Football Features

Arsenal’s blueprint to beat Bayern Munich and reach Champions League semi-finals

By Will Evans | Twenty3

Published: 14:28, 15 April 2024

Arsenal’s defeat to Aston Villa has dampened title expectations in north London — but European glory remains a distinct possibility.

The Gunners’ quarter-final tie with Bayern Munich is firmly in the balance, after last week’s 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium.

History suggests a tough task lies ahead, though, with Arsenal failing to beat Bayern away from home in six attempts.

So, how can Mikel Arteta’s side put that record to bed in Munich?

Hit Bayern on the counter

Bayern rarely set up to counter-attack domestically, but wisely opted for a more cautious approach at the Emirates.

However, Thomas Tuchel’s team are unlikely to allow Arsenal the 59.2% possession they enjoyed last Tuesday on home soil.

That could provide the Gunners with an opportunity to break at pace — utilising the speed of their attackers against Bayern’s often-shaky defence.

Only Tottenham (154) have registered more direct attacks than Arsenal (146) in the Premier League this season, so they are not afraid to progress the ball forward at speed when required.

Seek out Saka

Bukayo Saka impressed in the first leg against Bayern and is likely to be pivotal once again.

No player has registered more Champions League assists this term (four), while he has also struck four times in the competition — including last week’s sumptuous opener.

With five cross attempts and 15 completed passes into the final third, Saka was a constant thorn in FCB’s side at the Emirates.

And that reflected his wider performances this season, having amassed an eye-catching total of 30 goal contributions.

Arteta would be wise to funnel Arsenal’s attacking play through his No.7 on Wednesday.

Stay switched on

Arsenal’s defensive record in the Premier League is exemplary.

They have conceded just 26 goals and amassed 14 clean sheets, with an xGA of 22.56 — leading the way for all three metrics.

But the Gunners’ back line looked uncharacteristically uncertain against Bayern, before enduring a similarly challenging afternoon in Sunday’s clash with Aston Villa.

Arsenal’s body of work across the campaign suggests this is more of a blip than any kind of trend, but they urgently need to regain their defensive composure.

Maintaining a rock-solid rearguard against the likes of Harry Kane and Jamal Musiala will be a key ingredient, if Arteta’s outfit are to make it through to the Champions League semi-finals.