Arsenal will face the Bundesliga leaders without Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski who were both injured in their North London derby defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.
Manager Arsene Wenger has insisted that progressing past Bayern to the quarterfinals of the Champions League is not ‘impossible’ and whilst there will be those who (understandably) have already written the Gunners off, there is no way I can be convinced that Arsenal are not capable of a comeback.
As the boss said in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday, it certainly is a ‘difficult task’ and although it’s something of an improbability that this Arsenal team can score three goals (or more) against a Bayern Munich side that conceded just 10 goals in the Bundesliga all season and, simultaneously, not concede any goals themselves, it is not an impossibility – there are no certain outcomes in football.
I did notice when watching Manchester United knocked out of the competition by Real Madrid that ITV’s Adrian Chiles commented that there would be no English teams in the competition after United’s exit.
Whilst that may have been a slip of the tongue, it’s comments like that which do Arsenal an injustice. Firstly, it’s true they haven’t performed well this season – not domestically and not continentally either.
They have, however, despite losing Robin van Persie and his goals in the summer, they have scored 53 goals in the Premier League alone, they are capable of putting the ball in the back of the net.
At the other end there are problems, however. We know that Arsene concede far too many goals and, synonymously, unnecessary goals – sloppy goals, preventable goals. This will be that which defines them in Munich. They can score all they like but if they can’t defend equally as well, then they really will be out of the tie.
However unlikely, if Arsenal score first (of which there is a 50/50 chance) they will be back in the tie. 3-2 and it’s game on. Yes, they would need to follow it with two more away goals and keep a clean sheet to go with it but it’s not inconceivable that they could do it. It’s 90 minutes and anything can happen.
Bayern (or Arsenal) could have a player sent off, we saw full well how much damage a dodgy referee can do with Manchester United’s tie. Arsenal nearly game back from 4-0 down just last season against AC Milan.
Milan were poor and it was at the Emirates but, nonetheless, the second leg’s scoreline was 3-0. That’s the scoreline they need in Munich. Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski weren’t involved in that game either, as it happens.
I understand why, especially after their poor and inconsistent form this season, Arsenal have been written off in this tie. But I was in attendance at the Emirates for the first leg and Bayern Munich weren’t that good.
Of course they were better Arsenal. But they weren’t unbeatable. At 2-1, Arsenal had a great opportunity to level the tie but, like Arsenal do these days, they shot themselves in the foot by missing their chance and conceding a goal the other end.
It’s a long long long loooooong shot but Wenger’s right: it’s not Mission Impossible.
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