IT’S DEJA VU FOR THE GOONERS

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For the second consecutive season, the gooners would square up against Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. Just like last season, this tie is a reward for finishing second in the group. Last season, Arsene’s men were drawn in a group containing Schalke 04 and Olympiakos but due to some poor performances, we finished second and faced Bayern. This season too, we were 10 minutes away from finishing top of the group but conceded 2 late goals and were even happy to just qualify after Napoli turned up the heat; and like last season, we get the reward of the Bavarians.

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Are we facing the same Bayern team we beat last year?

Definitely not. Jupp Heynkes built his team round strength in midfield, power and pace down the wings and a powerful and good finisher. His fluid 4-2-1-3 formation made his side very difficult to beat and it came as a surprise to even die-hard gooners when their side won there 2-0. This season, there is a new manager in Pep Gourdiola. He has brought in players with flair more than strength, Mario Gotze and Thiago are not typically the strongest players but some of the most skillfull. Also, he has adopted the false nine tactics with either Muller or Gotze playing the false nine role and it has given them results. He has however not discarded the winning formula of last season as Ribery, Robben, Lahm, Muller and even Mandzukic are all key elements in his formulae. Is this team stronger than last season? I think so. They have so many options in the team and have players that can execute various game plans. It would surely  be another big test for Arsene’s men.

The importance of the first leg

The way Arsenal plays in the first leg would be hugely important. In the same fixture last season, we made the tie difficult with a poor first leg where we lost 3-1 at the Emirates. It gave the Bavarians a window of opportunity in the second leg. If we are to win this game, we must make sure that we have a very good first leg at the Emirates. Arsene and his boys must be very efficient with their play that day and make sure that we take a lead to Munich. Anything less than that would mean that we would be in for another hard and nervy period in the Allianz Arena.

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How Arsenal should play them

Its quite too early to discuss this subject. A lot could change between now and February but there is no harm in mentioning  the subject. Bayern have various styles of play, from the tiki-taka, to the false nine, to the pump the ball into the box and so on; but if things remain the same, Pep might most likely use the false nine, with Gotze playing that role. What that means is that Bayern would look to control the midfield which Arsenal must not allow. Offensively, we would need to be very fast and catch the full backs off guard when they move forward. Theo Walcott should definitely start. Our full backs must also be very alert to cope with the threat of Ribery, Robben, Muller or Shaqiri.

I personally think that this is a very fair tie for the gooners. It would not be easy, but I think that this might just be the fairest draw that we could get. Messi and Neymar might just have been too hot to handle, Ronaldo and Bale are finding their form, Ath. Madrid are having a run similar to Dortmund last year and PSG’s Cavani and Zlatan are potent threats to any team. So were might just have had the least meanest devil to contend with.

In a funny addition, no team has defended the UCL crown since it was re-branded from the European Cup and so if the hoo-doo continues over Bayern, then we might just have some luck over the Champions; but first we have a top of the league position to protect. Let us hope that the Deja Vu  process is not completed and Arsenal wins the fixture. #BELIEVE #COYG

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