Since a home draw against Spu*s, Arsenal has been desperately searching for consistency, which may not bode well ahead of their match against Bayern Munich. Their eye catching performances with free flowing football seem like ancient history. Saturday’s lackluster performance against Hull City clearly proves that this Arsenal squad is very short of confidence.
Now, they face a daunting task at the Allianz Arena. Does anyone else think the Champions League draw is fixed? Bayern Munich again?! WTF!
Starting from the back, it all just seems very different.
Petr Cech was supposed to be the anchor, yet, I just don’t get the sense that he offers the defensive unit a level of confidence one would expect. With that said, we are going to see Ospina back in between the sticks on Wednesday, and, I can’t say I’m upset.
When called upon, the Colombian has stepped up, and with Cech not looking all that dominant at times, Ospina could make a good case for himself.
Come on Ospina, don’t let us down!
Koscielny and Mustafi have built a formidable partnership, but, they are not exempt from criticism. While the positives outweigh the negatives, they’ve made some alarming mistakes throughout the season. Obviously, they aren’t perfect, but when the pressure is on, they seem to be lacking organization.
Bayern Munich are the team that will take advantage of any mistakes, so, that means Kostafi need to limit their donations to the Bavarians. We know they don’t need hand outs, so it would be nice to see a solid defensive performance. Is that too much to ask for?!
Alongside them, Bellerin is an automatic on the team sheet if healthy, but on the left, I see a lot of uncertainty from supporters.
With a lot of hype and expectation surrounding him, Kieran Gibbs hasn’t been able to find enough consistency to break through. Having the tools to build a house but having no damn clue how to build it doesn’t help. Gibbs is capable of putting in a great performance on any given day, just as he’s also capable of doing some stupid sh*t. He’ll get up and down the line, only to dissapoint with his crossing ability. Also, did I mention that defensively, he scares the hell out of me?
Monreal has been the regular throughout the last two seasons, and in my opinion, he’s earned it. With that said, he looks to have some tired legs. Going forward he may not be as creative as Gibbs, but defensively, I prefer the Spaniard.
Ancelotti’s men will be on the front foot most of the match, therefore, I think Monreal is the best bet for the first leg. Hopefully the fact that he was rested at the weekend will allow him to have some extra energy in the tank for this match.
Isn’t Steve Bould the assistant manager?! Sort it out dammit!
Protecting the defensive unit will be critical if Arsenal is going to have any chance of heading back to London in high spirits. They absolutely can’t afford to get stretched in the center of the park, allowing the Bayern players to expose Kostafi. We’ve seen that happen far too often, and I’m not interested in having to sit through 90 minutes of that.
Grant Xhaka will be back, and Arsene Wenger is likely going to start him alongside Coquelin.
Ahead of them is where we could see a few different options. We have the scenario we’d like to see, and then there’s the scenario we are likely going to see.
If it was my choice, I’d play Ox in front of Xhaka and Coq.
Does anyone remember the last time he played down the middle at the Allianz Arena? I certainly do, and he had a fantastic match. Having him there will give the squad more of an opportunity to break on the counter-attack with speed. Meanwhile defensively down the middle, he’ll put in more of a shift than Ozil.
The front three should consist of Alexis, Ozil and Welbeck.
That will offer pace and creativity in the final third. But, whatever side Ozil is on will require Ox to help overload defensively. We all know the German isn’t the most defensive minded player, and he’d likely be deployed on the left, so Monreal would need help, and lots of it.
I’m actually hopeful that Mesut going home to Germany will help his confidence. This could be the match where he silences those critics who will be waiting to post more photos of a floating Ozil kit. Shut them up Ozil!
Now, the most realistic scenario is for Ozil to start in front of Xhaka and Coquelin. Out wide, Theo and Welbeck get the start, with Alexis leading the line. Offensively, I don’t mind that, but, defensively, Ozil does not put in a shift. Away to Bayern they need to force the hosts out wide or else it could be a long 90 minutes.
Actually, Wenger seems to be obsessed with Iwobi as of late. The Nigerian could start instead of Walcott, which also scares the sh*t out of me.
Iwobi is another lazy player off the ball. Bad enough Ozil is a liability behind the ball, they can’t afford to have him and Iwobi out there chasing shadows against a Bayern side that hasn’t lost since November.
Going into the match, Arsenal clearly aren’t in stunning form. So, what the hell should we expect?
Truth be told, this Bayern side isn’t as dominant as they once were. Having said that, they are still very dangerous, especially at home. Arsenal has travelled to Munich more than they would have liked over the last years, so they’ll be well aware of what to expect.
Not trying to over complicate things is key here.
This time around, Arsenal plays the second leg at home, which in theory, gives them the advantage.
In order for it to actually be an advantage, the Gunners will need to bring home a result that gives them hope. While a victory would be outstanding, a draw with goals would also be happily accepted.
Being the only Arsenal supporter among all my friends, they are anxiously waiting for Arsene Wenger’s lads to bottle this match. And let’s face it, that’s very possible, and I hate to admit that.
Going into the match my heart says they will rise to the occasion and surprise their critics and supporters. But then my head tells me not to get my hopes up.
So which one is it going to be Arsenal?!