Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich: 5 Bold Predictions for the 2nd Leg at Allianz Arena
It ain't over 'till it's over.
Or so Arsenal fans would like to believe. Despite Yogi Berra's sage words, most Gunners fans acknowledge that their team stands essentially no chance of overturning a 3-1 deficit against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
But that won't stop us from watching, now, will it? You know you want to. Just in case. So that if a miracle does happen—and it would be an utter miracle—you can say you saw it first.
In that spirit of desperation, I present to you five bold, but at least slightly realistic predictions for the return leg in Germany.
Arsenal Will Score
I said this was unlikely before the two teams first met in North London, and it's an even riskier bet now.
Arsenal never really threatened to score at home against Bayern, except for one fluky Lukas Podolski header which came off a corner that never should have been given.
The Germans seem to have some sort of otherworldly power to close every hole or pocket of space that any team could ever create on a football pitch. Which, as one might imagine, makes it difficult for the other team to score.
Nevertheless, Arsenal will have no pressure on their shoulders, so they're likely to go after a result with abandon. The worst that happens is a second embarrassment.
You Won't Be Able to Tell If It's the Capital One Cup
I don't think Arsene Wenger's dignity and sense of obligation to Arsenal would ever permit him to field a team of schoolboys against arguably the best side in the world, but it would not be entirely unreasonable to do so.
Arsenal had almost no chance of winning the Champions League anyway, and at present the odds are almost zero. So why risk any of your best players when the race for fourth place—the real prize at the end of the season—is so tight?
While the likes of Damian Martinez, Serge Gnabry and Martin Angha probably won't get a run-out, expect several of the fringe players and backups to get some playing time and give the regulars a rest.
I'm looking at you Tomas Rosicky. And, yes, even you Gervinho.
Arsene Wenger Will Be Banned After the Game
It's happened at the end of Arsenal's last two Champions League campaigns, and Michel Platini is still the President of UEFA, so why shouldn't it happen this year, too?
Arsene Wenger and Platini haven't been on friendly terms for years, so the head of European football was an easy scapegoat for the Arsenal manager's extremely harsh touchline bans.
Who knows what will provoke the Frenchman this time?
Probably nothing, but that won't stop Platini from getting the detention slip out.
Arsenal Will Have More Possession
Believe it or not, Arsenal actually had significantly more of the ball than Bayern during the first leg, according to ESPN FC.
Yet the Germans still seemed to dominate the game, not allowing Arsenal much space to create any real chances and finishing their opportunities much more clinically.
If that strategy worked once for Jupp Heynckes' men, why change it the second time?
Bayern will be quite content to sit back and deny the Gunners the passing lanes they need around the penalty box, swarming the ball when it is advanced too far beyond the halfway line and counterattacking ruthlessly.
It's a tactic that worked to near-perfection for them at the Emirates.
Arsenal Will Come Up One Goal Short
It's been the story of Arsenal's season: Fall behind early, get a kick in the behind at the halfway point, reappear with new vigor and pull off a surprising result.
Bayern Munich don't seem like the type of side that the Gunners can pull their little magic trick against.
But that's not to say Arsenal won't try. When a team has no pressure whatsoever weighing on it, strange things tend to happen. The impossible almost occurred last season against AC Milan, as Arsenal came within one goal of overturning a four-goal deficit.
However, Bayern are a better team than Milan were, and the second leg of this tie will be at one of the harshest environments in Europe for the visiting team. While Arsenal can hold out the slimmest hope of winning by two goals, that third will be almost impossible to get.
Start preparing for an end of the season that only includes Premier League football.