High time for Arsenal to show some character as they prepare for Munich showdown

While Bayern Munich may not be the same team that dominated German football under Pep Guardiola, they are still comfortably the best team in the Bundesliga and favourites to overcome Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Much has been made of the change in style at Bayern since Carlo Ancelotti arrived to replace the Manchester City-bound Guardiola in the summer, with the German champions lacking the sort of attacking verve that made them unstoppable under the Spaniard.

The fact remains, though, that Bayern are seven points clear of their nearest challenges, RB Leipzig, in the league, having lost just once in 20 matches. They have also out-scored everybody else in the league – netting 45 times – and have been more frugal in defence, with just 12 goals conceded.

Make no mistake, for Arsenal to best Bayern over two legs is going to be a tall order, whether the German’s are firing on all cylinders are not.

The danger posed by the likes of Robert Lewandowski remains as acute as ever, while Arjen Robben – the omni-present pantomime villain – continues to be the infuriatingly reliable performer he has been for what seems like a millennia.

Meanwhile, in Manuel Neuer, Javi Martinez and Mats Hummels, Bayern have as reliable a defensive trio as you are likely to find in world football.

What hope do the Gunners have, then, of coming away from Germany with a decent result, against the team that knocked them out of the competition at the exact same stage in 2013 and 2014?

The good news is, if they play well and fight hard, I believe they have every chance.

By all accounts, the Bayern attack has relied a little too heavily on the goals of Lewandowski this season, with Thomas Muller having struggled to adapt to life under Ancelotti, who favours a more direct style of play to Guardiola.

It has been possible, therefore, to stifle the Bayern attack by pressing hard and marking tight. Munich also lack the sort of pace in attack they have done in seasons past, meaning they are unlikely to dazzle Koscielney and Co with quick breakaways.

Arsene Wenger and his staff will have studied the tapes carefully and they will know that solidity and intensity in defence is going to be key if Arsenal are to give themselves a chance.

The Frenchman also knows that his side must recapture the sort of concentration and cohesion at the back and in midfield that has been missing for a good long while. Our propensity to give away goals will cost us dearly at this level of competition.

Whether that means sacrificing some of our attacking intent in order to add a little protection in front of the defence is a call for the manager, but a change must be made to avoid the sort of dominance that was ceded to Chelsea in the 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Getting a good result – be that a win, a draw, or a scoring defeat – is going to be incredibly difficult but it is certainly not impossible, and this is not a tie that should fill the squad with awe.

This Bayern side is hugely experienced but does it have the legs to cope with the pace of Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, and Lucas Perez? I certainly hope not.

More than anything else, Arsenal must ensure they give themselves a chance. Too often we’ve been out of the tie before the second leg has even begun in the recent past and we cannot afford to make the same mistakes again.

Two or three-goal cushions for the opposing team are simply not acceptable and the Gunners must strike the right balance between being ambitious and being streetwise. Let’s get them back to the Emirates with everything to play for and, who knows, we may even make it to that mythical round that exists beyond the last 16. A quarter final is it?

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