Preview by Numbers: Bayern Munich v. Arsenal, Champions League Group Matchday 4

Allianz Arena, Munich
Wednesday, November 4
2:45 p.m. EST, 19:45 GMT
  • Match Officials from Italy
    • Referee: Gianluca Rocchi
    • Assistants: Elenito Di Liberatore and Mauro Tonolini
    • 4th Official: Andrea Padovan
    • Additional Assistants: Antonio Damato and Carmine Russo
  • Reverse Fixture: Arsenal 2 - 0 Bayern Munich
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 3 Arsenal wins, 4 Bayern wins, 2 draws
  • Arsenal's European Form: W-L-W // L-L-W
  • Bayern Munich's European Form: W-L-W // W-W-L
Arsenal could need a tiebreaker to
qualify for not-Thursdayball.
This isn't a "must-win" game for Arsenal, thanks to their result in the reverse fixture, but a loss could certainly be very damaging. Should Bayern and Olympiacos both win tonight, Arsenal would find themselves six points out of second place with only six points remaining on the table; in effect, they could only take second on a tiebreaker. In this scenario, Bayern and Olympiacos would face each other on matchday five knowing both would go through with a draw, which is... far from ideal... Even if Bayern does us a favor and beats Olympiacos, Arsenal would have to go to Greece and win by two clear goals to guarantee the tiebreaker. So, yeah, a draw tonight would be really helpful, but a really big ask as well.

With the squad's depth running thin through injuries and the North London derby looming on Sunday, Arsenal are going to have to dig deep and grind out some results. A much needed international break follows, so let's get two results and then recuperate a bit!

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Bellerin (groin,) Walcott (calf,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring,) Arteta (ankle,) Ramsey (hamstring,) Ospina (shoulder,) Welbeck (knee,) Wilshere (ankle,) Rosicky (knee)

Hamstring! Get it?! AHAHAH!
I'm sorry.
It gets worse!

Arsene Wenger stated that right back Hector Bellerin has a "small problem" (read: disaster) with his groin and will not be risked. That will force out-of-form Mathieu Debuchy isn't duty; I suspect he's going to have a similar kind of season as Nacho Monreal had two years ago: lack of regular playing time resulting in a lack of quality.

Outside of that, with two games left until the international break over a five day span, Arsene Wenger is going to have to juggle his squad carefully to get through to the break.

Will there be any further rotation in the squad? Is there room to even make a move like that? Could Arsenal really make any other changes to the XI that beat Swansea without risking too much quality? I really don't think they can.

Predicted XI: Cech, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Alexis, Campbell, Ozil, Giroud.

Bayern Munich Squad News

Out: Gotze (groin,) Rode (tendon,) Ribery (ankle)
Doubts: Badstuber (thigh,) Bernat (groin,) Kirchhoff (Achilles,) Benatia (thigh)

This guy could be back.
As compared to the injury news from the reverse fixture, Mario Gotze, Franck Ribery, and Sebastian Rode remain out with their respective ailments. Holger Badstuber remains a doubt, out since April with a thigh injury. Jan Kirchhoff has not played since June, though he has been an unused substitute in Bayern's last five matches. Medhi Benatia, one of 37 finalists for African footballer of the year, has not played since August with a thigh injury, but has made the bench for Bayern's last two matches. Juan Bernat is also a doubt as he recovers from a groin injury.

Arjen Robben is back; he had been unavailable for the trip to the Emirates, which gives Bayern more attacking bite than they had in the reverse match. However, since Bayern's midfield is so stacked, there's a chance he won't even start.

Predicted XI: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Martinez, Alaba, Alonso, Vidal, Alcantara, Costa, Muller, Lewandowski.

