Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Bayern Munich, Champions League Round of 16, Second Leg

Emirates Stadium, London
Tuesday, March 7
2:45 p.m. EST, 19:45 BST

  • Match Officials from Greece
    • Referee: Tasos Sidiropoulos
    • Assistants: Damianos Efthimiadis and Polychronis Kostaras
    • 4th Official: Lazaros Dimitriadis
    • Additional Assistants: Charalambos Kalogeropoulos and Alexandros Aretopoulos
  • First Leg: Bayern 5 - 1 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 3 Arsenal wins, 6 Bayern wins, 2 draws
  • Arsenal's European Form: W-W-W-D-W-L
  • Bayern's European Form: L-W-W-L-W-W
And so, we stare into the abyss. Usually, at the annual point where our season goes to shit, it's possible to look on the bright side of things and find some humor in the absurdity. This time around, however, it honestly feels like we've all snapped a little bit.

Arsenal are fifth in the Premier League now with more than just one foot out of Europe. There's an FA Cup quarterfinal against a Conference side on the horizon, but the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham, and both Manchester clubs remain in the bracket at well.

So, where do we go from here? I don't know... candy store?

Arsenal Team News

Out: Özil (illness,) Elneny (ankle,) Cazorla (Achilles)

If there are any positives to be taken right now, it's that there's not a lot to talk about in terms of team news. Mesut Özil will not take part tonight, as he has had only one training session after missing most of last week through illness; he should be available at the weekend for the FA Cup tie.

The elephant in the room is, of course, the Alexis Sánchez situation. Arsène Wenger called the reports of a training ground bust-up "completely false," despite Alexis taking to Instagram to say that the fight was borne out of a desire to do well for the team and not any malice towards any individual. So, yeah, Wenger's peddling some fake news, I guess.

The big question is what kind of team you field for a home leg of a two-legged tie where you're already down four goals. Since Arsenal's only real shot at silverware looks to be the FA Cup again, yet their Premier League standing is also seriously precarious with regards to Champions League qualification, this seems like the kind of match where you blood some younger talent... then get criticized roundly for that. Personally, I'd rather Arsenal field a stronger line-up against Lincoln City than Bayern Munich, but that idea might not fly.

Predicted XI: Ospina, Bellerín, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Alexis, Giroud.

Bayern Team News

Out: None
Doubts: Sanches (knock,) Costa (knock,) Boateng (pectoral)
Suspended: Lahm (one match, accumulation)

Well, they don't have Phillip Lahm! That's... something! The only problem is, there's very little injury news elsewhere in the squad. Jérôme Boateng has not played since injuring a pectoral muscle in training back in December, though he is close to a return. Javí Martinez should continue to be paired with Mats Hummels in the center of defense.

Lahm's suspension means that Rafinha should start at right back, likely preferred over Joshua Kimmich, however the latter might start farther up the pitch, since Douglas Costa is carrying a knock. Costa was removed on 52 minutes from Bayern's 3-0 win over Cologne at the weekend. Renato Sanches is also a doubt; he has not played since Bayern's 8-0 win Hamburg on February 25.

Predicted XI: Neuer, Rafinha, Martinez, Hummels, Bernat, Alonso, Alcántara, Kimmich, Müller, Robben, Lewandowski.

Current Form

Arsenal's form is bad. Bayern's form is good. Any questions?

Okay, fine, I'll elaborate. On December 10, Arsenal beat Stoke City 3-1 at the Emirates. They had not lost a fixture, aside from a League Cup tie to Southampton, since the opening day of the season. The Gunners were second in the table, just three points back of a Chelsea side that had not lost since September (at the Emirates...)

Since December 10? 15 matches, six losses, a draw, and only five league wins. Now fifth in the table, 16 points back of Chelsea at the top of the table, six points back of second place Spurs with a game in hand. The ship needs to be righted now.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich lost two straight towards the end of November and have not lost since: 16 matches, 14 wins, two draws. They did need a 96th minute penalty against Hertha Berlin to salvage a point back on February 18, but that's the closest they've gone to losing in months. They are seven points clear of Leipzig at the top of the Bundesliga table.

Match Facts

Only three teams in European history have ever overturned a four-goal first leg deficit to win a two-legged tie; none of the those instances occurred in the European Cup or Champions League. The most recent team to do it was Real Madrid in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup, who lost 5-1 in Germany to Borussia Mönchengladbach before winning the return leg 4-0. They left it a bit late, scoring the fourth in the 88th minute to go through on away goals.

The year before that, FK Partizan lost the first leg of a UEFA Cup tie to Queens Park Rangers 6-2, in a match that was played at Highbury according to UEFA's website. Back in Yugoslavia for the second leg, Partizan won 4-0 to go through on away goals. Partizan had their fourth on that night in the 63rd minute, meaning there was still plenty of time for both sides to find an aggregate winner.

The very first instance of a four-goal deficit being overturned in European competition came in the preliminary round of the 1961/62 Cup Winners' Cup, when Portuguese side Leixões overcame a 6-2 first-leg loss to Swiss side La Chaux-de-Fonds, winning the home leg 5-0 to claim the tie 7-6 on aggregate.

The biggest deficit overcome in the Champions League era, as you might know from all of the times Arsenal have trailed heavily after the first leg, is three goals. RC Deportivo La Coruña had lost 4-1 at AC Milan in the 2004 quarterfinals before winning 4-0 at home.

The Referee

The match officials are from Greece; the referee is Anastasios "Tasos" Sidiropoulos, which in Greek is Αναστάσιος Σιδηρόπουλος. This will be Σιδηρόπουλος's first match for both clubs.

Σιδηρόπουλος has worked 11 previous Champions League matches, including Manchester City's home loss to CSKA Moscow in 2014, Leicester's 3-0 win in Bruges earlier this season, and Borussia Mönchengladbach's 2-0 win at Celtic earlier this year as well.

The only other matches he's ever worked involving English or German sides were Tottenham's 1-0 Europa League group stage win over Qarabağ in Azerbaijan in 2015 and the German under-21's 5-0 loss to Portugal in the semi-finals of the 2015 Under-21 Euros; Bayern's Joshua Kimmich is the only player between these two clubs who was involved in that match.

Around Europe
  • Tuesday: Napoli v. Real Madrid; Stadio San Paolo, Naples
    • Real Madrid lead 3-1
  • Wednesday: Barcelona v. Paris Saint-Germain; Camp Nou, Barcelona
    • PSG lead 4-0
  • Wednesday: Borussia Dortmund v. Benfica; Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
    • Benfica lead 1-0
  • Next Tuesday: Leicester City v. Sevilla; King Power Stadium, Leicester
    • Sevilla lead 2-1
  • Next Tuesday: Juventus v. Porto; Juventus Stadium, Turin
    • Juventus lead 2-0
  • Next Wednesday: Atlético Madrid v. Bayer Leverkusen; Vicente Calderón Stadium, Madrid
    • Atlético Madrid lead 4-2
  • Next Wednesday: Monaco v. Manchester City; Stade Louis II, Monaco
    • Manchester City lead 5-3
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and is so very tired. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat to hit the snooze button for him.