Huge task for Gunners

  • By: Tom McDermott
  • Last Updated: February 19 2014, 19:52 GMT

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident that his side's league form will provide them with the belief they need to beat reigning European champions Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium this evening.

Arsenal went out to Bayern on away goals last season
Arsenal went out to Bayern on away goals last season

It's the second successive year that the teams have met at the last 16 stage of the competition and if the last encounter is anything to go by then we could be in for another unpredictable night.

Last campaign, the Bundesliga champions beat Arsenal in North London 3-1 only to lose the home leg 2-0 and sneak through on the away goals rule.

It was only a minor blip, though, as the Bavarians went on to beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in the final at Wembley (after thumping Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semi-final).

If we are using domestic form as a guide to how both teams might approach the tie then Arsenal supporters should probably look away now.

Pep Guardiola's side are unbeaten in the Bundesliga, winning 19 of their 21 games and sitting sixteen points clear of second place Bayer Leverkusen.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Franck Ribery will miss out due to injury but Bastian Schweinsteiger is likely to start and will fancy his chances of controlling the game from midfield.

Arsenal's inability to defend as a team cost them dearly in the home leg in 2013 and Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere will be expected to defend and defend well if they are to have any chance.

Aaron Ramsey's untimely absence due to injury hasn't helped Wenger's cause but there is a feeling that the recent 2-1 FA Cup victory against Liverpool might provide the home side with the spark they need.

However, it is hard to see past a Bayern Munich victory and Guardiola's squad have the capacity to out-think, out-manoeuvre and out-muscle most of their opponents.

A glimpse at both benches this evening is likely to underline the strength in depth Bayern have and if it's not working to start off with, expect the former Barcelona manager to change things pretty sharpish.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the key man against Liverpool, scoring one and setting up Lukas Podolski for the other, but it is unclear as to whether Wenger will adopt a more cautious approach especially after recent European disappointments.

Tactically, Munich will be expected to press Arsenal high up the pitch and try to overpower them in the hope that they can win the game and take a healthy lead back to Germany.

And, despite being unbeaten at the Emirates in the last 13 games it appears that Arsenal are running out of steam and with the pressure building on Olivier Giroud to consistently find the back of the net at the business end of the season an away victory looks most likely.

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