Arsenal – Bayern Munich. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Circumstances Dictate a Big European Night

The Champions League group stages, often enough, are a straightforward procedure for a team like Arsenal and present more trouble with figuring out how to keep the team ready for league matches on the following weekends.  Not this time.  The draw looked fine, maybe not for winning the group, but certainly for qualifying for another round of eliminations.  Bayern Munich would make that first goal difficult, but Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos didn’t appear so daunting.

To borrow a very tired saying…that’s why they play the matches.  Losing the first two and now sitting bottom of the group on zero points, Arsenal have to take on Europe’s most dominant team so far this season and, somehow, claw their way back into the reckoning.  Bayern have yet to lose or draw a match—in the Bundesliga nor in the Champions League.  This is a team on fire, full of confidence and looking for opportunities to show their quality.


But, like they say… that’s why they play the matches… 😀

Arsenal have looked MUCH better since that loss to Olympiakos 3 weeks ago.  Two 3-nil victories in league play and almost all their first teamers jetting off to play with their national teams AND returning home both uninjured and with renewed confidence on the back of goals and team success have helped ease the pain of losing to the Greeks.

Returning to Champions League football, of course, makes the wound fresh again.  The team—and the home support—in my opinion, however, should be looking at this one as an opportunity to see if Arsenal can take their game not only to a rebuilding Manchester United team (nor a solid, recently promoted group from Watford) but to perhaps the most in-form club in all of Europe.  Daunting, yes; impossible or unimaginable, no.

That’s not to say we don’t have psychological barriers to hurdle if we want to create the night we need in North London.  Bayern have been a thorn in our sides in 2 of the past 3 seasons, not at the group stage, but in the round of 16.  Both times, Pep Guardiola’s team beat us in our own stadium and effectively ended the two-legged tie on our turf.

The first time, in 2013, goals from Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Mario Mandzukic were too much to overcome in the return leg (which Arsenal won 2-nil).  In 2014, despite an early penalty won by Mesut Ozil, we were undone when Ozil failed to convert it into a goal and when, not long after, Arren Robben, with not a small measure of theatrics, won his team the double whammy: a penalty in the box and the sending off of goal-keeper Wojcheik Szczesny.  Even though Bayern also missed their penalty, playing a man down was too much, and Arsenal conceded two goals (to Kroos and Muller) in the second period.  In the return leg, a 1-1 draw was plenty to see Bayern through to the quarterfinals.

Those home matches will be psychological scars Arsenal must put behind us.  It should be noted, however, that among the principal characters for Bayern listed above, Kroos and Mandzukic now play their football in Spain, while the Flying Dutchman (Robben) is out injured.  Only Thomas Muller remains, as does the considerable threat his intelligent running brings to the front of the Bayern attack.

Of course, up and down their line-up, Bayern have great players.  Some of those I admire most are German World Cup winners Philip Lahm and (goalkeeper) Manuel Neuer.  They also probably have the most in-form striker in all of world football, Robert Lewandowski.  Douglas Costa, attacking from a wider area, is not far behind.

Arsenal’s first eleven, however, are no slouches and they should be able to take the pitch with plenty of confidence themselves.  Mesut Ozil, coming off a goal and three assists in those last two matches, will be keen to show his fellow Germans, many of whom he played alongside in winning the 2014 World Cup, that he is enjoying his football at Arsenal.  Alexis Sanchez, a new acquisition since those eliminations vs Bayern, scored 3 goals in those matches and a couple more with the Chilean National team.  Perhaps most importantly, we now have a world class goal-keeper of our own, Petr Cech, one of the very few who can compare career statistics with Neuer.

I don’t see any major surprises in the team-sheet for this one and expect no changes from the squad which faced Watford on Saturday, except perhaps on the bench.  Manager Arsene Wenger will want no excuses for this one and has even eliminated the worry (or was it a promise?…) about David Ospina starting our Champions League matches.

