CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) looks at Wednesday’s bumper Champions League clash between Bayern Munich and Arsenal
Bayern Munich v Arsenal | Wednesday 19:45 | BT Sport 1
It’s a familiar riddle for Arsenal to solve as they attempt to progress from the Champions League Last 16 for the first time in seven years. The Gunners face Bayern Munich for the seventh time in this competition in less than four years.
From those duels it’s the German side who have been dominant as they’ve knocked Arsenal out of the 2013 and 2014 Last 16 rounds. In 2015/16 they met in the group stage with both sides winning their home fixture although Bayern’s 5-1 romp was more impressive than Arsenal’s 2-0 win at the Emirates.
Arsenal though, do emerge with credit when looking at the raw figures of those six matches. The Gunners won two of the encounters and drew a third match, although to be fair their 2013 win and 2014 draw in Germany came on the back of humbling home defeats that put the tie to bed.
New year, new renewal
The 2017 renewal may just be Arsene Wenger’s last crack at Champions League glory and there’s certainly an air of dissatisfaction about the club as they’ve fallen short in the title race yet again.
Bayern have parallels with Tuesday night’s heroes PSG. After years of dominance in their division they’ve been threatened this year under a new management team.
After romping the Bundesliga under Pep Guardiola, this season has been less fluent under Carlo Ancelotti and it’s only now that his superstars are beginning to break away from Leipzig.
Again, similar to PSG, Bayern have clicked into gear in recent months and have picked up 10 wins from their last 11 matches in all competitions to stamp their established authority on their domestic scene.
One more similarity to PSG? Ok, how about their home record? PSG went into Tuesday night’s match with Barcelona protecting an 11 month unbeaten home run and Bayern have a similar show and tell.
The Bavarians are unbeaten in 25 at home since a surprise defeat to Mainz on March 2nd last year. Under Ancelotti it’s been 12 home wins out of 15 and they’ve conceded just one goal at the Allianz since late November.
Arsenal are always a hard puzzle to solve. I mean, they won in Munich earlier in the decade and picked up a draw there, but as mentioned above that was when the tie was beyond reach.
So what’s the angle here? Is it fair to say we’re still not fully briefed in regard to Ancelotti’s Bayern? There’s a suspicion they’ve dropped off from last season’s levels and perhaps there’s an opportunity for Arsenal to exploit that.
Arsenal’s trips to Munich have been fruitful in periods and I’m willing to believe they can make a dent here and score. Whether that’s enough to salvage something I’m not sure. Picks of 2-1 and 3-1 defeats for the North London side stand out for me in what should be an intriguing night.