Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich: Keys to Victory for Each Side at the Emirates

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Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich: Keys to Victory for Each Side at the Emirates
Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Arsenal face a daunting task when Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich visit the Emirates on Wednesday for the first leg of their last-16 tie for a match, which could make or break the Gunners' season.

Despite a small domestic wobble, which included a 5-1 thrashing to Liverpool and a toothless, goalless draw at home to Manchester United, Arsenal returned to form on Sunday, knocking Liverpool out of The FA Cup in a 2-1 win.

However, any repeat of their performance at the same stage last year—when the German champions ran out 3-1 winners in North London effectively ending the tie after one leg—could see Arsenal's season derailed.

A win, though, would likely be a huge boost for Arsene Wenger's side, who have looked a different proposition this season.

As reported by Raphael Honigstein in The GuardianBayern captain Philipp Lahm is well aware of the threat Arsenal pose:

I follow Arsenal a bit more this year and they've left a good impression.

They're fighting for the championship, that's not a coincidence: I believe they have developed as a team.

They've become much stronger, the squad is more balanced. And they still play the way Arsenal always play.

They want to have the ball, they like playing it short, and they have outstanding individuals.

The biggest danger for us, right now, is facing Arsenal.

Here, then, we take a look at the keys to victory for both sides in this huge Champions League clash.

 

Keys to Victory

Arsenal Must Be Solid at the Back

A key feature of this year's rejuvenated Arsenal side has been their quality in defence, a factor Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere highlighted in the pregame press conference:

Marshalled by the terrific Per Mertesacker, Arsenal have conceded just six goals at home in the Premier League this season and recorded 12 clean sheets from 26 games, according to ESPNFC.com

It is essential to Arsenal's chances that they keep Bayern's attacking players quiet.

Sang Tan/Associated Press

In the Bundesliga, they have scored 57 goals in 21 games, with forward Mario Mandzukic's 12 from 19 appearances making him the club's leading goalscorer this term.

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Any repeat of this fixture last season, which saw Arsenal 2-0 down inside 21 minutes, and the tie will be out of reach.

A clean sheet should be top of the agenda for Arsenal on Wednesday and, as well as Mertesacker, Mathieu Flamini will be essential in the defensive midfield roleespecially with Mikel Arteta suspended.

 

Bayern Must Dominate in Midfield

Coming up against an Arsenal side famed for their ability to keep possession, Bayern must endeavour to disrupt this tactic.

With the acquisition of Mesut Ozil in the summer, the Gunners bagged themselves a bona fide star and a man of whom Bayern will be wary.

If allowed, Wilshere and Ozil could run the game and cause some trouble for Bayern's defenders.

Alastair Grant/Associated Press

According to Squawka, the former Real Madrid man has created a staggering 63 chances in 21 league appearances this season, making him Arsenal's most potent threat from midfield. However, if any team in Europe has the ability to run the game from midfield, it's Guardiola's side.

The wealth of talent in the Bayern midfield is the envy of Europe and includes the likes of Lahm, Toni Kroos, Javi Martinez, a returning Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thiago Alcantara, who recently set a new Bundesliga record for the most touches in a match:

If the German champions can starve Arsenal of possession in the midfield, they will be in with a great chance of returning to Munich in pole position in the tie.   

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