Bench: Macey, Gabriel, Debuchy, Gibbs, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Campbell

What about tactics?  Having complete command of the group (mostly due to our failures), Bayern may be tempted to try to kill this match with possession and may be quite happy with a draw.  Guardiola may also wish to conduct a master-class in tika-taka and might be content showing that he has the better footballing team even if the goal count remains even.  As such, I think Bayern will be more eager to limit our threat rather than show off their own.  Starting solidly and maybe finding some runs in behind Bayern’s back line will be necessary if we’re to get the goal which might have them come out a bit further.  Both teams will want to avoid their tendencies towards playing too high a back line.  Personally, I would love to see some pointed chasing from Theo Walcott at least putting some stress on Neuer’s desire to be the world’s best ‘sweeper-keeper.’  Pouncing on an error or two at the back of midfield could be the way through for either team.

It could be a barn burner or it could be a chess match.  My hope is that Arsenal take the pitch with confidence and belief and see the match as a chance to test themselves against the very best.  There’s no room to hide against a team like this, so, in truth, I see no alternative.

Just my view, as always, of course.  Over to you…

by 17highburyterrace

37 thoughts on “Arsenal – Bayern Munich. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Circumstances Dictate a Big European Night

  • 17ht,

    Good preview.

    Starting the same line up against manu** will let us have the we-can-win mentality. But we must not rush to get goals, else we will see a very good opoonent countering us.

    in a little more than 19hours we will see the match starting, so lets sit back and relax.


  • HT, excellent preview. I expect same line up as you. Giroud has served his suspension, so him on the bench instead of Campbell.

    Gaudiola is too much of an idealist. Every match is an opportunity for him to grow and get better equipped for tomorrow. His team’s standing on the table is nearly irrelevant to him. So I expect to see the same Bayern.

    They will dominate possession, compress the field, and play high back line. The high back line means Theo for us instead of Giroud. Forced to play mostly deep, makes Per’s awareness more critical than Gabby’s proactive style.

    We got a good chance to come away with a win. But caution should not be thrown to the wind, as a draw can still see us qualify.

  • Thanks Seventeenho and well done to produce this on your European travels. 🙂

    Agreed on the line up although I am sure Ollie is available for this one, no? 💥

  • This is a big game for Cazorla as he will hold the key between being compact and solid on the one hand and make quick switch overs on the other hand. He is not that strong defensively, especially when we get stretched, so Wenger might go for the more all round ability of Ramsey next to Coquelin, with Ozil on the wing (in a free role) and Santi in the hole. That’s what I would do anyway. Should be a big game but I am not sure whether it will be televised in the resort we are in. CoYG!💣💣💣 💥💥💥

  • Hi fellas… Of course, Giroud on the bench…It was very late when I finally put this one out… Sorry. In truth, this is one where I might start big Ollie, but if he keeps getting goals off the bench, that’s not so bad either…

    In Barcelona for this one and hoping I can find a place which will tune it on the television. Barca play Bate tonight so it could be difficult.

    Speaking of Cazorla… Over tapas last night my boy had a bottle of water…brand name…Cazorla, so maybe that’s a sign… 😀 I really don’t see Wenger breaking up the CoCa wall, TA. Instead he may put a word in Rambo’s ear to sit back a bit more than usual to help out. Versus United I was impressed with the number of times Santi snuck in and poked the ball away from United players to Le Coq and other teammates… Like the mosquito that keeps buzzing around your ear and won’t let you sleep…

    Anyhow, here’s hoping for the best…

  • I’ll have to disagree with you there TA. Definitely wouldnt put Santi in the hole, we need him to dictate play from deep. He is key for our transition from Defence to attack. Though I think we might see Ramsey tuck in alongside Coq and Santi in a 3 man midfield. This may be the ideal way to deal with Bayern, with extra men in midfield to assert control and most importantly, help deal with the winger threats in Douglas C. and Mueller.

