UEFA Champions League preview: Arsenal v Bayern Munich
By Football News
Arsenal and Bayern Munich head into their Champions League round-of-16 first leg at Emirates Stadium in contrasting form.
Arsene Wenger's men host the first leg in London on Tuesday, three days after suffering a shock 1-0 loss to Blackburn in the FA Cup.
On the other hand, Bayern have stormed 15 points clear atop the Bundesliga and have won their five competitive matches this year.
Jupp Heynckes' side are unbeaten in 18 outings and – despite being away from home – deserve favouritism.
That leaves Arsenal in danger of finishing yet another season without silverware, with the last major trophy they lifted coming with their victory in the FA Cup in 2005.
Their chances of progressing deep in Europe took a huge blow when they fnished second in Group B to Schalke, leaving them certain to face a massive task in the last 16.
A rampant Bayern side will be hard to stop, especially with the firepower Heynckes has at his disposal in the attacking third.
Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic is the equal leading goalscorer in the Bundesliga with 15, while the likes of Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger are all capable of finding the net.
Add Mario Gomez, who has been unable to recapture his form of last season after his ankle injury, and Franck Ribery to the equation and Arsenal will have their hands full.
Mueller shapes as being the most dangerous attacker and his ability to set up goals as well as score is crucial for Bayern.
In their five competitive match wins in 2013, Bayern are yet to concede while they have netted 13 times.
In what is likely to be a high-scoring tie, Arsenal have attacking weapons of their own when at their best.
Forward Lukas Podolski will face his former club, while there is also good news on the injury front for Wenger.
Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny returned from injury against the Rovers, while Jack Wilshere came off the bench but should start on Tuesday.
Arsenal had recorded five straight wins before the loss to Blackburn but 1-0 victories over Stoke City and Sunderland were largely uninspiring.
An upset win over two legs against Bayern would silence Wenger's critics, but form – and class – suggests last season's runners-up should progress.