Buidling Dreams Together


Four reasons why Arsenal can go through FC Bayern Munich.

Yesterday’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw in Nyon generated another exciting pairing. It did not take long after the start of the draw when the first two teams that John Obi Mikel pulled out of the bowl were Arsenal and FC Bayern Munich. Arsenal fans quickly remembered the last Champions League reunion between those two teams when Bayern trashed Arsenal 10-2 across both legs in the round of 16 clash in the 2016/17 season. A lot has changed since those games, especially in North London. Let me explain why I think Arsenal is slightly in favour this time and what advantages Mikel Arteta’s side has over the current Bundesliga champions.

John Obi Mikel during Friday’s Champions League draw. (Source: DailyMail)


After two losses at the end of 2023 and an exit in the second round of the FA Cup, everyone thought the Gunners were out of the title race. However, a miraculous trip to Dubai during the 13-day winter break in January transformed this team into winning machines. Arsenal has won eight consecutive Premier League games since that trip, for the first time since Arteta’s arrival, with a remarkable score of 33:4. In the meantime, Bayern lost three Bundesliga matches, including a 3-0 defeat against current leader Bayer Leverkusen. After two Bundesliga losses in a row and the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League, Bayern released a statement saying that Thomas Tuchel will be leaving the club at the end of the season. Some experts say that this is their last chance of winning a trophy, especially because of their 10-point gap in the Bundesliga. Nevertheless, the contrast in form between those two teams has been huge recently, and it puts Arsenal in a better position before the first leg. The Gunners have been spectacular on the pitch, as their performances have improved compared to the first part of the season. Specifically, the period from March to May was a major issue last year, when they started to crumble and lose points in the Premier League title race. Purely because of last year’s failure, they learned from their mistakes and look more experienced now. Arsenal is playing their best football at the right time of the season with a full squad available, which makes them favourites for this quarter-final in my opinion.

Bayern players after loss against Bayer Leverkusen. (Source: Bayern Strikes)
Quality of both teams

When you look at the starting line-ups from the 2016/17 game, the difference in quality in both squads is abysmal. Arsenal has undergone a complete rebuild since 2019, when Arteta came. Mohammed Elneny is the only Arsenal player who is still in the squad and was in 2017 as well. Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich, and Kingsley Coman are players who appeared in the 2017 win and are still part of Bayern’s squad. During those four years, Arteta has built a squad full of enormous potential, fighting for trophies, and instilled his philosophy into all the players. He decided to build the squad around young talented players with the highest level of experience. The latest acquisitions, Declan Rice & Kai Havertz, perfectly fit into the team and raised not only the quality on the pitch but also team goals, as they are holders of European silverware. Arsenal have one of the most effective pressings and set pieces in the world right now, while Bayern’s attack led by Harry Kane is the most goalscoring in the TOP5 leagues this season. Although Arsenal showed how compact their defence is with the core of William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhães, and Declan Rice, Arsenal’s tactical game plan worked against best teams in the Premier League this season, which is why I believe that the team’s chemistry and quality in each position will be in favour of Arsenal.

Arsenal starting lineup against FC Porto. (Source: PDChinaSports)
Tactical battle

Thomas Tuchel’s Champions League pedigree is impressive compared to Arteta, as he has already won the Champions League before and got his team to a Champions League final. Tuchel is known as a very experienced coach in knockout stages, which he proved at Chelsea when he took them into five cup finals in his 17-month stint at Stamford Bridge. German is still considered as one of the best strategists in football thanks to his precise and compact system with three defenders at the back. Despite his inconsistency in the league, Tuchel’s record in cup competitions is honourable. Regardless of Arteta’s record against Tuchel, I think he has demonstrated his tactical skills against Pep Guardiola, Jürgen Klopp, or Roberto De Zerbi, who are currently labelled as tactical geniuses. Arteta is a perfectionist who demands high standards from every player in every game and always tries to surprise the opposition with an unexpected set-piece signal or game plan. Mostly, his adaptability to different styles of opponents is what makes him tactically mature. Arteta is often nicknamed ‘Guardiola’s student’, which corresponds with my argument about his great tactical development over the last few years. Particularly, the last two seasons put Arteta on the pedestal with the best managers right now. Thanks to his eye for detail, tactical awareness, philosophy, and variability, I would say Arteta excels over Tuchel at the moment.

Thomas Tuchel with Mikel Arteta before the match between Arsenal and Chelsea. (Source: Arsenal Insider)

Those who have seen Arsenal’s documentary All or Nothing on Prime Video certainly know how Arsenal’s manager likes to use previous losses as an example to motivate his players. In one of the episodes, Arteta chose Ivan Toney’s tweet about Arsenal and read it out loud in front of the whole team during his pre-match talk in the dressing room. Arsenal later dominated on the pitch and won the game 2-1. Unfortunately, we will not see Arteta’s team talk now, but I am sure he will use their last meeting with the Bavarians as motivation for players in some way. Bayern comfortably won 10-2 over both legs in 2017, and when I look at the highlights from the game, it seems like Arsenal players gave up and completely resigned after the first two or three goals. Arteta, who requires passion and team spirit in every single game, will definitely influence every player to fight for the badge and revenge. Straight after the draw, many journalists confirmed that Bayern Munich fans are banned from attending the away leg against Arsenal after their supporters threw fireworks onto the pitch during their game against SS Lazio earlier this month. Arteta already sent a message to fans before the second leg against FC Porto when he urged the fans to ‘bring the noise’ at the Emirates. Now, when the whole stadium will be full of Arsenal supporters, I am confident that it will help home players more than ever.

Arteta’s viral clip from All or Nothing:Arsenal series.

These four points are just my subjective views about the upcoming quarter-final between Arsenal and Bayern Munich. Regrettably, the wait will be a bit longer due to the international break, so fans from both teams hope players will come back in the same form as they left with no injuries. The first leg will take place at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, April 9, at 8pm BST, with the return fixture occurring a week later at Alianz Arena on Wednesday, April 17, at 8pm BST as well. Everyone, including me, is expecting a goal fest and good football from both sides, accompanied by a loud crowd from the stands.

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