    After the Watford game, I was thinking, could we deploy a central striker pairing of Theo and Alexis for this game? Deeney and Ighalo caused mayhem to our best defensive partnership in Per and Koz, so could and should we do the same against Bayern?

    If we’re still not winning with 20 mins to go, I would love to see Ox come on in a central position. His directness might be just what we need.

  • Good to see you here, Shrillex. Whether Santi starts in the hole or as box to box, he will playing quite deep anyway, as Bayern will push us back. So in the hole, he can quickly launch Ozil, Sanchez and Theo, and even Rambo as our box to box midfielder, and yet he is less of a danger to us defensively. Rambo and Coq would be awesome in the double DM pivot imo.

  • 17, agreed Wenger is likely to stick with the CoCa wall, but it would not be my choice.

    Cazorla water….. With a saintly taste.. 🌄

    Hope you find a place to watch the game, should not be a problem.

  • Shrillex, I like your 4:3:3 for today’s match. A middle of CoCaRam, front 3 of speedsters, to give a compact formation equipped for counters. Bayern’s field compressing ability will demand the above of us. Santi, imo, is so mature in his awarenss of defensive shape that coupled with his offensive brilliance he is a jewel playing deep. Rambo is not on the same level of defensive awareness but compensates with his large engine. Those mid 3 compliment each other so well that it is possibly our best set up against Bayern.

  • Helloooooo, people! 😉

    I think tonight will be about pressing their defenders (that’s where Welbeck would have been very useful 😦 ) and forcing them to make mistakes. Their only defeat this season was inflicted by Lord Bendtner. 🙂 Guardiola will pay special attention at Theo as Theo wrecked havoc against his Barcelona.

    I think Rambo’s role is going to be huge as well. He performs well against teams that play with three in the back-line.

    Douglas Costa is the one to watch. He is a real talent, 10 assists in 8 league games.

    Whatever happens tonight – COYG!

  • The change to a 442 seems to be doing us wonders. Still kinda worried how Santi is on the right though

  • Well guys, am not able to watch the game in the resort where I am staying, as only two restaurants are showing footie and it is of course the other group match… 😫

    Really happy we made it to half time as Wenger will help settle the team and instruct them how to win. Shame Theo’s effort was saved, apparently phenomenally by Neuer. CoyGs!

  • Great atmosphere at the Emirates last night.
    Great to see our team playing the European game, playing a more disciplined game based around a solid defence and looking to take Bayern on the counter.
    Petr Cech wax superb and showed how we’ve missed a goalkeeper of his quality for such a long time. That extra bit of quality makes the difference…

    The free kick that led to the first goal reminded me of a few George Graham European nights… If was great to see us mix it up and if certainly unsettled Bayern who must have expected a different, more familiar Arsenal, to turn up…

    Admir, I thought that Costa was a really dangerous player, he gave Bellerin a real education, that’ll put him in good stead for future games of this nature…

    Delighted to see Giroud and ‘put himself about’…
    Maybe he needs to start against Everton?

    Monreal was fantastic, he certainly had his hands full with Muller up against him…

    Loved watching Lewandowski.
    It wasn’t his night, but what a class act.
    Wish we had him…

  • Total, that was the only downer for me, Olympiakos winning…

    I reckon we’ll beat Zagreb and a draw in Munich isn’t out of the question.
    But we’ve never won in the Olympiakos stadium, so that could be a real shit or bust occasion?

  • Guys,

    Everyone did well, especially to our defense who gave their all. And we have our signing of the season delivering another goalkeeping masterclass, along with Neuer, who is equally excellent, if not for the strange dip on Santi’s freekick which allowed us to score.

    The second goal seemed a lucky one, but the extra ref at the posts did an amazing job to deem it had crossed the line.

    Ollie is at his best form, coming off the bench to score again, in a game that i felt the high Bayern line helped our pacy wingers run the show.

