So the big one is here, Arsenal take on Bayern Munich, Europe’s best team. The team that beat us last year. The team everyone wants to watch.
After seeing City taken out of the competition last night by a Barcelona who were a long way off their best; there was a sharp reminder that at the highest level, if you’re even 2% off you’re game, you will be punished and it’ll be harsh. Manchester City made the fatal mistake of playing the woeful Demichelis and they paid the ultimate price when he was sent off for a lazy challenge on Lio Messi.
Arsenal need to be sharp and focused if they’re to get anything out of tonight. Bayern have pace and power all over the pitch. They boast width and sharp shooters ready to kill you at any moment. Arsene Wenger talks about our ‘mental stength’ being better than last year. I’m really not sure he can believe that a taem that only a week a half ago suffered a 5-1 defeat boasts more mental strength, but what else can he say?
It’s going to be a tough night. We need to rely on a solid performance from the keeper and we need and an even better game from the back 4, but most importantly, there needs to be some accountability in front of them. Bayern will pick us off in whatever way they deem fit. If a weakness is spotted 25minutes in, Pep Guardiola will change and adapt to whatever that is. It really is going to be a fascinating game… because the whole world thinks we’re setting up to fail.
I’m hoping Chamberlains starts the game. We need his legs and confidence after a very good performance against Liverpool this weekend. Jack and Flamini need to have an incredibly disciplined if they start the game… and players need to make runs for Ozil… and Ozil needs to show he has the guts at the highest level. He has a tendency to go missing, he needs to rectify that this evening.
As I said yesterday, I’m not holding out much hope. Playing the best in Europe is tough, playing the best team in Europe fatigued, with a day less the prepare , without your two most effective players really is a tough ask. All I’m looking for is some fight from the boys. Don’t collapse, go out there, play a sensible disciplined game and make it happen on the big stage. A draw would be fantastic… even a 1-0 loss we could deal with. We just can’t lose heavily, because that has the potential to derail us domestically.
I’m hoping there’s a game plan that is more sensible than trying to smash them at their own game. We’re more than capable of soaking up pressure, but we don’t have the outlet for quick counter attacking. So whatever our game plan is, I hope it’s smarter than me, because I don’t have too many revolutionary ideas here! I mean, call me crazy, but I’d almost be tempted to give us some width and pace by introducing Kieran Gibbs on left and allowing Chambo to play right. Bayern would at least have to double take when pressing us and it would throw them. I know it sounds a bit weird, but so was Peps false 10 against Dortmund. At the moment, our starting 11 is predictable… we need legs and Gibbs is more than capable at delivering a good cross / pass / shot.
Right, get into the stadium early tonight, Red Action have pieces of paper on the chairs we can lift up and wave when Bayern come in. I’m always a little nervous of activations like this… remember those bastard flags for the United game?
Anyway, have fun tonight, see you on the other side!