Arsenal haven’t exactly had much luck in the Champions League in recent years so it came as little surprise to see the Gunners drawn with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in the last-16 stage in December’s draw. Arsene Wenger’s men pipped Paris Saint-Germain to top spot in the group stage but were ‘rewarded’ with a tricky double header against Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Despite finishing at the top of their Champions League group for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign, the Gunners were struck by bad luck in the last-16 draw. Bayern, who finished second behind Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in their group, are one of the strongest clubs in European football and Arsenal will need to be at their brilliant best to stand any chance of earning a shock victory over the Bundesliga champions.
Incredibly, this will be the fourth time that both sides have faced each other in the last five years and Arsenal’s record during that timeframe is uninspiring to say the least. Wenger’s side have won just two of their six clashes with Bayern since the beginning of 2013 and they have been knocked out by the German side on both occasions. The Bundesliga side romped to victory in their most recent encounter, netting five goals in their group stage demolition in October 2015.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) December 12, 2016
However, Arsenal should take plenty of confidence from their impressive effort in the 2012-13 campaign. After losing the home leg by three goals to one, Wenger’s team were on the brink of elimination. However, the Gunners went to the Allianz Arena and produced a phenomenal performance to secure a 2-0 victory. Had Arsenal managed to keep Bayern at bay in the opening leg, they would have reached the next round of the competition.
Bayern are one of Europe’s elite sides but Arsenal are playing at a very high level right now and the Gunners could cause problems for Ancelotti’s men. The German champions are involved in a genuine battle with RB Leipzig for the Bundesliga crown and that could play into Arsenal’s hands if Bayern are pushed ahead of their trip to the Emirates Stadium. Whilst Wenger must respect Munich and their talent, he cannot afford to sit back and play for a draw at home – Arsenal need to go for the jugular.
As of December 23rd, Arsenal are involved in a title race of their own and many fans will be backing Wenger to focus on the domestic game rather than risk no silverware at all. The Gunners, priced at 6/1 to win the title with Sportsbet.io, are nine points behind Chelsea but the Blues could suffer in the second half of the campaign. Arsenal do have the strength in depth to juggle their Premier League and European commitments but when push comes to shove, the title may be a more realistic objective. But remember when Arsenal are on the top of their game we know they are unbeatable. Remember this one….
Gunners exceeded expectations by topping the group and nobody will bat an eyelid if they are eliminated by Bayern Munich. Carlo Ancelotti’s men aren’t the dominant force that they were under Pep Guardiola but they are still one of the best teams on the planet and Arsenal will need everything to go their way in order to stand any chance of victory. But football is a funny old game and a surprise success could follow if Wenger plays his cards right..