Arsenal v Bayern Munich: Clean sheet top priority for Arsenal, but Arsene Wenger admits Gunners face the best
Since last year's Champions League meeting, the European champions have obtained probably the best coach in the world and their main German rivals' best player
The jubilant roar on the final whistle as Arsenal knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup on Sunday could not have been in greater contrast to the reaction on the same ground exactly a year earlier when Arsène Wenger's team were booed off the pitch after losing 1-0 to the Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
On each occasion Bayern Munich were due at the Emirates next in the knockout round of the Champions League, and those contrasting results are one reason why Arsenal are optimistic that the outcome will be more favourable than 2013's 3-1 defeat to the German side. Fifth in the Premier League a year ago, they were low on confidence and as Jack Wilshere recalled of the Bayern game: "I think we were a bit nervous. There was a lot of tension in the stadium."
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The fluent Germans went 2-0 up inside 20 minutes and, although Lukas Podolski retrieved one goal, a scrambled third from the visitors left Arsenal with too much to do in the return leg. It was to their credit that they scored early and late in the Allianz Arena, only going out on away goals, but too much damage had been done in London.
The only trouble with comparisons with last February is that Bayern have undoubtedly improved as well, which since they went on to win the German Double and the Champions League, makes them even more formidable opposition.
"We know we face the competition favourites," said Wenger, who did not demur when it was suggested to him that they are currently the best club side in the world.
Since becoming European champions at Wembley in May, they have added probably the best coach in the world in Pep Guardiola and bought their main German rivals Borussia Dortmund's best player, Mario Götze; all of which seems almost unfair.
The statistics of Bayern's last 12 months are staggering: in 51 games since losing the home leg to Arsenal they have been beaten only by Dortmund, in Germany's equivalent of the Community Shield, and in a dead Champions League group match by Manchester City after throwing away a 2-0 lead – though they beat them at the Etihad. World Club champions in December, they hold a 16-point lead in the Bundesliga, having won 20 of their last 21 matches. A goal at the Emirates will be their 100th this season from 36 games.
Guardiola, who never triumphed at the Emirates when he was in charge of Barcelona, said Arsenal would test his side: "It's my third time as a trainer here to play against Arsenal. I've never won here.
"I learnt that you can't dominate 90 minutes against Arsenal. It's impossible. You can play good, you can dominate during half-time, 30 minutes, 75 minutes, but complete 90 minutes it's impossible. Always you have a problem."
Wenger said: "It's important not to concede at home.
"Bayern have six or seven players who can create a chance at any moment so the quality of our defending will play a big part."
For that reason, the suspension brought about by Mikel Arteta's second yellow card in the final group match away to Napoli was foolish. However, Mathieu Flamini is available to sit alongside Wilshere, who will come back in after sitting out the Liverpool game, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's match-winning performance made him a candidate to start instead of the more experienced Tomas Rosicky.
Guardiola's selections are less predictable than those of his predecesors, but he must do without Franck Ribéry, the self-styled best player in Europe, and his most obvious deputy Xherdan Shaqiri.
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