Five battles Arsenal must win versus Bayern Munich

Thomas Muller, Germany National Football Team

The next couple of weeks may determine Arsenal's fate in the Champions League as they have the tough task of taking points from Bayern Munich.

Arsenal's UEFA Champions League participation beyond December hangs in the balance after suffering shock defeats in their opening two games this season.

If losing at Dinamo Zagreb wasn't bad enough, Arsène Wenger's side were then humiliated at home by Olympiacos, leaving them on 0 points heading into back-to-back matches versus Bayern Munich.

The German giants have breezed to six points in this group, much like they're already comfortably running away with the German Bundesliga and we're only in mid-October.

Pep Guardiola's side are among the three favourites to win the Champions League this season and Arsenal need a result in either of these two matches if they're to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages this season.

In order to do so, here are five battles the Gunners are going to need to win:

Douglas Costa vs Héctor Bellerín

The Brazilian forward has settled in at Bayern Munich like a duck to water. Douglas Costa leads the team domestically in assists and is creating more chances per game than any other Bayern Munich playmaker.

Héctor Bellerín is in for a long night at right-back assuming Costa starts down the left as he has done all season. Not only does he whip in a good ball from that side but he's great at taking full-backs on and creating goalscoring chances for himself.  Costa is creating 2 chances per game domestically and 3.5 in the Champions League.

Douglas Costa has a goal each in both the Champions League and Bundesliga so far this season and I expect those numbers to be much higher by the end of the campaign given the number of attempts he fires in on goal.

Robert Lewandowski vs Arsenal defence

Most pundits will have the in-form Polish striker down as Bayern Munich's biggest threat this evening but number two on our list isn't any criticism to Robert Lewandowski – we're well aware of his threat.

Arsène Wenger has Gabriel Paulista available again to recall in place of Per Mertesacker. The Brazilian is a quicker than the German and may be better suited to marking the lethal striker. Alongside either of them, Laurent Koscielny may simply be given those duties, although the movement of Thomas Müller coming in from the right may keep the French international busy enough as it is.

Robert Lewandowski has scored three goals in two Champions League matches and 12 goals in eight Bundesliga matches already this season, and recently tied David Healy's record for most goals in qualifying for a European Championship.

Thiago Alcântara vs Francis Coquelin

Arsenal fans may remember the days of Barcelona's Thiago Alcântara being linked to the Emirates, but the Spanish playmaker ended up joining Bayern Munich more than two years ago.

Those past two seasons have been blighted by injuries but we're now seeing the best of Thiago this season since he's been fit. And what an impact he is making in the middle of the park.  Thiago has set up three goals and created 10 chances in his first two Champions League matches this season.

Thiago has created numerous chances and record a few assists in both the Champions League and Bundesliga this season. He's an excellent passer who Arsenal cannot afford to give time on the ball. Whether Francis Coquelin deals with him remains to be seen as Wenger may ask a more attacking player, such as Mesut Özil or the striker, to sit on him.

Thomas Müller vs Nacho Monreal

Thomas Müller is a big part of Bayern Munich's attack and his nine goals already in the Bundesliga may have been overshadowed by Robert Lewandowski's 12, but his presence cannot be forgotten for one moment.

The clever forward will line up on the right-hand side of a front three but he loves to drift in field. Time and time again Müller will find space in and around the penalty area so it's vitally important that Nacho Monreal does not left him go.

Monreal may be having a good season but could be in for a torrid time if he drops in concentration in this game. He'll certainly need help from either Laurent Koscielny or a holding midfielder when Müller drifts inside, but he's likely to be Monreal's responsibility on the whole.

Alexis Sánchez vs Philipp Lahm

Arsenal coud do with scoring some goals themselves if they're to get something from this game. One matchup that may work in their favour is down the left wing.

We've heard all about Philipp Lahm being one of the best right-backs in the world and he'll provide an attacking threat himself as he links up so well with Thomas Müller down the right wing.

Defensively, Arsenal should be looking to exploit the space Lahm leaves down the right and need to find Alexis Sánchez in those moments. I expect the Chilean to have some running space in dangerous positions against Philipp Lahm, but will he have enough support to take full advantage of it?

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