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  • Bayern Munich v Arsenal, Champions League

Arsenal have work to do as Bayern have it all to lose

ESPN staff
March 13, 2013
Arsenal aim for Bayern fightback


This time last year Arsenal almost staged a tremendous fightback against AC Milan but fell short of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League. This year, they find themselves in a similar position.

Against Milan, Arsenal had lost the first leg 4-0 at the San Siro and were 3-0 up at half-time in the second leg, but could not find the all-important fourth goal to force extra-time.

The Gunners' Champions League campaign is seemingly coming to an end this season as they trail Bayern Munich 3-1 from the first leg at Emirates Stadium, and Arsene Wenger's men have it all to do on Wednesday if they are to overturn the tie and book their place in the last eight of Europe's elite club competition.

Arsenal's task is a difficult one but Wenger, ever the optimist, sees the glass as half full ahead of what could potentially be a momentous night for Arsenal.

"It is not mission impossible," Wenger said when addressing the media, who have been sharpening their knives throughout the season as the Frenchman continues to come under huge pressure. "It can be done, but first of all you need 100 per cent commitment, attitude and things to go your way. But usually football goes your way when you have the right attitude."

Wenger is set to give key players a rest for the Bayern game, a decision which could backfire if Arsenal go out of the competition without putting up a fight.

"There is a kind of [feeling of] 'let's really play with freedom'. Let's start strong. We have to create doubt in their mind and you only do that if you have a real go," Wenger said. "The chance you have is to [make] insecure the certainty Bayern have at the moment. That you can only do if you perform at your best."

Arsenal will be turning to Olivier Giroud to score against Bayern Munich © Getty Images
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Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud says an early goal against Bayern is critical to keeping his side's Champions League hopes alive, although he stressed the Gunners must tighten up at the back if they are to stand any chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

Giroud has scored once in Europe this season but with Lukas Podolski - who netted in the first leg against Bayern - out injured, the Frenchman must carry Arsenal's goalscoring burden at the Allianz Arena.

The former Montpellier man is convinced the tie is not over despite Bayern's 3-1 lead, but is banking on a quick goal and a less porous Arsenal defence - despite the absence of first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and right-back Bacary Sagna - in order to overturn the deficit.

"We need to score an early goal," Giroud told kicker. "In football you never know. We need to believe and stay focused. But we need to correct our bad defensive behaviour as well. I like to play against German teams because they are attacking all the time. There I get myself more possibilities to score."

Bayern proved to be too strong for Arsenal at The Emirates, and could have found more than three goals to put the contest to bed. The Germans are determined to go one better in the Champions League this year having come within minutes of triumphing last season on home soil, and are being spurred on by Chelsea's comeback led by Didier Drogba in the summer of 2012.

Form

Bayern have been unstoppable domestically and they have carried over their brilliant form to the European stage. Currently they are on a run of 16 straight wins in all competitions, and playing at home against the Gunners will fancy their chances of making it win No. 17.

Arsenal are coming off the back of losing the North London derby to Tottenham but have had a ten-day rest. Despite the lengthy break Wenger is set to chop and change his starting line-up, but do not be surprised if he plays most of his star players to give Bayern something to think about. The Gunners have lost three of their last four games and need to start finding some form if they are to secure Champions League football for next season.

Team News

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boateng will be missing for Bayern through suspension, while Franck Ribery and Holger Badstuber are out through injury.

Arsenal's slim chances took a dent when Jack Wilshere was ruled out with an inflamed ankle, but the biggest surprise from Wenger has been to replace goalkeeper Szczesny with Lukas Fabianski, with Wenger saying his No. 1 is going to be rested, possibly a polite way of saying he has been dropped.

One to watch

Toni Kroos netted the opening goal in the first leg for Bayern, and the 23-year-old was excellent on the night, breaking forward whenever he could and getting back to help his team out. Arsenal gave Kroos too much room and were punished as a result of it, and it will be up to Mikel Arteta to keep a close eye on him.

Prediction and bet

When Arsenal are flowing they can score anywhere at any time. Achieving success is possible, but against a dominant Bayern it is going to be tough for the Gunners to avoid crashing out of Europe.

Final score: 2-1 (5-2 on aggregate, Bayern to go through)

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