    Everyone was on top form, and lets keep that form until the last game of the CL and PL.


  • Giroud is a perfect super-sub – four out of his five goals this season came that way. 🙂


    It’s a real shame Dinamo made another memorable European loss at home. They usually lose games by missing dozens of chances at home and conceding bizarre goals. It’s been their faith for over 40 years. I think it’s down to their somewhat questionable success in 1966-67 Fairs Cup. After there was no winner between them and Spartak Trnava, the referee had to toss a coin in presence of both captains. He did it once but the coin fell to the mud so he had to repeat it. He tossed the coin once more. It fell to the ground and Slaven Zambata, Dinamo’s captain, jumped in the air. The thing is, nobody can confirm that the coin fell on the side Zambata had picked. He was bluffing and it apparently worked. 😮 Tonight, Olympiacos won the game thanks to Ideye Brown, the most expensive flop in West Brom history. The Nigerian fired a low shot from the impossible angle but Eduardo managed to concede that one. Dinamo hit the post twice on the other side of the pitch and had a penalty shout in the last attack. Incredible, even for Dinamo standards.

    Anyway, back to our fantastic victory. 🙂 The only flaw is Rambo’s hamstring injury. 😦 Everything worked well. Bellerin was excellent going forward. Mertesacker was smart. Čech was immense. Alexis was too tired but never gave up. Mesut and Santi delivered. Even Gibbs had some good moments tonight.

    Now – Everton.

  • @allezkev

    You’re right about not winning against Olympiacos away but let’s not forget we hadn’t needed a victory there before. All three matches were basically dead rubbers (even Thomas Cruise played there once).

    Now we need a victory there.

  • Cheers Admir, Giroud supersubs well and he is the ultimate professional. I feel we should start him against Everton to give Theo a rest; we don’t need another hamstring injury.

    Allezkev, we have a chance to qualify but whatever happens we will need at least a draw in Athens. More important for me is that we now beat Manure and Bayern at home in one month.

  • ‘Morning guys… I was able to watch the match at a(nother) Irish pub here in Barcelona and it was a good little scene…about 25 or 30 people split between Bayern and Arsenal supporters. The BT feed stopped a few times but seemed to pick up again after a several seconds…one time as a ball was in the air headed towards our wall of a keeper… As it stayed in the air frozen there was a fun debate as to whether it was going in or not… (Cech caught it w/o trouble). Michael Owen was just about intolerable as a color commentator…

    A couple of comments: Bayern were quite dominant, and, with post-match comments, I think that was enough for Pep and his crew (as predicted). We needed the result and it was very good that we got it. Our team is learning to play in all kinds of different styles so I don’t really worry about going to Greece and getting the victory. With Ramsey hurt, however, we’re getting very short on attacking options, however.

    I never saw the 442 (with Santi wide) as shrillex described. Ramsey was over there (when he wasn’t elsewhere) and Ox did well enough in the same area when he came on. Missing the open goal (already scored by Ozil) won’t sit well with him as he really seems to be having a (mental) struggle with opportunities and final balls at the moment.

    As dominant as Bayern was, our pace on the break was breathtaking and the balls sent into space ahead of runners were outstanding. When Santi missed one, kicking into touch late in the first half, it was a reminder that they were actually struck by humans not just sent out there perfectly by robots… Once again Theo did better with early touches than strikes on goal. Giroud was doing both, of course. With the team getting the correct result it’s hard to say, “switch ’em up” but Giroud seems the better bet at the moment but the speed on the break would have appeared different w/o Theo. If Rambo is out for a bit AW could play them together but we’re going to need Ox to be a real contributor too, playing smart (not choking those final balls) all over the pitch. As good as Bellerin is going forward, Douglas Costa’s work at the other shows he needs a partner to help out at the other end (as do most FBs confronted with class attackers).

