Any hope of a comeback? Not too many believe in it, as it seems, carrying a two goal deficit into an away match against the best defense in Europe. Bayern Munich seem to be as good as clear in the quarterfinals, while Arsenal are torn between waiting for a miracle and their own problems in the Premier league.
Some have suggested that Wenger won’t field his strongest lineup, giving Jack Wilshere (injured anyway) and Santi Cazorla some rest, in order to prepare them for more important challenges, more reasonable challenges. After losing 1-3 at home to Bayern in the first leg, scoring three goals against a team that has conceded only 10 league goals this season doesn’t seem likely, not for a team that struggles at both ends of the pitch like Arsenal.
The only thing that Arsenal do have to cling on is the quality of players Bayern won’t have at their disposal – Frank Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boateng are all out of this match, while Arjen Robben, who missed the weekend win over Dusseldorf, is doubtful. While this may give the chance for Luis Gustavo to start, not to mention the promising Xherdan Shakiri, it does leave a much less stronger than usual Bayern side to deal with. As we mentioned, Arsenal might not show up with their best either.
Wenger is saying one thing – Yes, a comeback is possible, but doing others. He’s planning on giving his first choice at goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, some time to rest. In his heart, it doesn’t seem like Wenger believes his team is good enough to pull off the upset, let alone the comeback, and no matter how many times Jupp Heynckes speaks of his respect for Wenger and Arsenal, using the 3-0 win over AC Milan last year as a reminder of their ability to bounce back from bad results, this isn’t the same Arsenal team, without a main character like Robin van Persie.
Prediction – Maybe Bayern don’t win, it’s likely. But it’s impossible imagining Arsenal, regardless of the lineup Wenger uses, coming up with a three goal win, something they’ve been struggling to do against much weaker opponents all season.