With a number of their senior stars out injured and the tie almost a foregone conclusion there is reason to believe that manager Arsene Wenger will field a number of his young players.
1) Rest senior stars
Wenger would be wise to rest his senior players for what is shaping up to be an almighty battle to qualify for next year’s Champions League places. The Gunners are currently languishing just outside the top four, 5 points off Chelsea in 4th in the Premier League.
Whilst it’s not wholey inconceivable that Arsenal could comeback in Munich, it’s highly unlikely against the Bundesliga leaders who have conceded just 10 goals domestically all season.
Resting the likes of Woijceich Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, and Olivier Giroud would undoubtedly boost their chances of making the top four in the league with just 10 games to go.
2) Leave out underachievers
Likewise, Arsenal have underperformed as a team this season both domestically and continentally and that is due to individuals under performing. Many of the players named above haven’t cut the grade and it would send a message to them that if they don’t meet minimum expectations, they could be left out of the team.
Creating healthy competition for places makes everyone up their game and that’s something Arsenal have desperately lacked in a number of key positions this term – quality replacements to compete for places in the first team.
3) Good experience for youngsters
Playing against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena would be a great experience and opportunity for young players coming through the ranks at Arsenal. If the Gunners are unlikely to win the game or the tie anyway, why not blood some youngsters who can learn valuable lessons up against some of the best talent in Europe.
The youngsters would have less pressure on them and they’d have everything to gain and nothing to lose which could make for a more interesting clash.
4) Young players unknown quantity
On that note, young players tend to play with no fear – they could actually play better than the seniors. They’ll be looking to impress the boss and earn a regular place in the team – they might just rise to the occasion.
They’ll play with desire that the seniors have lacked for the Gunners this season. They’re hungry and they’re ‘unknown quantities’ which makes them difficult to prepare for as the opposition. Young players are keen and bright and have a belief and ambitious nature to them. That could pay dividends on the night.
5) Finally, they can’t do any worse than the adults have!
As stated, Arsenal’s senior first team have lacked desire, hunger, conviction, determination, resolve and, put simply, they just haven’t worked hard enough for the fans, the badge or the boss.
The youngsters have plenty to learn but maybe the adults could learn a thing or two from the kids – like how much of a privilege it is to play in the Champions League for a club like Arsenal for a manager like Arsene Wenger.
They seem to have forgotten how lucky they are – I think it’s time they were reminded of their obligations to the fans.
Now not all of these may have traveled and won't all be available, but here’s my pick of the crop…
James Shea (GK) – Young keeper. Nowhere near the quality of Szczesny but could be brought into the squad on the bench.
Carl Jenkinson (Def) – Has been a revelation this season and earned himself a call-up to the England senior squad. He made his debut in November against Sweden and has done a decent job of playing understudy to Bacary Sagna for the Gunners. He’s an Arsenal supporter and will play with desire.
Ignasi Miquel (Def) – Very talented Spain U21s youngster. Deserves to be given a run in the team – he can score goals and gets in dangerous positions on set-pieces.
He can’t do any worse than Arsenal’s senior defenders and he needs to get some games under his belt to prove himself. He’s got the ability to become the next Gerard Pique but he needs regular action to develop to that level.
Conor Henderson (Mid) – Ireland U21s He’s gone under the radar mostly but scored a few goals from midfield and has caught the attention he deserves recently and has done enough to earn an opportunity. Versatile – can play wide or through the middle.
Nicholas Yennaris – (RB/DM) – England U19s, has developed impressively and made some standout performances for Arsenal’s youth team in recent weeks.
Francis Coquelin (Mid) – Has performed well in his last few outings in the first team. Accomplished passer of the ball, keen to get stuck in defensively and makes intelligent runs to get in good positions.
Aaron Ramsey (Mid) – Although he’s regarded as an established senior, he’s still only 22 with a lot to prove. Wilshere’s injury will probably benefit him in terms of regular starts in the first team but he needs to build form and confidence.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Mid) – Broke through sensationally last season but has struggled to match that form this season – injuries and niggles have impeded his development but when he has played he’s keen to impress and desperate to do his best. He can surprise Bayern – he’s a little box of tricks.
Serge Gnabry (Mid/ST) – Very talented but yet to really prove himself at senior level – German U17s regular, scored 3 goals for his country. Will get a chance in the first team sooner or later, such is his immense quality and potential.
Chuba Akpom (ST) – Similar to a younger Danny Welbeck – highly rated as one of England’s most promising young strikers – U19s international.
How should Arsenal approach the tie?
image: © jiazi