Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich: Mesut Ozil and Tuesday's Most Likely Match-Winners

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Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich: Mesut Ozil and Tuesday's Most Likely Match-Winners
Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Arsenal welcome Bayern Munich to the Emirates Stadium this Tuesday in the hopes that they might be able to earn redemption against the team that knocked them out of last season's competition.

For Mesut Ozil, it's a Bundesliga reunion of epic proportions, the German having last faced Der FCB in 2012, when his Real Madrid side were also knocked out by Bayern at the semifinal stage of that year's European tournament.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Arsenal's creative gem has faced the reigning Champions League title holders on 11 occasions in his career, but only managed to win once, per Transfermarkt, and his influence will be pivotal if the Gunners are to claim an early lead in this Round of 16 tie.

That being said, the playmaker isn't alone in that vein of thought, with several other superstar names promising to bear a particularly big significance on who comes out on top in the North London clash.

 

Jack Wilshere

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Pep Guardiola has at his disposal one of the strongest midfield hubs in world football, with any combination of his central stars likely to trouble Tuesday's hosts.

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In order to quell that threat, Jack Wilshere will need to step up in the absence of a suspended Mikel Arteta and be the engine-room general that many in North London know their youth product can become.

For balance, there's no more rounded central midfielder among Arsene Wenger's ranks than Wilshere, who will be required to stop the flow of Bayern's metronomic midfield. His defensive qualities will be just as important as when the ball is at his feet on Wednesday.

Squawka statistics show that Wilshere has attempted 47 tackles, made 94 dribbling attempts at the opposition and maintained a passing accuracy of 85 percent this league term so far.

It's precisely that rounded bag of tricks that will need to be present in midweek, with Wenger's other outlets not as capable of competing in as many parts of the game.

 

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Michael Probst/Associated Press

Bastian Schweinsteiger is bound to be one of those causing issues at Arsenal's core, having returned to league action from a tendon injury last weekend.

Just prior to his injury, OptaJean showed just how important the 29-year-old's passing influence has been for his side thus far in the campaign:

Philipp Lahm would seem the most obvious choice to make way for Schweinsteiger in midfield, having started in his adopted anchoring role against Freiburg on Saturday (Feb. 15).

Whether it's in a deep-lying position, orientated around stopping the flow of opposition ball, or pushed further forward in order to give the likes of Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben a helping hand, Schweinsteiger can't be allowed to settle on the ball if Arsenal are to come out of this first leg unscathed.  

 

Mesut Ozil 

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

The 25-year-old's move to the Emirates Stadium began in seamless fashion, but after a dodgy spell of form, Ozil faces arguably the largest responsibility of all in unlocking Bayern's defence on Tuesday.

The Mirror's John Cross recently made the argument ahead of Arsenal's FA Cup win over Liverpool that Ozil is in need of a rest given the prominent role that he's been handed this term:

Guardiola has such a wealth of options at his disposal that a lot of Ozil's success will depend on just who among the Bayern midfield will be deployed in order to cage the German's threat.

Javi Martinez only recently made his return from injury and has featured in midfield and defence since then, but the Spaniard's history of playing against Ozil during his time at Athletic Bilbao could weigh in on the manager's mind.

Wenger's premier puppeteer has created a magnificent 63 scoring opportunities for Arsenal in just 21 Premier League outings this term, per Squawka, 25 more than any other Gunners player, putting the crucial nature of his offensive input into context.

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