Arsenal v Bayern Munich Preview

UEFA Champions League | Wednesday February 19 | Emirates Stadium | 21:45




Arsenal host Bayern Munich in a mouth-watering clash at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

With two clubs of tradition and extreme European prominence down the years, this season's encounter promises to be even more intense than the last, with the Gunners this time a genuine threat to the reigning European champions.

To Win (90mins)
Arsenal 38/10 
Draw 26/10 
Bayern 7/10

ARSENAL

Arsenal have lost in the round of 16 in their last three Champions League campaigns and manager Arsene Wenger will need a good result against the holders on Wednesday if he wants to prove Jose Mourinho wrong.

Referring to Arsenal's trophy drought since 2005, the Chelsea coach taunted Wenger by describing him as a ''specialist in failure'' this week.

Wenger hit back with a 2-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday as his team advanced to the FA Cup sixth round.

Earlier in this season's competition, the Gunners made light work of Fenerbahce and Marseille and recorded impressive wins against Borussia Dortmund and Napoli.

However, a 2-0 away loss to Napoli in December saw Arsenal finish second in their group, only to be drawn against Bayern Munich.

Per Mertesacker made a sceptical start to his time in north London, but he has established himself as the foundation on which the Gunners' season has been built.

Never blessed with pace, the German international is a fine reader of the game and provides a calming influence on his back line.

Rarely beaten in the air, he will also bring an invaluable knowledge of Bayern and their players.

Another German international, Mesut Ozil will relish an opportunity to get one over some of his national teammates and is bound to be a microscopically analysed aspect of this showdown.

Although it depends largely upon Guardiola's wealth of midfield options, Javi Martinez looks a likely choice to anchor against the former Werder Bremen star.

Arsenal's best chance remains to counter-attack quickly and directly, exploiting the high back-line of Bayern.

BAYERN MUNICH

Powerful Bayern Munich warmed up for Wednesday’s first-leg clash at Arsenal by trouncing Freiburg 4-0 to stretch their lead to 16 points.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, whose side extended its record unbeaten league run to 46 matches, rested several stars ahead of the London clash, but still started with 10 internationals.

Bayern have benefited from the fresh approach of Pep Guardiola, who has turned them into a passing machine with Philipp Lahm the surprise pivot in midfield.

This is a side built firmly in Guardiola’s image and one that will expect to control possession against any opposition.

At Bayern’s disposal are so many players who can help dominate the ball.

Guardiola, unlike Wenger, has a habit of winning trophies.

The German treble winners have quality all over the pitch and will have Arjen Robben back from his knee injury for this tie.

However, Bayern will have to do without last season’s Player of the Year Franck Ribery, who will miss out due to injury.

Although Guardiola has a wealth of talent to choose from, Ribery's absence cannot be underestimated—on the three-man shortlist for the 2013 Ballon d'Or, the Frenchman provides a large focal point for Bayern's attacking play.

He also currently leads the assist charts in the Bundesliga and has put away seven goals.

Bayern are hungry to become the first team in history to win back-to-back Champions League finals and will no doubt be confident of victory when they travel to the Emirates.

Betting Prediction: BAYERN MUNICH 7/10
Both teams share an array of attacking talent and two managers who advocate aesthetically pleasing football and like their teams to dominate possession. Subsequently, the battle for control could prove pivotal. Arsenal faced a Ribery-less Bayern side last term and they won 2-0 away from home but don't expect this to be the case under Guardiola. Bayern are tipped to get the away win.

Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

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