Arsenal require second leg miracle to progress to last 8

Arsenal host Bayern Munich in the second leg of the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, at the Emirates Stadium tonight (7.45pm kick-off UK time).

The Gunners lost the first leg 5-1 at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Thiago (2), Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller scored the goals for Bayern Munich; Alexis Sánchez netted for Arsenal.

Arsenal will require a miraculous recovery to be in the Quarter-final draw in Nyon on 17 March.

Only three teams have ever overturned a four goal first leg-loss in European competition.

Deportivo La Coruña hold the record for the biggest first-leg deficit overturned in the UEFA Champions League
era, recovering from a 4-1 away loss to AC Milan with a 4-0 home win in the 2003/04 quarter-finals.

Borussia Mönchengladbach beat Real Madrid 5-1 at home in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup third round, only to lose the return 4-0.

Leixões SC (against FC La Chaux-de-Fonds, 1961/62 European Cup Winners’ Cup first round) and FK Partizan
(Queens Park Rangers FC, 1984/85 UEFA Cup second round) overturned 6-2 away losses with 5-0 and 4-0 home
victories respectively.

Arsenal now face exiting at the last 16 of the competition for a seventh season in a row.

Bayern Munich have already beaten Arsenal at this stage in 2013 and 2014.

The Gunners have not been past the round of 16 since 2009/10.

Bayern take it as the norm to progress to the latter stages of the competition. They last lost in the round of 16 in 2011.

Under Pep Guardiola, Bayern were losing UEFA Champions League semi-finalists in each of the last three campaigns.

Arsenal  suffered a fourth defeat in their last six fixtures in all competitions, with the 3-1 loss to Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday.

Danny Welbeck’s first Premier League goal of the season early in he 2nd half briefly offered a route back into the game for Arsenal, who were 2-0 down at the break but conceding an injury time  goal sealed their fate.

The result means the Gunners have now dropped to fifth place in the Premier League table.

The fall-out from the match though has been dominated by Arsene Wenger’s decision to drop Alexis Sanchez to the bench. The Chilean was introduced at the start of the second half, with the Gunners already 2-0 down.

The media has reported that Sanchez has been involved in bust-ups with Wenger and his team-mates. This has taken place with speculation that Sanchez wants to leave Arsenal at the end of the season, with 15 months remaining on his current contract.

Javi Martínez scored his first goal since November 2015 as Bundesliga leaders Bayern extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 16 games, with  a 3-0 win at FC Koln on Saturday.  Juan Bernat and substitute Franck Ribery scored Bayern’s other goals to help them maintain a seven point lead over RB Leipzig.

Head-to-Head

Bayern take on an English team for the 51st time in a UEFA competition, and their record is positive: FCB have won 20 and lost 14 matches, with 16 games ending in a draw. However, Arsenal’s record against German sides is also positive with 16 victories, 13 defeats and six draws.

The sides have met 11 times in European competition, all since 2000/01. Bayern success in the first leg in Munich means they now have six wins, Arsenal three and there have been two draws.

In last season’s group stage, Arsenal beat Bayern 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium, with goals from Olivier Giroud and Mesut Özil.

However, Bayern gained revenge with a 5-1 home win in Munich, with Thomas Müller (2), David Alba and Arjen Robben on the scoresheet. Giroud again scored for Arsenal.

In the 2013/14 Champions League round of 16 second leg Lukas Podolski equalised within two minutes of Bastian Schweinsteiger putting the hosts ahead. Arsenal went out of the competition having lost 2-0 at home, with Müller once more on target.

At the same stage of the competition in 2012/13 the Gunners won 2-0 in Germany, Giroud and Laurent Koscielny finding the net. They exited on away goals though having lost 3-1 at home, where Müller again scored.

The other two meetings between the sides in Bavaria both resulted in Bayern victories, in the 2004/15 round of  16 by a 3-1 scoreline and the 2000/01 second group stage by a 1-0 scoreline.