    Most important, the match was a real continuation of the improving morale around the club. As the match wore on it just felt like Bayern were going to have to do something quite special or lucky to break us down (much as maybe we did at the other end…) and that we could hold our own with them. At 1-nil they weren’t able to really raise their game. That said, it was already at a pretty high level and the result wasn’t (perhaps) their most important objective. They’ll be keen to see out their qualification in the return match and that one might not be played with such a fine spirit as this one was. (Was there only the single yellow, against Giroud, very late in the match?…)

    Anyhow, fun times, but another good test coming on the weekend vs (wounded) Everton who will want to make up for their drubbing at home vs ManU.

  • not too much over-examination from me today as my new computer has some gremlins to sort out – the CAM software from NZXT seems to be all over the place trying to properly configure the push pull fan setup i have on the radiator – if anyone has some experience with this it would be HUGELY appreciated 🙂

    A good old fashioned nicked couple of points i thoroughly enjoyed it tbh.

    I am sure the stumbling header bundled into the back of the net after the goal keeper made an absolute mess of it will no doubt lift Giroud back into the higher echelons of striker ability and praise (especially on this site lol) but i was similarly impressed with the three or four good chances we had with Theo up front (although none were capitalized on).

    Sanchez had a game to forget and must have given the ball away in the most dangerous of places more times in that one game than OX has done during this whole season lol, no worries though as none (amazingly) resulted in a goal.

    It was generally a decent display though with an obvious game plan that worked, something many of us have been crying out for for ages and its nice to see that its employment was not limited to the Man City away game last season.

    the best two players on the pitch, forget Ozil, Walcott, Sanchez, Ramsey etc Monreal and Bellerin were the guys for me, outstanding in simply getting the job done without putting a foot wrong. A testament to the two contrasting opinions of HT and myself:
    I say over thirty is too old and loosing pace – looks like Monreal is proving me wrong
    HT says all these 19 yr olds with pace don’t have the experience to play these games – looks like Bellerin is proving you wrong.
    And as is usually the case with these things the best outcome is somewhere in the middle – a contrast of both 🙂

    watching Bellerin nick that ball at the end and run into the box to set up Ozil was the perfect cameo to why me and Gerry think Bellerin would be a perfect blend of defense and attack further up the pitch as a winger option.

    Thats all for now, back when i have sorted this computer shite out.

  • Good to see F11ngers won’t let his ‘puter probs stop him from dropping a line off the back of his boat, setting out the bait and seeing if anybody will bite… 😀

    I will… I don’t think 20 yr olds cannot play, just that not EVERY twenty year old can play. Like I’ve said (over time) if I were in London I bet I’d keep closer tabs on the youths myself with an eye to who and who might not make the jump… I also don’t like every codger who still laces up the boots. Maybe age is just a number and not the full measure of whether a player can (or cannot) contribute.

    IMO, It’s always tough to judge any player (no matter what the age) who is playing a very different level of football in whatever (other) league he might be in–or team he is on. It never hurts to describe why (or why not) you think a player will (or will not) make the grade..

    This could be a reason that Bayern struggled to look solid when we moved the ball smartly out wide and then back in again, i.e., they don’t come up against similar competition in Germany. In fact, for that sort of play, and even though it was only on occasion, I thought we looked good and strong compared to most of our games in England. As solid as Vidal and Alonso seem in working their attack and keeping the ball in our half, they rather disappeared when we broke forward. Same with their FBs… Alaba and Neuer are pretty good at mopping up, but that was a serious sitter that Theo put on Neuer’s hand…

    Agreed however, that Giroud was pretty fortunate and that maybe Bayern weren’t quite ready for his sort of play thanks to Theo…

    OK, gotta run, good luck with the tech stuff, Stevie…

  • 17, when you watch the replays, you would indeed see Santi play on the right for a 5-10 minute spell, when Thiago and Vidal were playing more central,supposedly to provide more energy to counter these two players. Then Vidal seemed to occupy the right wing with Muller going more infield, that’s when Rambo went back to the right to assume his original position.Maybe you missed it? Even the commentators on TV were talking about it, which was how I first noticed Santi on the right in the first place.

