Arsenal, Bayern Munich

Arsenal will be ready to face Bayern Munich at the Emirates stadium on Wednesday night after effectively erasing the 5-1 loss away to Liverpool at Anfield by knocking them out of the FA Cup on Sunday with a 2-1 win in north London.

So now with a run in the FA Cup still on and a solid standing in the Premiership the Gunners can focus everything on their last 16 first-leg Champions League clash with last season’s winner’s Bayern Munich.

Last season when Arsenal played the German giants at home they suffered what many considered a devastating 3-1 loss in the first leg tie at the Emirates, but can take solace in their performance in the second-leg at the Allianz Arena where they shocked Bayern with a 0-2 win allowing the Bavarian’s to move on only due to the away goal rule.

Many fans are crediting that win with Arsenal’s strong finish last season that allowed them to finish fourth just one point ahead of rivals Tottenham, and establish a foundation to build on for this season’s success.

Theo Walcott who is currently out injured recovering from knee surgery is in no doubt about the effect the match had saying: “We’ve learnt from so much experience we’ve had in the last year,” he said.

“Ever since that Bayern Munich result, really, it’s changed the whole club.”

The Gunners win percentage before the match in Munich stood at just 47%, but following that win adding in the 2-1 victory on Sunday the win percentage is now close to 70%.

The win over Bayern away will also be fresh in the minds of the Arsenal team knowing that they could beat the Bundesliga Champions in Germany with former Tottenham manager David Pleat telling BBC Sport: “It won’t be easy for Arsenal but the fact they have beaten Bayern should certainly give them some confidence.

“I think if they have beaten Bayern before, then they must believe. Arsene always says the focus, mentality and concentration of his players is right. If it is, then he must believe those players have the mental strength to go in there and do it again, although of course the first leg is again at home and Bayern are a wonderful side.”

Pleat is a huge fan of Arsene Wenger but is worried about the Gunners firepower with just Olivier Giroud playing up front adding: “They have got enough players who are capable of passing well and keeping the ball but I’m not sure whether they have got enough thrust against top, top sides to score the vital goals.

“They haven’t really got what I would call two recognised top front men and as a consequence Arsene has to play with a semi-second striker.

“There is no problem with that, provided he is schemer in the way that I had Glenn Hoddle and Clive Allen at Spurs, and if the other people are scoring goals or the front man is scoring buckets full of goals.

“Can they score enough goals? Can they make enough positions to score those goals? I think it is difficult without Theo Walcott’s pace, particularly when he is used late on in games and teams are trying to get level with Arsenal. He is quick and exploits space.”

BBC football pundit Mark Lawrenson who was in Munich for the match last season does not put too much significance in the Arsenal victory that night saying: “They won’t be frightened of playing Bayern and of course you always remember when you go to a class side in their own stadium and win,” he said. “But I think it will be a completely different animal to the one they faced in March.

“Bayern were not bothered. Arsenal played very well on the night and got very close to getting through with the extra away goal, but even the Bayern fans just turned up for a party and Bayern didn’t play a full-strength team.

“It was a good result but I’m pretty sure within a few minutes of watching the game start I was thinking if there were any 50-50s there were not too many Bayern players winning them. Bayern then lost their way and it almost backfired on them.”

Lawrenson believes that the Bayern Munich team under new manager Pep Guardiola is even stronger than the one that knocked Barcelona out of the competition last year.

“You get the feeling they are desperate to become the first team to win back-to-back Champions Leagues,” said Lawrenson.

“They have got a new coach in Pep Guardiola who is driven by the whole thing. He wants to show he can do it at another club and silence anybody who still wants to downgrade his achievements at Barcelona by suggesting he inherited the best team in the world.

“If anything it probably strengthened their team and they have a real swagger. When I saw Bayern at Manchester City this year what impressed me so much was how hard they all worked, including Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.”

Since the last meeting between the two sides Arsenal has added Mesut Özil who should be able to show off his midfield magic against the Germans.

Lawrenson added: “Ozil’s form has tailed off in recent weeks but this is the perfect time for him to raise his game.

“No doubt the German national coach Joachim Low will be watching so it’s a showcase day for Özil.”

Arsenal face a tough task against the German’s and realize that a win at home will be vital if they want to get through to the next round.