When Arsenal travel to Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena on February 15, they’ll do so without the weight of history on their shoulders according to the home side’s winger, Arjen Robben.
Ahead of the Champions League clash, the Dutch star, who knows Arsene Wenger’s tactics inside from his time at Chelsea, believes that previous results won’t matter when the two lock horns again. Although it looks as though Bayern vs. Arsenal is something of an annual affair given that they’ve played three times in the last four years. However, in the annals of time, the two clubs have only played each other ten times.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, only three of those ten matches have gone their way. However, when Robben talks about previous results, we all know he’s not citing the bare stats (Bayern with 5 wins and 2 draws), we all know he’s talking about 2013, 2014 and 2015. If we look beyond the 2015 5-1 drubbing (we know, that’s hard to do), Bayern has knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League twice in recent memory.
Now, fans will instantly recall these results, but the big question is will the players? Well, Robben doesn’t believe it will register with his teammates. Talking to ESPN, Robben admitted that Bayern have “happy memories” against Arsenal but they will need to be 100% focused if they’re going to come out on top.
“They are a very strong team. Even stronger than last year. They’re doing very well in the Premier League. We’ve played them a few times over the last few years and always won — we always got through to the next round — but maybe this one will be the toughest one so far,” Robben told ESPN.
Now, when Robben gave this interview back in December, his assessment that Arsenal was doing “very well” in the Premier League was a fair one. Today, however, things aren’t so good. Although fourth in the table after 24 games, Wenger’s men look unlikely to claim the title and may even miss out on a top three finish. A recent 3-1 loss to Chelsea summed up just how far Arsenal are off the pace and, unsurprisingly, renewed the “Wenger out” calls from some fans.
In contrast, Bayern is four points clear of RB Leipzig at the top of the Bundesliga with just one loss to their name this season. Add to that the customary winter break in Germany and it not only seems as though Carlo Ancelotti’s side will start with fresh legs but a ton of confidence. In fact, if the players took a moment to look at the latest betting odds they might find a few more reasons to smile.
Sun Bets currently has the home side as the runaway favourites at 1/2, while William Hill appears to have taken the most pity on Arsenal at 9/2 (Coral is offering 11/2 on an Arsenal win). Now, does this all mean Arsenal will roll over and give Bayern an insurmountable lead ahead of the second leg?
Almost certainly not, but the recent performance against Chelsea won’t inspire many. Lazy defending from Theo Walcott contributed to Chelsea’s first goal and saw him subbed in the second half. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mesut Ozil both underperformed, while Alexis Sanchez was isolated throughout. One ray of light in the defeat to Chelsea was Laurent Koscielny who continued to battle even when things were going wrong.
Based on those performances, Arsenal will either have to play out of their skins on February 15 to get some sort of result or simply accept they are going to struggle. Looking through the best options, 16/1 from Sun Bets on a 0-0 could have an outside chance of giving you some value. Arsenal’s players will know their best chance of avoiding elimination and progressing in the competition is to steal a draw in Germany and knick a win at the Emirates. Assuming Koscielny can inspire some sort of skill and desire in the likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Arsenal may have a chance of shutting Bayern down.
However, that certainly won’t be easy. With the likes of Robert Lewandowski and the aforementioned Robben running riot in the Bundesliga (21 goals between them), it’s hard to see how Arsenal get this one done. Assuming history repeats itself, the smart money in this game will be on Bayern to score at least two. Over 2.5 goals is a fairly uninspiring 6/10 at Coral, so if you’re looking for some scorecast value, something like 2-0 Bayern (7/1 at Coral) or even 3-1 Bayern (10/1 at Coral) could be good options.
Unfortunately, if you’re an Arsenal fan, February 15 looks as though it’s going to be a long night. Maybe the Gunners can do their trick of upping their game when it counts and get a result. However, all the signs seem to be pointing towards a comfortable win for Bayern Munich on this occasion.
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