Bayern Munich vs. Arsenal: Top Storylines and Players to Watch

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2014

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger applauds fans after the English Premier League soccer match between Stoke City and Arsenal at Britannia Stadium in Stoke On Trent, England, Saturday, March 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

At the same stage of the Champions League last season, Arsenal had to travel to the Allianz Arena and attempt to overcome a two-goal deficit in the second leg of their last-16 tie with Bayern Munich.

Tuesday's game presents an almost identical challenge as the Gunners travel to Germany hoping to make up for their 2-0 loss at the Emirates last month.

In 2013, Arsenal produced an outstanding performance, beating Bayern 2-0 but going out on away goals having lost the first leg 3-1.

A similar level of performance will be needed this time around to give Arsene Wenger's side any chance of advancing to the quarter-finals.

Pep Guardiola's side come into this second leg on the back of a 6-1 away thrashing of Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, in which they set a new record for consecutive wins:

They are currently sitting top of the league, leading the way by a staggering 20 points to second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

Despite their imperious form and two-goal cushion, memories of last year will mean the German champions won't take their opponents lightly. 

Possession will be key for Bayern. If they control the game, and do not allow the north London side any great possession, they will qualify easily.

Arsenal will be aware that the first leg could have gone a whole lot differently had it not been for Mesut Ozil's penalty miss and Wojciech Szczesny's sending off.

Having performed very well in their 4-1 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Everton at the weekend, Arsenal should be in a confident mood.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 08:  Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal in action during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on March 8, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

However, with Szczesny suspended, Laurent Koscielny a doubt after sitting out the Everton game, and the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Kim Kallstrom unavailable, Wenger's team selection will be key.

Let's take a look at the key players to watch in Tuesday's tie.


Olivier Giroud, Arsenal

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 08:  Olivier Giroud of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Mesut Oezil after scoring his team's fourth goal during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on March 8, 2014 in London, England.  (P
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The Frenchman sat on the bench in the first leg, with the very inexperienced Yaya Sanogo preferred. 

However, Wenger must opt for Giroud this time round as he is Arsenal's most potent goal threat.

If the Gunners are to overturn the deficit, they will need goals, and the 27-year-old will be essential if Arsenal are to claim victory.

He scored two goals in a 30-minute cameo appearance at the weekend. If he can replicate this kind of goalscoring form in Germany, Arsenal will be in with a chance of qualifying for the last eight.


Franck Ribery, Bayern Munich

Gero Breloer/Associated Press

Arguably his side's best player, he returned from injury and bagged a goal in their league game against Wolfsburg at the weekend.

The 30-year-old was out injured in the first leg and his return will add even greater creativity and a further goal threat to an already brilliant attacking line.

He will cause problems out on the flanks and may well be instrumental in deciding the outcome of the the tie.

If Bayern get a goal, they will be all but through and Ribery's presence makes that a strong possibility.


Per Mertesacker, Arsenal

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16:  Per Mertesacker of Arsenal celebrates at the end of the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on February 16, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsenal have the ability to get the goals to turn the tie around but if they are not tight at the back that will count for nothing.

One of Arsenal's stand-out performers so far this season, the giant German will have to keep the Arsenal defence well organised if they are going to stop Bayern from scoring at home.

His presence in the air will also be key in counteracting the opposition's threat from set pieces.

Furthermore, his experience with the German national side will bring crucial experience and knowledge of many of the Bayern team.