Feb 18th, 2014 by 'holic
“We have big home strengths recently because we don’t give goals away and that will certainly be vitally important in this tie.”
Arsene makes the case for the defence, who will certainly have a fair bit more to do than in most home games. Bayern know one way to play, and that involves a lot of attacking football.
A year ago we most certainly did give goals away. Kroos and Muller had us two down in just over twenty minutes and it is fair to say Bayern looked as good in that first-half as anybody who came to the Grove last season. Inspired by Jack Wilshere we attempted to rally and Lukas Podolski reduced the arrears against his former club, but we were undone by a late Mandzukic fluke.
Bayern have been beaten just once in all competitions this season, by Manchester City in their final group stage match. In the Bundesliga they have won nineteen and drawn two. The Champions League holders are as stern a test as we could have got in the last sixteen, but we have a squad in better spirits than a year ago, when we were coming off the back of a defeat to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup.
The squad for this match shows just one change from the one that saw off the challenge of Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday. Tomas Rosicky comes back in place of the suspended Mikel Arteta. There will surely be recalls for Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, and Kieran Gibbs in the back five. Wilshere is the likeliest to drop in alongside Mathieu Flamini in the base of the midfield.
The questions Arsene has to answer is which combination of players to surround Mesut Ozil with. Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain contest the right sided berth and although I would prefer to see the speed of the Ox I suspect Le Boss will plump for greater experience. Similarly on the left there is a case to be made for Podolski, arguably the most consistent finisher at the club, but how can we leave out Santi Cazorla? I don’t believe we will.
Then the question of who starts up top. It’s a no-brainer if Olivier Giroud can put his personal travails to one side. Out of touch in front of goal he may be, but there is no better target man in England right now and his ability to bring others into the game is invaluable. If there is any doubt about his concentration levels then Poldi could be preferred to the raw but enthusiastic Yaya Sanogo in a game of this magnitude.
The ‘holic pound, fresh from another success at the weekend, cannot resist the 4/1 being offered against Arsenal. The bookies may not get it wrong often, and those odds reflect the general belief that the champions will prove too strong for us again, but 4/1, at home? That is irresistible.
To land the punt we will have to defend from front to back, deny them the space in which to play, and get our fluid, fast-passing game going as much as possible. A win would require a tremendous performance, but one we have in our locker. After our victory in the Allianz Arena last season in the second-leg I have to believe that. Having gone out on away goals then it would be perfect revenge to turn the tables.
Enjoy, all who are fortunate enough to be going. We worry so much about qualifying for the Champions League precisely to be involved in matches like this. Let’s enjoy it now it is here.
Come on you riproaring!