With the January transfer window ending, all eyes now shift to the UEFA Champions League knockout stage. The match-ups for the Round of 16 are as follows
- Atlético Madrid (Spain) Vs. A.C Milan (Italy)
- Chelsea (England) Vs.Galatasaray (Turkey)
- Borussia Dortmund (Germany) Vs. Zenit (Russia)
- PSG (France) Vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
- Real Madrid (Spain) Vs. Schalke 04 (Germany)
- Arsenal (England) Vs. Bayern Munich (Germany)
- FC Barcelona (Spain) Vs. Manchester City (England)
- Manchester United (England) Vs. Olympiacos (Greece)
The football gods have blessed us with the tie of Arsenal and Bayern Munich. This is a rematch of last years memorable round of 16 matchup, which Bayern won on aggregate. Arsenal is a point from top of the English Premier League table at the moment. In Germany, Bayern is dominating its rivals having a comfortable lead of ten points. Both of these teams are playing top-flight football and proverbially taking names domestically. It seems impossible to think one of these teams could lose.
It really comes down to how well Arsenal manager Arsene Wegner and his side defend the array of weapons that Bayern possesses. Most importantly stopping Munich’s strikers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Ribery and Robben can take over games with their pace, dribbling and great distributing ability.
When in form there is no stopping “Robery”. Bayern will usually play a center forward instead of a striker, generally Mario Gotze plays that role.
Arsenal’s backline led by Per Mertesacker have the daunting task of defending the trio. Generally, Wegner will play a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 hoping to control the midfield. In this case, Wegner should use newly-acquired Kim Kallstrom and Mikel Arteta in defending roles to slow down Bayern’s powerhouse offense instead of playing the likes of Tomas Rosicky or Santi Cazorla to try and attack Bayern.
Bayern don’t have a day off with Arsenal who have midfield maestro Mesut Ozil. Ozil, purchased from Real Madrid from the summer, has the ability to change the game in a second. This year, Ozil is sixth in key passes and has the second most assists in the BPL. Guardiola should use Philipp Lahm, Bayern’s holding midfielder to contain Ozil, because a playmaker like Ozil, with too much time will make Bayern pay. Bacary Sagna and whoever Wegner decides to play at left back have to contain Ribery and Robben or simply put Arsenal will not win.
Wegner likes to have possession and dominate the midfield as does Guardiola. One must concede.
Prediction : 5-2 Bayern over both legs.
Bayern should dominate the wings and contain Ozil and shutdown Arsenal’s play-makers offense by playing possession based football, Guardiola’s specialty.
Arsenal will struggle to create offense without possession, the defense will be on its toes the entire game and Szczesny isn’t the strongest of shotstoppers compared to Manuel Neuer. It just seems all around the pitch Bayern have more talent and for that reason it seems inevitable to see them running wild on Arsenal.
Another fact, Bayern haven’t lost a game at home yet. That too. Arsenal will need to bring their A-game when they march into the Allianz on February 19.