Bayern Munich v Arsenal
We all knew it was coming, Arsenal and Bayern Munch always find a way to play each other in the Champions League and of course, this year is no different.
The two sides have met six times since February 2013 with Bayern winning three of those fixtures, one draw and two Arsenal victories.
Arsenal were in fact the only team throughout the whole of the 2012/13 season to beat Bayern at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League as well as being the only team to score more than one goal and keep a clean sheet!
But enough with the statistics and history lessons, because as we all know, stats mean nothing when it comes to Arsenal.
Here will be the key factors that will decide the outcome of this heavyweight clash:
Kostafi v Lewandowski
Arsenal don’t have the best of defensive records in any competition thus far in the season, however there have been some glimpses of hope for Arsenal fans in the form of “Kostafi”.
The pair have formed an immense partnership together and Mustafi was unbeaten as an Arsenal player until recently.
The key point here is, however, that these two have as good a chance as any at keeping out Robert Lewandowski.
Kostafi were absolutely incredible at keeping Diego Costa quiet when the Gunners beat Chelsea 3-0 at the start of the campaign and the two are more than capable of keeping out a lethal striker.
Arsenal have conceded a ridiculous amount of sloppy goals this season, ranging from un-marked tap ins to stupidly-given away penalties.
Arsenal CAN keep Lewandowski quiet, it’s a question of whether or not they actually will…
The pressure factor
It is well documented that Arsenal “can only perform when the pressure is off” and perhaps one could say that the pressure is reduced this season.
Nobody is expecting Arsenal to win tomorrow, in fact, everybody is predicting a Bayern rout!
Arsenal have the home advantage for the second leg of this fixture which means that unlike previous years, they will not be playing at the Allianz Arena with almost nothing to play for.
That said, the pressure could work in Bayern’s favour too, as realistically, you never know which type of Arsenal is going to turn up.
Bayern Munich will be without Jerome Boateng and Franck Ribery for the visit of Arsenal.
(Boateng was also injured when Arsenal won 2-0 at the Allianz in 2013.)
Arsenal, on the other hand, have very little to worry about in terms of injuries, with only Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey out on the sidelines (and some may say that having the Welsh midfielder out is a bonus).
It wouldn’t be impossible for Arsenal to exploit the gap left by Boateng, but Wenger has opted not to play Giroud or Welbeck in the past few games which would be a necessity if Arsenal wanted to win anything in the air and play the ball off the ground.
Douglas Costa could be the man to rip Arsenal to shreds and he gave Hector Bellerin a torrid time when they met last season at the Emirates Stadium.
David Ospina has started in each of Arsenal’s Champions League games this season and played superbly in each of them.
In the very first minute of Arsenal’s Champions League campaign, Ospina conceded a Cavani header away at PSG but since then, he has been phenomenal.
Ospina will be starting in goal for the Gunners in Munich and he could be the man to save the tie for Arsenal.
Petr Cech has not looked brilliant in recent weeks so David Ospina could be the hero to save Arsenal’s blushes.
Taking current form and fitness into account, it still looks unlikely that Arsenal will be able to come away with a result from Germany.
Follow the 101 Great Goals Instagram page to follow my trip to Munich but unfortunately I am predicting a 3-0 win for the hosts.