Arsenal face Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday night.
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One of the most encouraging aspects of Arsenal's FA Cup quarter-final victory against Everton was the performance of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Not only was the 20-year-old a constant danger going forward, but when he lost possession he quickly won the ball back.
That sort of application will be essential in Munich, but it is his attacking qualities that will be crucial. With the Gunners trailing 2-0 from the first leg, they must try to push Bayern on to the back foot as early as possible - and this is where the direct running and pace of Oxlade-Chamberlain will be important.
Against Everton, the England international was nominally playing on the right flank but, as our heatmap above shows, he spent a large part of the game cutting inside and running directly at the two centre backs, John Stones and Sylvain Distin. As our chalkboard indicates, he also played one key pass (yellow square) to lead to a goalscoring chance from this inside-right channel and played a high proportion of successful passes (green square) from the same area.
Oxlade-Chamberlain's willingness to shoot on sight could also prove useful as Arsenal chase goals in Munich. Against Everton, he had three shots (green circles) - all of which were on target - and had one effort blocked. So not only does he possess a powerful shot, but he is accurate too. He has previously spoken of his desire to add more goals to his game, and with three to his name since his return from a knee injury it is clear that the Ox is making strides in this area.
If Arsenal are to stand a chance of beating Bayern on Tuesday night, they will need a combination of grit, balance, luck and desire. But with an in-form Oxlade-Chamberlain in the starting line-up, they could spring another shock.
With the injured Theo Walcott ruled out for the rest of the season, the task of pinning David Alaba back in his own half will fall on Oxlade-Chamberlain's shoulders. The 20-year-old may not quite possess the raw pace of his team-mate, but he has enough to give the Bayern left back plenty to think about.
Alaba loves to get forward and offer an attacking outlet on the left flank but, with the Gunners expected to play a swift counter-attacking game, this could provide time and space for Oxlade-Chamberlain to thrive. The Bayern defender is a real threat on the front foot, but one possible area to exploit is in the air, where he has only won 46.2 per cent of his duels in the Champions League.
But in truth, Oxlade-Chamberlain's strengths lie with the ball at his feet or running in behind, and this is where he must look to exploit any uncertainty in the hosts' defence. Alaba struggled at times against Walcott in this fixture last season - particularly for the first goal when the England international set up Olivier Giroud - and it is up to Oxlade-Chamberlain to give a similarly thorough examination of his defensive game.
BAYERN MUNICH v ARSENAL - MATCH FACTS
- This is the third time that Arsenal and Bayern Munich are meeting in the last 16 of the Champions League. The Bavarian club have progressed both times previously (2004/05 and 2012/13)
- Bayern Munich have reached the final of the Champions League in three of the last four seasons. They are the defending champions after last season’s win against Dortmund
- Bayern Munich have won 11 of their last 12 Champions League games (L1)
- The last three Champions League games that Bayern Munich have failed to win at the Allianz Arena have all been against English clubs : 1-1 after extra-time against Chelsea in May 2012, 0-2 v Arsenal in March 2013 and 2-3 v Manchester City in December 2013
- Bayern Munich have won their last six Champions League games in the knockout stages (15 goals for, 1 against)
- Bayern Munich have had the most shots on target in the Champions League this season: 59 (which is 36 more than Arsenal with 23)
- Arsenal have won by at least two clear goals away from home in the knockout stages of the Champions League on only two occasions: against AC Milan in March 2008 (2-0) and Bayern Munich in March 2013 (2-0)
- Arsenal have only kept three clean sheets in their last 27 away games in the Champions League, but the last two shut-outs have been in Germany (v Bayern Munich in March 2013 and Borussia Dortmund in November 2013)
- Arsenal have scored eight goals in the Champions League this season, all from open play and inside the box. However, they have failed to score in their last two Champions League games - the Gunners have never gone three straight games without a goal in the competition
- Arjen Robben has scored five goals and delivered five assists in his last 10 Champions League games at the Allianz Arena
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