:
I doubt many will agree. Most would always have Santi in the team but for me Rosicky was our only driving force yesterday. He runs for 90 minutes never gives up on a lost cause and what those in stadium yesterday will have seen and those not may have missed was that he behaved like a captain. When Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho missed chances he ran to them, patted them on the back and gave words of encouragement. He is always looking for a forward pass and never frightened to try something out of the ordinary. When Santi did come on, he like Arteta and Diaby yesterday slowed us down. TR7 was our best player against Milan at home last season nearly driving a weakened side to an improbable comeback. He dropped to the ground having given his body and soul for 90 minutes and everyone in the stadium saw what it meant, just as they see it with Jack.
This could mean Santi wide left but Podolski must play there. The only other way to incorporate both Cazorla and Rosicky is to leave out Giroud and play Theo centrally. This is the one option I would accept but still feel if we can get beyond their full backs and whip crossed in Giroud will be a threat.
My logic for having Sagna at left back is his experience and the fact that Muller frequently cuts inside anyway and rarely look s to drive to the bye-line of the outside.
Please don’t take this as me writing off Cazorla by any means as he is a super player but for this game I want freshness, passion and constant forward momentum. This is what is required to get the Emirates rocking and to make the crowd the 12th man as we were that wonderful night against Barca and Rambo, Jack and TR7 will give us that.
Having said all this some one in the Tollington before the match yesterday did point out that if I could I would have Rosicky’s babies. Funny guy you should all follow him on twitter @Alanpickrell
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