Bayern Munich v Arsenal: Arsene Wenger to ring changes - could these players rescue the Gunners' Champions League hopes?

Goalkeeper Szczesny rested, Wilshere, Sagna, Podolski out with 3-1 deficit to overturn in Munich

Majid Mohamed@Majid_Mohamed
Wednesday 13 March 2013 15:08
Clockwise from top left: Abou Diaby, Lukasz Fabianski, Gervinho and Andre Arshavin
Clockwise from top left: Abou Diaby, Lukasz Fabianski, Gervinho and Andre Arshavin

Arsenal have taken a weakened squad to Germany ahead of tonight's Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich.

Their remaining hopes of a trophy rest with a group of players who have not featured prominently this season after Arsène Wenger's decision to rest key players in light of the difficult task to overturn the 3-1 first-leg defeat at the Emirates and concentrate on qualifying for next season’s competition.

Wojciech Szczesny, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott are expected to be rested tonight to prepare for the Premier League game against Swansea this weekend. Nacho Monreal is ineligible for the Champions League after helping Málaga top their group earlier this season. Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Lukas Podolski are out with injuries.

Here we take a look at some of the unlikely players who could become heroes and rescue Arsenal’s European hopes in Munich:

Lukasz Fabianski: The Polish goalkeeper has recovered after a long lay-off following ankle ligament damage. Fabianski has fallen behind Szczesny and Vito Mannone in the pecking order this season, leading to speculation that he will leave Arsenal this summer. Plagued by injuries and erratic performances, Fabianski will be busy tonight and could be an unlikely hero.

Kieran Gibbs: Left-back returns after suffering yet another injury. The England international has not featured for the Gunners since 30 January after calf problems.

Per Mertesecker: German international has been at fault in an indecisive defence on more than one occasion this season. The centre-back has a chance tonight, if selected, to take command of a shaky defence and help rebuild his damaged reputation amongst Arsenal fans. The 6ft 6ins defender may be asked to stop Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic, who has netted seven times in Bayern's last nine games.

Thomas Vermaelen: Arsenal captain, if he is not also rested, will lead defence that will once again be severely tested with the likes of Mario Gomez and Thomas Müller amongst Bayern’s ranks. The Belgian has been heavily criticised and signalled out by Arsenal fans this season for his poor form and inability to lead his team. He could rekindle happier memories from his brilliant start for the Gunners in his debut season with a strong performance tonight.

Laurent Koscielny: The France international is expected to start in central defence tonight and will use his opportunity to stake a claim for the Swansea game. Koscielny, after an excellent season last year, has been unlucky to find himself regularly on the bench this season.

Carl Jenkinson: Sagna has not travelled to Germany because of a niggling injury which also led to his absence from the north London derby defeat last weekend to Tottenham. Jenkinson will have another chance in a big game to show he is ready to permanently replace the France international, if as expected Sagna does depart this summer.

Abou Diaby: The frequently injured midfielder has a difficult relationship with Arsenal fans after years of unrealised talent and erratic form. On his day though, Diaby can dominate the midfield and he has inspired the Gunners to victory before.

Francis Coquelin: Talented French youth international has been utilised at right-back but will be asked to play in his favoured defensive midfield position at the Allianz Arena. Coquelin will need to show the Arsenal fans that he can deputise for Mikel Arteta or the rarely fit Diaby.

Aaron Ramsey: Arsenal fans have mixed feelings about the Welshman. Ramsey rarely plays in the attacking midfield role he craves yet despite this he is criticised for his performances when he replaces Arteta or Diaby as a holding midfielder or when he is deployed on the wings. Ramsey has shown promise but has struggled thus far at Arsenal to realise his potential whilst he is played out of position. He could be an unlikely hero tonight.

Tomas Rosicky: Injuries have curtailed the Czech Republic captain’s career at Arsenal but he continues to be an impressive figure in their squad. Rosicky has the talent to cause Bayern problems tonight and will be an important player in the Premier League as the Gunners hunt a top-four spot.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: The teenager has something to prove after a disappointing season following his breakthrough as a first-team regular last year. ‘The Ox’ is certainly more popular than his rivals for the wide positions with the fans but he needs some match-winning performances to establish himself as a permanent fixture in the starting line-up.

Andre Arshavin: The Russian has surprisingly been included in the travelling party for the trip to Germany. He was set to move to Reading in the January transfer window but the move broke down. Arshavin will leave the Gunners this summer but could rediscover his early promise and inspire an unlikely win tonight.

Gervinho: Much maligned winger/forward has gone backwards after a mixed season last year. His trip to South African to represent the Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations provided some respite from fierce criticism for Gervinho but he will need more than one good performance before faith in him is restored.

Olivier Giroud: The France international has not scored in his last six outings for the Gunners and was particularly poor against Tottenham in the north London derby. Giroud though has done well in his debut season after his move from Montpellier. He has scored 14 goals in 39 appearances so far and has provided 10 assists. Can he now deliver in Munich?

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