How to beat Bayern again: Ozil as ‘free CF’, Bellerin and Alexis on wings, Giroud extra midfielder/attacker?!

Has Alexis been saving himself for this one?
Has Alexis been saving himself for this one?

We will do a proper match preview on Wednesday, but let’s use this post to discuss how we will beat Die Lederhosen for a second time this season. I like to hear your tactical, formation and player inputs on how to get the job done this week.

The context is very exciting: Bayern have six points from three games and so do Olympiakos; Arsenal and DZ have three points each. The fact that we beat Bayern by 2-0 means that the Germans are in a more precarious position than many think. They will have to beat us by more than two goals to make sure that if we end up with the same points, they will go through/win the group because of better one on one results. They are of course three points ahead of us right now, and a draw or win would keep them ahead of us, but they might still have to beat Zagreb away and Olympiakos at home to be sure of qualification (and there are many thousands of Greeks in Germany who will do everything to get a ticket and support their fellow countrymen: a home win against them is certainly not a given). This will become especially interesting if Arsenal were to beat Die Lederhosen for again and the Greeks would beat Zagreb for a second time, moving Bayern to third position overall.

Bayern are said to be keen to take revenge and crush us if they can, but they cannot be gung-ho about the way they approach this match. We know that we can play solid and compact and can hurt them on the counter, even though Theo will not be available to torment their defence. As Seventeenho pointed out in the last post, the good news from the Swansea encounter is that we did not lose any more players to injury. We will not have much on the bench in terms of attacking midfielders and strikers, but our first eleven can certainly do an effective job.

Although I would like us to play more football than we did against them two weeks ago, I reckon we will simply have to sit back and absorb the pressure. Bayerlona are set up to dominate and strangle opponents in their own half and, as with any Guardiola team, they cannot be broken by playing the usual Arsenal-Way football.

Although I would prefer Theo to Ollie for this one, I still reckon the Frenchman can make a big difference against Bayern. He will have to work his socks off to chase their defenders and force errors. OG and Ozil are capable to hold up the ball between them for a second or two, allowing our wingbacks and ‘wingers’ to get involved in the game and for Cazorla to move forward a bit to pick the right pass. Both Ollie and Mesut can also pick a deadly pass, although not many give Giroud credit for this. Once the ball is out to the players on the wing, they will have to combine cleverly and quickly to avoid, or deal with, the almost inevitable ‘press’, and our triangles will need to be sharp. But I reckon Bayern will be more nervous than usual that Arsenal can both play on the counter and combine quickly enough to create real opportunities from turnarounds. They will be hoping for an early goal to settle their nerves and play with more composure from then on…

It will not be easy on Wednesday, but there is confidence in the team that we can frustrate the Germans and pounce on our inevitable opportunities to kill them on the break. The team picks itself to a large extent, given the injuries and the sort of game we need to play. I would start with Cech, Debuchy, BFG, Koz in the ‘back five’ and the wall of CoCa – Coq and Cazorla – in front of them. I would be tempted to play Ozil as our ‘free to roam’ CF and Giroud as an additional midfielder/attacker, with Alexis and Hector Vector on the ‘wings’, to both add defensive support and speed to frighten, and indeed hurt, the Germans. Having that speed on the wings will be key, and so is having Ozil in a free role to find and use the available space to the max. This way he will produce his passing magic or win us vital seconds to launch our attack-minded players forward, which could make all the difference.

So this is my Arsenal line-up for Wednesday:



—————Wall of CoCa—————



But what is yours and why?

By TotalArsenal.

27 thoughts on “How to beat Bayern again: Ozil as ‘free CF’, Bellerin and Alexis on wings, Giroud extra midfielder/attacker?!

  • That is such a radical line up, Bellerin in front of Debuchy. Only trouble is with Debuchy because he has not exactly performed creditably when called upon (and I know he would get better with a run of games). So, I would have Flamini in front of Bellerin, as RB; just to keep things simple. In another scenario, I could have Gabriel at RB with Bellerin in front of him, since we would be doing a lot of defending. It’s going to be a long night, Wednesday.

  • At first blush I really liked your lineup TA– still do– but.
    If Ribery is back– feel I’d rather have Hector at RB.
    Frank Ribery is a horse. A fast, quick, powerful thoroughbred.
    Putting a game-rusty Debuchy on Ribery may be a difficult ask.

    But yeah, the mouth waters at the prospect of the blazing countering pace your lineup offers.


  • My line up
    Gabriel Mert Kos Nacho
    Cocq Cazola
    Bellerin Ozil Alexis

  • Goonereris,

    I like the thought of Flamini on the right as it would make us solid there. I reckon Debuchy is ready and will be great in defending in tight areas, and with Bellerin doubling up, I reckon Bayern will have little or now fun on our right. But when we gain the ball, I would love it that we can launch both Alexis and Bellerin in a flash.

