Is there hope for Arsenal in the Champions League?

Is there hope for Arsenal in the Champions League?

It's been six years of hurt for the Gunners in Europe. Could 2017 be their year at last?

dylan_walsh
Dylan Walsh

Qualify for Europe, scrape through the group stage, and get knocked out by Bayern Munich or Barcelona in the round of 16, repeat.

Arsenal and the Champions League have had a complicated relationship over the past few years. It seems hard to think that Arsenal once made the Champions League final over ten years ago and almost won it had it not been from two late goals.

It also seems hard to remember that Arsenal also made it to the semi-finals of the same tournament three years later, but being completely out-played by eventual winners Manchester United.

Same old Arsenal

However, since 2010 the Gunners are yet to make it through the round of 16, and with Arsenal facing off against Bayern Munich for the third time in this phase of the competition during this time period, it’s safe to say Arsenal are looking towards the exit door again.

The Gunners have only beaten the Bavarian club twice since the turn of the decade, both ending up to be pretty meaningless results, and the last time Arsenal travelled to Munich the North London club were demolished 5-1 by the Bundesliga champions.

Not-so dominate Bayern

However things are different this year. Bayern have been off the pace slightly this season, slightly being they’re only leading the Bundesliga table by seven points, and the performances from the reigning champions have been below par in the 2016/17 season.

Thomas Muller has under-performed this season, scoring just four goals in all competitions this season, and several other squad players, such as Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa, have been far from their best this season. Bayern will also be without Jerome Boateng and Franck Ribery, who are both out with injuries.

So can Arsenal realistically do something in the Champions League this season with this Bayern Munich side being the weakest the Gunners will face off against?

Learning from the past

History has a funny way of repeating itself, and only by analysing on the mistakes of the past can one better himself for future events, which is why Arsenal will likely crash and burn once again this year in this stage of the tournament.

One of Arsene Wenger’s biggest flaws as a manager is his stubbornness towards his squad selection. You know you’re going to get a 4-2-3-1, you know you’re going to see limited rotation, and you the Frenchman will only make changes 10 minutes before the end of the 90 minutes.

Look at the squad that played against Hull City on Saturday, now swap out Petr Cech for David Ospina, and that’ll likely be the starting XI to play at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night.

Wenger also has a knack of not changing the game plan against tough opposition. Take Arsenal’s record against Chelsea, specifically at Stamford Bridge, Since Roman Abramovich’s takeover of the west London club in the summer of 2003, Arsenal have only won just twice at the Bridge, and losing nine.

After maybe the fourth of fifth loss at a certain ground against a certain team, you may think ‘let’s change the game plan and tackle this fixture differently’, but not to Wenger. A game at Stamford Bridge is essentially a guaranteed L for the table, and this stubbornness has seen itself transfer into Champions League fixtures.

Sixth time's a charm?

Although the quality is much greater in the Champions League, Arsenal have been in the competition long enough to know that they will be facing off teams of certain quality and reputation, and the North London side to be well prepared to take on any team in this competition. Need I remind you about Monaco?

Will Wenger adapt to Bayern this season and see his club progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since the 2009/10 season, or will the Gunners take their annual stop-off at the round of 16?

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