So. It is here at long last. After a quite a long break, the midweek evening "delights" are back. For Arsenal fans, it is a deja vu moment as they get to play Bayern Munich yet again like last season when they met at the same stage.
Let us see how things have panned out in the Champions League thus far in the group stages this season for both the teams.
Arsenal managed to come out second in a group that saw three teams finish with 12 points. Needless to say, it was a very tough group with tough opponents and Arsenal had been written off by some even before a match was played. There were some magnificent performances along the way. The home game against Napoli and the away game at Dortmund were the highlights of the group stages.
Defence-wise, the often fragile defense that Arsenal had seem to be in the past as it withstood some of the the best attacking talents in Europe which meant that Arsenal conceded just five goals, the fewest in their group. They would be worried about their goal scoring tally of just eight though, since it is only the third best tally in the group, especially since all the eight goals have been from open play. So, maybe they would want some goals from set-pieces and add a bit more variety going forward.
Bayern on the other hand a relatively easier group of opponents apart from Manchester City. They were expected to top the group but in the end it turned out to be a lot closer than thought as Manchester City nearly snatched the top spot in the final group stage match. Apart from that match, Bayern were rolling over everyone in front of them with consummate ease. They ultimately finished the group stages with five wins and a single loss to go with the 17 goals scored and five conceded. That shows how balanced a team Bayern have been, both going forward and at the back.
The loss of Franck Ribery, who has been Bayern's best player for quite some time now, will no doubt be a big miss for Bayern. But, even without him, they have more than enough talent in their squad to trouble any opponent. Arsenal too have their best player at the start of the season, Aron Ramsey, missing. So, both teams are not exactly full strength. But, both teams have coped well in their absence so far and one could argue they have been hardly missed.
On paper, Bayern are the heavy favorites. They are the current Champions League holders, have an unbelievable squad of players and also have at the helm, one of the best managers of our time; not to mention a mind boggling form they have in the Bundesliga this season. Arguably, in football, they are the closest thing that is to "unbeatable".
But as they say, games are not won on paper, and anything can happen in football. Arsenal will take some confidence from to the fact that hey actually won 2-0 at the Allianz Arena last season when they had their backs to the wall. This year is different, one would think. But Manchester City managed to defeat them at Allianz this year in the group stage, so there seems to be a chink in their armour after all.
Article by Subesh Bhattarai
Calling all Arsenal fans: Are you confident ahead of tonight's game? What's more important to you, a win or a clean sheet? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
Follow our new Twitter page where we will be updating you with all the latest football news @squarefootball1
We also have a community on Google+.com