Arsenal will need a miracle if they are to overturn a four-goal, first-leg Champions League disadvantage when they welcome Bayern Munich to the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night (7.45pm, BT Sport 1).
Arsene Wenger’s men were thrashed 5-1 in the first meeting between these two teams at the Allianz Arena last month, a result which will almost certainly see them exit the Champions League at the round of 16 stage yet again.
There was a wearying familiarity to the Gunners’ display in Germany, with the visitors from the Premier League completely torn apart in another big game away from home – as they also were domestically on Saturday, when Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners at Anfield.
Wenger’s future at the Emirates is uncertain. The Frenchman may still extend his stay by another two years, but he has probably never come closer to leaving the club in his two decades at the helm so far. Arsenal’s performance against Bayern, as well as the outcome of their bids to win the FA Cup and secure a top-four spot, could go a long way to determining whether the north Londoners’ most successful manager of all time walks away when his current contract comes to an end in June.
Bayern headed into the first leg of this tie under a bit of pressure themselves, with many onlookers claiming that they had taken a step or two backwards under Carlo Ancelotti (pictured) in comparison to the Pep Guardiola years. Nevertheless, their dominance against Arsenal underlined their credentials as they attempt to add another Champions League title to their trophy cabinet.
The Bavarians have a strong lead at the summit of the standings in the Bundesliga and will probably therefore divert their attention to Europe’s foremost continental club competition in the last two and a half months of the 2016/17 campaign. After all, the decision to hire Ancelotti in the first place was evidence of their desire to triumph in the Champions League once more, with the Italian having the joint-best record of any manager in the history of the tournament after his three triumphs with Milan and Real Madrid. Bayern are now 11/4 favourites with the bookies in the Champions League outright winner betting market. They certainly have the talent and quality to go all the way this term, and they will once again be looking to lay down a marker in London on Tuesday night.
Arsenal will be without midfield duo Santi Cazorla (leg) and Mohamed Elneny (ankle) for this clash, but Wenger has no fresh injury concerns after his side’s defeat by Liverpool. Alexis Sanchez will almost certainly return to the fold after puzzlingly being dropped at Anfield, with Olivier Giroud the man most likely to make way. Mesut Ozil missed that trip to the northwest with illness but should also be involved here.
Bayern will be missing Jerome Boateng (shoulder) and Douglas Costa, but Renato Sanches should shake off illness in time to be included in the matchday squad. Winger Arjen Robben caused havoc in the first leg and will look to do the same in the return fixture, while Spain international Thiago Alcantara will almost certainly cause Arsenal problems in the centre of the park.
Arsenal have a habit of losing the first leg of their Champions League ties, before salvaging some pride with an ultimately futile win in the second. The same could happen on this occasion, particularly as Bayern’s healthy four-goal lead means the German outfit are unlikely to play with the same energy and intensity that characterised their showing at the Allianz Arena last time out. With that in mind, then, it could be worth backing a home victory at the Emirates this week, with Sanchez a sensible choice to find the back of the net at some point in the game. Here are this preview’s betting tips: