Death, taxes and another Champions League tie against Bayern Munich. Yes it is happening again, and it starts tonight with the first leg at Allianz Arena. Provided Arsenal can play their best, there are many reasons why there is a much greater chance of being the German giants this time when compared to 2013 and 2014.
Bayern are definitely weaker than last time
It is true that while Bayern is top of the Bundesliga and are still a very strong team, they aren’t like the Bayern of recent years who were almost invincible. It would take a Real Madrid or Barcelona to topple them. Heck, in the year they won the Champions League, Bayern humiliated Barcelona 7-0 over two legs so not even Barcelona could stop them that year. This season they didn’t even top their group, struggling against the likes of Atletico Madrid and Rostov. In the Bundesliga itself, they haven’t been vintage Bayern performance-wise, winning games by the odd goal, a far cry to the regular blowouts in the past. The defence is very vulnerable and the likes of Robben and Lahm are definitely in their twilight years. Arsenal will not get a better time to play Bayern.
Arsenal have a better squad
If you look at the picture above, the team that won at the Allianz Arena, the current squad is clearly an upgrade. Despite the same mentality issues, Ospina is a much better goalkeeper than Fabianski, Bellerin is far superior to Jenkinson, Mustafi is an upgrade on his German counterpart Mertesacker, there was no Mesut Ozil back then, Alexis is preferable to Giroud and the Ox will give Bayern more problems than Ramsey (that is if the manager actually starts him). The big question is if the squad can achieve their potential, but on paper, they have more potential than the class of 2013.
The second leg is at home
This by no means is a guarantee of qualification, but there’s a reason why the team who finishes first gets this advantage. Too often Arsenal have been involved in “valiant defeats” where they’ll have a terrible first leg at home and produce a magical away result only to go out on away goals or get very close. This happened in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. If the first leg doesn’t go so well, Arsenal can take heart from their second leg performances in their valiant away goal defeats of recent years and realise that maybe, just maybe having the second leg at home can turn that valiant defeat into a win.
Mesut Ozil has plenty to prove
Not just to Arsenal fans, but the German public especially. It hasn’t been the best few weeks for our German playmaker, but he will be motivated and will relish the challenge to return to his home country, a country which has expressed their disappointment many times through the media that he just isn’t the same player as he was in Real Madrid, that he has taken a step back at Arsenal. What better way to prove the critics wrong than to put on a masterclass against the strongest team in Germany?
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