Arsenal have a two goal deficit to overcome when they face Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie on Tuesday (19:45 GMT, live on ITV).
Bayern were comfortable victors in the first leg at the Emirates, triumphing by two goals to nil against an Arsenal side who were forced to play for over 50 minutes with a man less following the dismissal of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
In the aftermath of that match, Bayern have recorded three consecutive victories by margins of four or more goals, the most recent being a 6-1 win away to Wolfsburg on Saturday. They have a commanding lead in the Bundesliga with 68 points from 22 wins, two draws and no defeats.
The Champions League holders cruised into the knockout stages, topping Group D with five wins and one draw. They have been involved in three of the last four Champions League finals and their performances this season, domestically and in Europe, render them worthy of their status as Champions League bookies’ favourites to win this year’s competition.
Josep Guardiola has subtly shifted the focus of Bayern’s play to controlled possession since taking over from the retired Jupp Heynckes last summer. They may be a little less viscerally thrilling than Heycnkes’ more counter-attack based side, but Guardiola’s team are still good to watch and still attack with some of the same pace and urgency.
Toni Kross was Bayern’s star man in the first leg, opening the scoring with a superb long range strike and controlling the tempo of match with the quality of his short and long distance passing. With three from Arjen Robben, Frank Ribery, Mario Goetze, Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Muller ahead of him, Bayern are a potent attacking force.
Ribery returned to the Bayern side in the weekend win over Wolfsburg after more than a month on the sidelines with a buttocks injury, meaning that Guardiola has a full squad to pick from for this match.
Arsenal come into the second leg on the back of an impressive 4-1 FA Cup quarter final win over Everton over Saturday. They have, however, won just two of their last six in the Premier League, a run of results that has seen them slip from first in the table to third with 59 points from 18 wins, five draws and five defeats.
The Gunners narrowly progressed to the Champions League knockout stages courtesy of the second-best head-to-head record of the trio of clubs who finished joint top of Group F. They have been eliminated at the round of 16 stage in each of their last three Champions League campaigns and will have to be at very best on Tuesday if they hope to end that run.
The major positive from the win over Everton was the return to form of Mezut Ozil (pictured), who ended a long unproductive period with a goal and an assist. He missed a penalty in the first leg against Bayern and was jeered by sections of the German crowd when he was substituted during the country’s friendly win over Chile last week, so will be desperate to perform well now.
Ozil’s dip in form has coincided with Arsenal’s own New Year downturn, during which they have both taken less and conceded more high quality shots than earlier in the season. One match provides insufficient evidence for either being halted, especially with a number of difficult fixtures to come, but Arsene Wenger will have taken some optimism from the victory.
Wenger will definitely be without Abou Diaby (knee), Jack Wilshere (foot) and Theo Walcott (knee) for this tie, while the match looks likely to come a few days too soon for Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and Kim Kallstrom (back). Laurent Koscielny (hamstring) will face a late fitness test. Lukasz Fabianski is set to deputise for the suspended Szczesny.
Bayern Munich v Arsenal Betting Tips
These two sides met in last’s year round of 16, with Bayern progressing on away goals following a 3-1 victory at the Emirates and a 2-0 defeat in Munich. They were also victorious when the teams met in the round of 16 of 2005.
Bayern are one of the best sides at keeping possession in Europe and will try to take control of the match and prevent Arsenal from gaining the possession and/or territory required to find a way back into the tie. They can play safe and choose opportune moments to attack.
Arsenal will, of course, take some hope from their win in last season’s second leg between the sides, but in truth this year’s Bayern side look better equipped to safeguard a first leg advantage. Arsenal really struggled to get the ball from them at the Emirates, even before going down to 10 men, and Bayern look in good shape to progress with a victory.
- Back Bayern Munich to win @ best odds of 1/3 with Paddy Power. If you are averse to betting heavy odds-on then an alternative option is the half-time/full-time market where the home team can be backed at 8/11 with Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, SkyBet. Bayern are usually quick starters.
- Muller came off the bench to score the second goal at the Emirates and is always a potent goal threat. He has an impressive goals per 90 minutes rate across domestic and European competition and could benefit from space in behind if Arsenal push forward. Back Thomas Muller to score at anytime @ best odds of evens at Ladbrokes.