  • Cheers JW1, we will be forced to play so deep that I am not worried about any rustiness of Debuchy. I saw him live against the Owls last week and he loved his hunger. But yeah, Bellerin will have to help him, no doubt about it!

    What are you up yo these days…still throwing frisbies? 😜

  • Are u mad? Did u see Debuchy against sheff wed? He is absaloutey terrible and shiuld never play for us again! Joel worked his socks off why drop him? What more does he have to do? If we gonna be a little more defensive then play gibbs up on wing but not Debuchy please!

  • Same team that won last time, Giroud in for Walcott there’s simply no other option atm. And Joel in for Ramsey, not really much of a decrease in ability or performance considering how Ramsey has been playing recently.
    Job done, no need to do much over thinking from my point of view but hey when have i ever agreed with Wenger lol.

    My line-up then:



    ————–Le Coq———Cazorla————-



  • I would prefer us to start in pole with Cech and I will like us to watch on our defence cos dey will be coming dis time with a lot of attacking minded game!!!!!! I would prefer

  • Just because Campbell had a decent game against Swansea, doesn’t mean we should play him again, his third game in eight days, against the top of Europe. Our first interest is to defend and a combo of Debuchy-Bellerin makes me feel much better than Bellerin-Campbell. But each to their own of course. 😇

  • Interesting post Total…

    Walcott caused Bayern a lot of scary moments in the first game.
    His pace was a constant concern to them and meant they couldn’t compress the play completely, although they did dominate most of the pitch most of the time…
    For that reason, I did wonder if Wenger might risk using Campbell up front with Flamini slotting into the Ramsey role, Giroud on the bench and the rest of the team unchanged from the 1st leg…
    With Flamini, there’s always the clumsy late challenge and yellow card just waiting to happen. And playing Bayern with 10 men is unthinkable.
    So I binned that idea and came around to the more likely Campbell on the right and Giroud up front…
    Not as imaginative as say Ozil up front, but then Wenger does tend to be a tad conservative in his team selections.

    My biggest worry is the Flying Dutchman, that is Arjen Robben, the Dutchman who loves to get into the box and go flying…

  • Hey Allezkev 🙂

    I reckon Robben will struggle to get past The Big Cheese and Sanchez will also be snapping away at him, and then there is Le Coq to send diving Robben flying where it does not hurt us. 😳

  • Total, I would take a draw mate.
    But it’s gonna be a great game and I’m really looking forward to it.
    Nobody give us a chance.
    Vidal reckons we shouldn’t bother turning up.
    Lahm reckons Bayern are gonna make us pay, or words to that effect.
    It’s all good knockabout stuff.

    And Arsenal are at their most dangerous when written off… 😉
    Night mate

  • I am as brave as you TA.

    One of the planks for our strategy must be our acceptance that Bayern must compress us, and that the available response to their possession might, is two banks of four from where we we coil out at every opportunity in a quick counter. Two banks of four shapes up as a 4:4:2.

    Sitting deep and narrow demands that defending becomes more of blocking the passing lanes and intecepting passes and less of tackling. This is a portfolio suited to Debuchy’s experience that would reduce the effect of elements of rust still in his game. His inclusion in the last bank of four frees Bellerin to join the 1st defensive bank of four.

    For offense purposes this 1st bank should contain (1) a speed star -Bel, (2) a player who can work the ball out of tight spaces – Santi, (3) a creator – Ozil. Of course sitting deep and compact, means the need for the 1st bank to be great tacklers becomes less critical.

    Alexis stays as one of the front 2. His high risk high dividend style of play, which is very suited to counters, cannot be accommodated in any of the two banks of four because of its high ball turnovers. We luckily escaped paying severally for it in the Bayern match at the Emirate. Pep must be poised to press him into high profile turnovers this time around if he drops too deep.

    Giroud’s lack of pace might be more than compensated for by his ability to bring elements from the 1st bank – Bel, Ozil, Caz – to join in the counter attacks.

    My preferred line up is therefore;


  • PE 🙂

    I like it a lot and good point on Alexis. It would probably turn out to be more like 4-6, but once we have the ball there is a lot of quality to hurt them…

  • I do not see Wenger tampering with the back 4 or the combo of CoCa for the purpose of continuity and cohesion. This is a game where defending is extremely important the longer it takes Bayern to score the more frustrated and confused they may be. So defence is more important in this game than attack, therefore Wenger would not disrupt defence to enhance attack. By your formation both defence and attack would lack cohesion. I expect repeat of Swansea team

  • You may well be right, Siyanbola. The beauty is that Debuchy is an experienced FB and Bellerin is both a full back and a great wingback. We cannot afford him to do the latter a lot, but, by giving him the support of Debuchy as our ‘first RB’, we would have both a great threat going forward AND double defensive cover. And remember, Bayern will force us to play very compact anyway, so the speed of Bellerin is best utilised ahead of RB Debuchy imo.

  • Good comments guys,

    I feel that le Prof will not be so crazy to change the core of the team that keeps winning games.

    He can play Campbell up front with Flams on the right wing, but he cannot and should not change other of his players around.


  • I was wondering about that submission myself. Lol. My guess is Wenger would retain his usual core with the significant change coming on the right side.

  • Hi fellas… Back on the ground in California and well rested but with a ways to go re:the time changes…The photo from the previous page was near the ski museum (Holmenkollen) so suburban Oslo if not the city proper… Still a nice sunset, I think… 🙂

    TA, you’re not leaving much for me to write as a match preview! 😀 Like you say the team nearly picks itself. New readers (cheers for posting your comments!…) shouldn’t be put off by the ‘radical’ formations. I believe Total is talking about what will happen in the actual match, not the way they list things on the television coverage.

    I think we’re likely to see an unchanged 11 from the Swansea match, but, f you look at it the way TA is describing it, the in-match positioning will be very fluid. This is another benefit to Campbell’s presence and the overall effect of the extreme injuries we’ve got in that right/free/attack position, the spot on the pitch, in our current group which allows (perhaps) the most freedom of all. Like Ramsey and the Ox (and Theo), JC can cover plenty of territory and help the team over in that basic area as (obviously) his fullback, Hector B, can too. This allows the likes of Ozil and Giroud to drop deeper to help with hold up work and springing us on the counter. It’s true, Ozil could end up as our most forward player but I don’t think it’s his best spot, esp. against a team as dangerous as Bayern, Instead, I’d creep Alexis and Campbell up that way to avoid them doing too much work on the ball too deep. Let’s not forget that Alexis had some very bad giveaways in our half in the first match…

    So, fluidity (interchanging positions) is good and, if we can nick a goal I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it came from one of our Spaniards (Santi or the two FBs) sneaking into a scoring position. Let’s not kid ourselves, however. Bayern are both motivated and stacked with quality from front to back. We were fortunate to not face Ribery and Robben in the first match. Both are healthy this time. Lahm, Vidal, Xabi Alonso and Thiago can all pull the strings and are not such easy guys to dance around if we get on the ball and then there’s finishers like Lewa and Mueller (and others who can pop up like Douglas, Alaba and Bernat and Goetze…) who won’t tend to spurn chances as they did in London. Getting out of there without any injuries and feeling like we presented them with a challenge is good enough for me. Then we just have to win our last two (and score enough goals) and assume Bayern beat the Greeks… On the other hand, this is the big stage so a great test for our group and our fine players. Why not?…

  • Good to hear you are back, Seventeenho, and I trust you had a safe and comfortable journey to your 2000 meter above sea level kingdom? 🙂

    Really good comment and mostly agreed. I would be surprised to see Campbell starting again tomorrow, but most of you seem to think this will happen and that it is a good idea. For me, Bellerin at RM would be an excellent move. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

    Yes Bayern have a great ensemble of players and it will not be easy, but we have a good chance to get something out of the game, as long as we do not concede really early.

  • Hey TA, We’re still not back to the homestead…Today we drive back across the state and hope there’s not too much snow on the roads…

    I can write something early morning tomorrow but that will be just 4-6 hours ahead of the match… IMO, you’ve already hit on most of the important notes…

    Yes, I think getting in a double FB set up on one side or the other (Bells ahead of Debs, Gibbs ahead of Nacho) makes sense and, of the two, I’d go for the Bells-Debs combo… Still, Joel Campbell, as frail as he might appear, has a better engine than you’d think and I still remember him doing pretty thankless work for Costa Rica in the World Cup when their keeper would kick the ball up to him and he’d try to kill 30 or 45 seconds fighting for it against 3 or 4 defenders… I think he went the better part of 120 minutes in the round of 16 and then again vs your country in the quarters… Using him, of course, leaves us with very little (Iwobi?… anybody else?…) in terms of attacking presence on the bench. Watching Iwobi up in Sheffield I had the impression of a guy who both needs to grow into his body and is absolutely not ready for prime time. The Allianz may be a tougher ground (even…) than Hillsborough… 😀

    OK, gotta stay after it… Cheers again for everything out your way…

  • Okay, safe journey home then 🙂

    Good points about Campbell’s fitness and he will be as keen as anybody else to win for us. Indeed, we also need something decent on the bench so that is another reason for me to not start Campbell..

  • We don’t need to do a preview, Seventeenho, but if you have the time and energy I am sure you will come up with an interesting angle. Up to you buddy. 🙂

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