While Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal fans were left cursing our luck after the draw for the knockout phase of the Champions League, we were not all that surprised to get the German champions Bayern Munich despite winning our group because that is the way that things tend to go for the Gunners.
And as if our task of getting into the quarter-finals for the first time since 2010 was not hard enough, there is the annual problem of the winter break, or the lack of it for clubs from the English Premier League. No doubt the debate will come again about why the EPL clubs struggle in Europe despite having the financial resources that other leagues can only dream of and I have to feel that the schedules play a big part.
With that money comes the need to let the TV companies decide the timing of games and this often means that we are given a disadvantage while the clubs from La Liga are given extra time to prepare or recover for the European games. As if that was not bad enough, our last 16 opponents from Germany will have had a month off and just four games to play before they face Arsenal.
The Daily Mail reports their central defender Mats Hummels suggesting that this long break while Arsenal are faced with a heavily congested schedule is no advantage to Bayern Munich, but if you believe that then you would believe that the word gullible is not in the dictionary.
Hummels said, ‘I think that it won’t affect both teams at this early stage.
‘We and Arsenal will have our rhythm and until then we have three compulsory games.
‘So I think that it won’t have an impact that they didn’t have a winter break.’
Easy for him to say with Bayern not having played since December 21st and not back in action for another 10 days, allowing them to put their feet up and even go on a nice relaxing sunshine training break while Arsenal have been struggling to keep going with injury problems and illness hitting us hard.
We cannot even take heart from the fact that Bayern only came second in the group because that was due to a slow start and they have put that right in style with six straight wins and only one goal conceded before their long winter break.
There is no question that the winter break gives Bayern an advantage, but can Arsenal upset the odds when we meet next month?