    And another interesting fact about the match, Ozil won possession 9 times to Coq’s 6… Underrated defensively, even if he did struggle at a few moments in the match.

  • Change of name in honour of our DM Beast ( as predicted by myself and Oz Gunner many moons ago ! 😀 )

    Great win and a full strength team ( as I expected ), but !………I`m like Total here in that at the moment ( and for a few years now ) I`m not a lover of this monopolised competition and fear that it will be detrimental in our pursuit of the greater (imo and Arsene`s ) prize of the EPL. I expect a tougher match against Everton on Saturday evening and would have gladly lost last night if guaranteed the win against the Toffees !
    I can see excuses if we don’t beat them along the usual lines of….Red Zone, Fatigue, Injured Rambo etc` and will be utterly pissed off if that is the case. I genuinely believe we have a chance this year of the EPL, but like Shearer and Wrighty, I only believe it will happen without CL group qualification. If by chance we have the indignity of dropping into the Europa League then please Mr Wenger use your Professor profile intelligence and common sense to play our youngsters in that dubious competition for their growth and experience …………….don’t be a mug and play the regulars which will jinx us with injuries, fatigue etc` and ruin our best chance in years of Title Glory !.
    Not so much a doom ……more a concerned fan !.

  • 20 mins writing under a new name of ….”Le Coq Monster” ….and my comment disappears !. 👿

  • Total/Admir, I think we’ need to win in Greece, to negate their victory at the Emirates, head to head and all that jazz…
    6 more points and we might squeeze through.
    7 more points and that should be enough…
    9 more points and I’ll take up wearing a kilt… 🙂

  • Following up on some of the previous comments regarding age vs experience, I don’t think you can generalise as far as age is concerned.
    Some players are more injury prone than others.
    Some players age better than others…
    It’s physiological ( of something like that)…

    Monreal hardly ever gets injured.
    He doesn’t seem to have any weight problems.
    He just seems naturally very fit and can probably expect to play to a high level well into his mid-30’s

  • hahaha just for once i wasn’t trying to bait anyone HT lol, i have enough to occupy my mind with my pc problems atm unfortunately. I was just quickly saying how nice it was to see both ends of the spectrum coming good and working well together – no ulterior motive this time, though with my track record i can see how you can come to that conclusion 🙂

  • Um.. F11ngers,

    Guys, sorry to sidetrack,

    You mean your CAM modelling software conflicted with your radiator driver?

    I am a computer guy but i have never seen this before.

    I caught the repeat of the game yesterday. It reminded me of how different Arsenal and Bayern or Barca is playing their footy. We are playing more of a all arounded footy while they are just kicking the ball around and staying compact.

    Looking at how Bayern play their high line is an absolutely no no to me. They will get skewered by our EPL teams.

    The only reason why we are more of a fight to them is due to the all rounded defense and attack stability. And Cech adds on to it.


  • JK, haha no mate i should have made it more clear sorry, its not CAM software as in modelling (although i do use it) it is a piece of software that NZXT offer with its closed loop radiators like the Kraken X61 i have installed that regulate the fan speeds on the radiator, it is named “CAM”.
    The problem is i have 4 Noctua NF-A14 FLX’s running in push pull on the radiator controlled and regulated by this CAM software NZXT provide with the radiator but it says the fans are running at 25% speed atm (i have almost no load on the cpu atm) however the rpm of the fans is shown as 1300 rpm which is their top manufacturer listed rpm. It is making a near silent set-up sound annoyingly loud and its pissing me off lol.
    There must be a problem somewhere in that chain between the fan connectors on the closed loop water-cooling system, the fans themselves and then the software which is regulating it all – so its fiddle about with trail and error time for me atm (not fun lol)
    If you can think of anything i am missing let me know mate, i would be in your debt.

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