Arsenal have played the fewest long balls in the Champions League, despite Guardiola criticism

Pep Guardiola

Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola said his side will have to defend against long balls from the Gunners, but that hasn't been their approach so far.

Arsenal take on Bayern Munich in Germany on Wednesday evening, looking to replicate their crucial 2-0 win at the Emirates last time out.

That game saw the Gunners alter their approach dramatically to try and counteract Bayern’s attacking talents, with them putting in a fine defensive display and executing a counter attacking game plan to perfection to secure the win.

They are likely to do a similar thing when they travel to the Allianz Arena, but in his pre-match press conference this week, Bayern manager Pep Guardiola suggested that his side would actually have to deal with long ball football from the Gunners.

“Arsenal will try long balls to Giroud,” the Guardian reports him as saying.

“Cech will not play the ball to defenders; he will try long balls to Giroud. When you press Mertesacker and Koscielny, they don’t want to play. They play long balls to Giroud. We have to defend well and be ready for that.”

  SeasonTotal Long BallsTotal Long Balls GAMEAppearances
Roma 2015-2016 174 58 3
Barcelona 2015-2016 167 55.6 3
Bayer 04 2015-2016 161 53.6 3
Munich 2015-2016 153 51 3
Arsenal 2015-2016 135 45 3

Unfortunately for Guardiola, though, it appears that his suggestion Arsenal are a long ball team is unfounded.

In the Champions League so far, they have played the fewest long balls of all the sides in the competition, with just 135 to their name. That total is 18 less than Guardiola’s Bayern side.

On a per game basis, that means the Gunners have played six long balls fewer per game than the Germans.

An embarrassing slip for Guardiola then, who perhaps should have his side focusing on Arsenal’s real strengths rather than the long ball game that doesn’t exist.

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