It’s the big one today and potentially a season-defining one, although I really wish that it wasn’t, because I do worry what might happen if we go out tonight. That’s a very real possibility, because:

  1. We do not have an amazing pedigree in Europe.
  2. We have a pretty pants record against Bayern.
  3. We’ve just come off a disappointing defeat at the weekend – what psychological damage has been done?
  4. We looked fatigued at the weekend – is that going to have a knock-on effect on us today?
  5. Suddenly we’ve started conceding some sloppy goals.

Apologies, if you read my ramblings yesterday then you’ll be aware that my Arsenal PTSD has crept in and at this crucial time of April, I fear what will happen in subsequent games and any lingering hopes of a first Premier League title in 20 years. I also fear the damage of being knocked out and now trailing to the machine that is Man City in the League; it might all feel like April 2023 if we get beat and beaten resound tonight.

But despite that initial volley of perceived negativity for today’s blog, I am still holding on to the hope that exactly the opposite could be true. So here’s some reason’s to be cheerful:

  1. A win tonight could be a massive boost to the morale and kick-start this team on another long winning run.
  2. Fatigue can be cast aside – I remember Paul Merson saying that you don’t feel tired when you’re winning games. You are just desperate for the next one.
  3. We were the better team at The Emirates and should have beaten Bayern.
  4. We’ve gone away to Liverpool and City – both teams who I think are better than Bayern, and remained strong and resolute.
  5. This is not the Bayern team of old and they do give up chances.

Yes, they are experienced and yes, we showed some naivety in the last game, but why can’t we flip that on its head and show Bayern our true face tonight? I am hoping amongst hope that we can. I’m praying that we can. We want to go deep in this competition and beating a European giant like Bayern would put us on the map I reckon. It will make Europe take up and notice and although I suspect even a victory tonight means we won’t be leaving England for the semi finals, we will still have shown the capability of this (still) young Arsenal squad.

Arteta’s challenge for this evening is working out what he should do tactically and with his selection choices. I suspect the absence of Jorginho means we’ll see him this evening at the base of our midfield, with Rice pushed forward in to the left eight and Havertz up top. It’s the team that worked prior to the Bayern home game and it’s the team that had been on such a great run, so I think that’ll be how he’ll look to go. The other questions are how closely to that winning team does Arteta keep it? Does he opt for Kiwior at left back? Somehow I doubt it. I wonder whether he’ll be choosing Tomiyasu to make a start because he’s been back in training for a while and I think he offers the best defensive solidity to our team. Tuchel may have been playing some mind games in talking down the fitness of his players, but by the sounds of it Sane and Neuer will be fit so in our defensive left hand side we will need to see somebody who can go toe-to-toe with Sane. A fully fit Tomiyasu would make this a no brainer, but he hasn’t played much lately and so that’s where the big question remains. Can he last 60 – 70 minutes? If he can, then that would 100% be where I’d be going and I think most of us Gooners feel the same as well.

The rest of the team will have a familiar feel about it, I suspect. It’ll be Raya in goal, White, Saliba, Gabriel, in midfield we’ve already mentioned Jorginho, Rice and hopefully Odegaard is fine enough to play. Wide right will be Saka and then we will have to work out who plays, because there are three options:

  • Martinelli
  • Trossard
  • Jesus

I think the general consensus amongst the Gooners I follow are thinking that it probably should be Gabriel Jesus, but I wonder if Arteta will go with Martinelli tonight, because I just don’t know how much Gabriel Jesus can play with his knee troubles, given he started against Villa at the weekend. Can he two big games in three days given his fitenss challenges? He looked sluggish to me on Sunday and that’s why I’m wondering if Martinelli starts, with both Gabby J and Trossard used as impact subs.

As for Munich, their fans will be super loud tonight, having not been able to be in the ground last week, so they’ll be massively up for this. But if we can get an early foothold in the game, I wonder what happens with the home support, given they have just been confirmed as runners up in the Bundesliga. It’s the first time in a decade that they’ve not won it and so it’ll be interesting to see if the home fans turn on those players. Until we get to the point of scaring them or going in front, however, I suspect it will be tense and tough for our players. They need to show the mettle that they had at Anfield and the Etihad though; they will know what a hostile atmosphere feels like and I am hoping they can deal with it.

We all know their danger men, Musiala is a fantastically gifted footballer, Kane is a cheating, diving scumbag but he will be a threat and he’ll most certainly be looking to go down in the box at some stage. And Sane’s pace was a worry for us last week and certainly terrified Kiwior. They have such amazing creative and attacking players but they will give us chances defensively, so we need to be better than we were in that first half against Villa.

I wouldn’t say I’m overly confident about tonight, because I have my own Arsenal-in-Europe baggage that stops me from getting too hopeful or excited, but I’ll be watching from behind my fingers tonight in the hope that Arteta’s men can do something special and react to the disappointment from last weekend.

Catch you all tomorrow for a debrief.