Current Form

Eintracht Frankfurt kept Robert Lewandowski and Bayern
to a 0-0 draw at the weekend.
Arsenal responded well to their League Cup collapse last midweek with a stirring second half display against Swansea City, a team that has given Arsenal fits in the past few years. The Gunners have now won five straight in the league and remain behind Manchester City at the top of the table on goal difference alone, closing that gap from six goals to four with their 3-0 win. They'll face an in-form Tottenham side on Sunday (Spurs have not lost in the league since the opening match of the season) and would obviously like to keep their confidence flying high with a result in Germany.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich will be out for a measure of revenge; their matchday three loss at the Emirates was the club's first regulation loss of the season (they had also lost the German Super Cup on penalties.) Bayern responded with a league win over Cologne and a cup win over Wolfsburg, but then drew at 11th place Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend, their first dropped points in the Bundesliga this season. Their top-of-the-table lead over Borussia Dortmund is now just a paltry five points.

Match Facts

High fives for everyone as Dad Wenger looks on.
Arsenal won an incredible reverse fixture, 2-0, on matchday 3 to give them a lifeline in Group F. As you would expect, Bayern controlled possession for 73% of the time, but generated six shots on target to Arsenal's eight. Olivier Giroud capitalized on a rare Manuel Neuer mistake from a set-piece to put the Gunners ahead on 77 minutes, while Mesut Ozil added another after a brilliant interception from the speedy Hector Bellerin just seconds from time.

The Gunners have a decent record of getting results at the Allianz, despite the fact that both recent results there have not been enough to overcome the disastrous home first legs of those Round of 16 encounters. In 2013, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny scored in a 2-0 Arsenal win, though Arsenal went out of the competition 3-3 on away goals, having lost 3-1 at the Emirates. In 2014, Arsenal nabbed a 1-1 draw, with Lukasz Fabianski saving a late penalty. Arsenal, however, had lost the first leg 2-0 that year and went out 3-1 on aggregate.

In four previous sets of encounters (three Round of 16 meetings and a second group stage set in 2000/01), Bayern have always beaten Arsenal at least once over the two meetings.

The Referee

Italians are known for hand gestures, right?
The match officials are from Italy; the referee is Gianluca Rocchi. Arsenal have seen Rocchi three times previously, including once on German soil. That match was the 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund, in which the German side equalized late, in the 2011 group stage. Arsenal won both other matches with Rocchi in the middle, both against Turkish opposition: 3-0 at Fenerbahce in the 2013 qualifying playoff and 4-1 over Galatasaray at the Emirates in last year's group stage.

Bayern Munich have had Rocchi only once previously, for a 3-0 win over CSKA Moscow in the 2013 group stage.

Rocchi has served as a referee at the 2012 Summer Olympics, in which he worked the semi-final between Mexico and Japan, and the 2013 Under-17 World Cup, where he also worked a semi-final that Mexico won.

Around Europe
  • Tuesday: Real Madrid 1 - 0 Paris St. Germain
  • Tuesday: Shakhtar Donetsk 4 - 0 Malmo
  • Tuesday: Manchester United 1 - 0 CSKA Moscow
  • Tuesday: PSV Eindhoven 2 - 0 Wolfsburg
  • Tuesday: Benfica 2 - 1 Galatasaray
  • Tuesday: Astana 0 - 0 Atletico Madrid
  • Tuesday: Borussia Monchengladbach 1 - 1 Juventus
  • Tuesday: Sevilla 1 - 3 Manchester City
  • Wednesday: Barcelona v. BATE Borisov; Camp Nou, Barcelona
  • Wednesday: Roma v. Bayer Leverkusen; Stadio Olimpico, Rome
  • Wednesday: Olympiacos v. Dinamo Zagreb; Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus
  • Wednesday: Chelsea v. Dynamo Kiev; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Wednesday: Maccabi Tel Aviv v. Porto; Sammy Ofer Stadium, Haifa
  • Wednesday: Gent v. Valencia; Ghelamco Arena, Ghent
  • Wednesday: Lyon v. Zenit St. Petersburg; Stade de Gerland, Lyon
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and man for all seasons. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat in winter, spring, summer, and fall.