Key Men

Alexis Sanchez has scored 20 goals in 35 matches in all competitions for Arsenal in 2016/17.

Robert Lewandowski, has scored 37 goals in 38 matches in 2016/17 for club and country. He has six goals in seven matches in this seasons UEFA Champions League competition.

The Managers

Arsene Wenger

The build-up to match has been dominated by stories of bust-ups between Alexis Sanchez and the manager – and other players – after the Chilean was dropped to the bench in the defeat to Liverpool on Saturday.

Here is what Arsene Wenger had to say about the match itself in his pre-match press conference yesterday afternoon.

“We have no other choice but to attack and try to score. They’re one of the best if not the best teams in Europe, which makes the whole thing very difficult.

I think it’s up to us to show a different face tomorrow… because we literally blew it away there in the second half.

The players are ready to fight.

We live in a world of small margins & if you drop off a little, it looks like you don’t want to fight.”

On whether Sanchez will be recalled tonight, Wenger added.

“I haven’t decided yet.

What does it mean, the definition? What is a happy person?

I hope he will be very happy tomorrow night.

On whether he will sign a new contract, Wenger said.

“I think I have built this club. I want it to be successful so I want to take a bit of time before making a decision.

It is about the team performance, not the individual, Our game is built on collective expression.”

Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti would advance to the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition for the 11th time if Bayern prevail. Only Sir Alex Ferguson has achieved this more often, 12 times, and always with Manchester United. Ancelotti would have progressed to the last eight with a total of six different clubs.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference last night, Ancelotti, said.

“I’ve spoken with the players. They know that the start of the game will be tough. We are focused and want to play our game”

When reminded he was in charge of the AC Milan sides that suffered Champions League comeback defeats against Deportivo and Liverpool, he added:  “I try to forget that but I can’t”

Asked if he sympathised with the pressure that Arsene Wenger is currently experiencing, Ancelotti said.

“Of course I sympathise with Wenger. I have huge respect for him.

In our job we have to live with critics,” he said. “The most important is being able to consider the right critics.

Wenger is a manager with a lot of experience, more than others, and I’m sure he will be able to manage this situation. It’s a situation that can happen to every manager. Criticism is normal.

I sympathise with him as a manager. As a man I have a good relationship with him. I have a lot of respect for him, not every manager will be able to do what he did here in this club.”

Asked about the possibility of not facing Alexis Sanchez, he said.

Alexis Sanchez is a very strong, very dangerous striker.

If he plays it is clear that we have to control him because he is very fast and has a lot of quality.”

Team News

Arsenal

David Ospina will replace Petr Cech in-goal, as he done in all of Arsenal’s Champions League matches this season.

Mesut Ozil once again misses out. He has returned to training, but hasn’t recovered sufficiently from the illness that kept him out the match with Liverpool on Saturday.

Mohamed Elneny is set to be out for at least three more weeks with the ankle injury sustained in the FA Cup win over Sutton United.

Bayern

Philipp Lahm serves a one-game ban. Rafinha will start at right back in Lahm’s place.

Jérôme Boateng is back in training after picking up a chest injury in December 2016, but isn’t yet ready to play.

Renato Sanches, who’s overcome a cold, and Douglas Costa, who picked up a knock during Saturday’s 3-0 win at Köln, are both available for selection.

Match Officials

Greek referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos will make his debut in the Champions League Knock-Out phase tonight.

Referee: Tasos Sidiropoulos (GRE)
Assistant Referee: Damianos Efthymiadis (GRE)
Assistant Referee: Polychronis Kostaras (GRE)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Charalambos Kalogeropoulos (GRE)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Alexandros Aretopoulos (GRE)
Fourth Official: Lazaros Dimitriadis (GRE)
UEFA Referee Observer: Patrick Kelly (IRL)
UEFA Delegate: Pierino Lardi (SUI)

Prediction

Even though winning the tie overall looks to be a hopeless task, Arsenal will want to regain some pride after their thrashing in Munich in the first leg.  A 2-2 draw.

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