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The relationship between Arsene Wenger and sizeable portions of the Arsenal fanbase has been strained for quite a while. So, when Wenger said that finishing top of the Champions League group does not guarantee an easier tie in the knockout stage, it was seen by some Gooners simply as a way to play down the significance of Arsenal’s failure to hold on to a lead against PSG at the Emirates.
In the end, Arsenal did manage to top Group A but it did them little good. Their reward was a last 16 tie against Bayern Munich, the side who knocked Arsenal out at that stage in 2005, 2013 and 2014.
With the team at a fairly low ebb after some poor results in the Premier League, Arsenal fans can only hope that their team don’t get a pasting at the Allianz Arena. Bayern Munich will be doing everything in their power to kill the tie before the return game in London so there is real potential that this may become another chastening evening for Wenger and his team.
There’s also the added pressure on Carlo Ancelotti’s shoulders to pick up a big win. His early days at Bayern came with a significant amount of trouble and criticism and he must ensure the team’s recent good form continues.
Bayern Munich 8/15 (Paddy Power)
Draw 18/5 (Sportingbet)
Arsenal 6/1 (Bet365)
The bookies are clearly expecting Arsenal to have their work cut out in Bavaria. You won’t often find the Gunners at 6/1 but even those odds may be a little short. Bayern have won a record 15 straight home Champions League matches while Arsenal have been eliminated at the round of 16 in the last six seasons.
Despite the doom and gloom surrounding this tie, Arsenal do have good recent memories of playing Bayern. The Gunners’s 2-0 win in last season’s group stage was their third victory over Bayern since 2005. The problem is, all of those wins came at home and they’ve only avoided defeat at the Allianz Arena once.
You’re not going to get rich backing Bayern to win at 8/15 with Paddy Power but you’re sure to be better off than if you back Arsenal. Anyway, if you want a little more bang for your buck you can always combine a bet on Bayern to win and there being over 2.5 goals at odds of 11/10 with Coral.
Bayern 1-0 @ 15/2 (Ladbrokes)
Bayern 2-0 @ 15/2 (Paddy Power)
Bayern 2-1 @ 15/2 (William Hill)
Draw 1-1 @ 8/1 (William Hill)
Bayern 3-0 @ 11/1 (Paddy Power)
Bayern 3-1 @ 11/1 (William Hill)
There is not a score line reflecting an Arsenal win in any of the eight shortest priced selections in the bookies’ Correct Score market. That gives you a clear idea of just how one-sided most people in the know expect Wednesday’s match to be.
We agree with the bookies that Bayern are highly likely to take a lead into the return game at the Emirates but can Arsenal at least make things interesting by scoring an away goal?
Well, Bayern did only manage to keep two clean sheets in the group stage. They also got beaten 3-2 away to FK Rostov which shows they can be vulnerable against sides who take the game to them. Arsenal have also failed to score in just two of their games against Bayern since the turn of the millennium.
As we all know, away goals can be precious in the Champions League. If Arsenal grab one, a two goal deficit becomes capable of being overturned at the Emirates. That does make the odds of 11/1 that William Hill are quoting about Bayern winning 3-1 look tempting for a smaller stakes bet.
Robert Lewandowski 5/2 (Sky Bet)
Arjen Robben 9/2 (Sky Bet)
Thomas Muller 9/2 (Sky Bet)
Douglas Costa 5/1 (Sky Bet)
Franck Ribery 5/1 (Sky Bet)
Fabian Benko 11/2 (Sky Bet)
Arturo Vidal 6/1 (Sky Bet)
Kingsley Coman 6/1 (Sky Bet)
The size of the task facing Arsenal’s defence could not be made any clearer than by taking a look at the First Goalscorer market. The top eight selections are all world class Bayern Munich attackers. Alexis Sanchez is the lowest priced Arsenal player but at 7/1 with Sky Bet, his chances of scoring first are rated lower than Arsenal’s chances of winning the match.
Given Sanchez’s quality and incredible competitiveness it could be worth throwing a dart at him to score first but backing a Bayern player would seem a safer option.
Robert Lewandowski (5/2 with Sky Bet) would seem the obvious bet given his incredible goalscoring record since joining Bayern but Douglas Costa does also catch the eye at 5/1 with Sky Bet.
Bayern Munich to win and over 2.5 goals to be scored at 11/10 with Coral
3-1 correct score at 11/1 with William Hill