Bayern Munich v Arsenal preview: David Ospina to start for Gunners
Last Updated: 15/02/17 7:54pm
Arsene Wenger has confirmed he will stick with goalkeeper David Ospina for Arsenal's Champions League round-of-16 first-leg clash away to Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
The Colombian featured in all six group matches earlier in the season and Wenger is sticking with the 28-year-old ahead of Petr Cech.
Mesut Ozil's place in Arsenal's starting line-up has also been in question as he travels to the Allianz Arena with the rest of Arsenal's squad on the back of Wenger questioning his confidence after Saturday's 2-0 win over Hull.
The 28-year-old has not scored for the Gunners since December 10 and has been accused of being on the periphery of games in recent weeks. That led to Wenger claiming he was suffering with his self-belief and reports that Ozil could be dropped for the round-of-16 tie.
However, Bayern defender Mats Hummels, who is a team-mate of Ozil's with Germany, expects his compatriot to start, even if he hopes Arsenal's club-record signing endures a poor evening.
"For me, it was a surprise that Mesut is doubtful to play," said the Bayern defender. "He is a world-class player and someone who is always put on the field. I think he will be on the pitch tomorrow from the first minute because he is a class player."
Bayern can count on Xabi Alonso after the Spanish midfielder recovered from a knock to the knee that had forced him out of training on Monday.
But Carlo Ancelotti seems set to be without central defender Jerome Boateng and winger Franck Ribery, both of whom trained alone in the run-up to the game following recent injuries of their own.
Lucas Perez (hamstring) has not travelled as he joins Aaron Ramsey (calf) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) on the Arsenal sidelines.
Granit Xhaka, who has been suspended domestically, returns to the squad, as does fit again defender Per Mertesacker.
Bayern Munich have eliminated Arsenal in their three previous Champions League knockout encounters, all in the last 16 (2004/05, 2012/13, 2013/14).
This is the first time Bayern Munich have not topped their Champions League group since 2009/10. They nevertheless reached the final later that season (0-2 v Inter Milan).
Arsenal have won their Champions League group for the first time since 2011/12. It's also the first time since 2005/06 - when they reached the final - that they remained unbeaten in a group campaign.
Arsenal have been knocked out in the round of 16 in each of the last six seasons (twice v Bayern Munich) while the Bavarians have reached the semis in the last 5 campaigns.
Bayern Munich have won their last 15 home Champions League games (53 goals scored, 8 conceded) - the longest winning run in the history of the competition. Real Madrid are the last team to beat them at the Allianz Arena, in April 2014 (0-4).
Arsenal have been defeated in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie in each of the last five seasons.
Robert Lewandowski has scored 14 goals in his last 12 Champions League games at the Allianz Arena. The only time he failed to find the net in those 12 games was against Benfica last April.
Ox unfazed by Bayern challenge
Arsenal shouldn't fear German champions, says winger Oxlade-Chamberlain...
Olivier Giroud has scored in three of his last four Champions League games against Bayern Munich, including in two of his last three away against them.
The only previous Champions League encounter between Carlo Ancelotti and Arsene Wenger was in the 2007/08 Champions League round of 16. Wenger's Arsenal saw off Ancelotti's AC Milan 2-0 on aggregate.
Arsenal are obviously not firing on all cylinders heading into this game, but neither side are as good as they used to be.
Bayern have not clicked this season. Their star men have struggled to deliver to their usual high standards, although they obviously still posses a lot of quality.
Arsenal are a better counter-attacking team these days so not having too much of the ball isn't a major concern, but Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, as much as I think of them, just don't deliver enough in the big games.
Mohamed Elneny will come back in and unfortunately Francis Coquelin will be in there. I say unfortunately because even though he's got that graft the team are lacking, he also has a red card in him. Then I'd like to see Granit Xhaka in there to make up three in that middle area to protect the defence.
Arsene Wenger will go with Sanchez up front and I'd play Theo Walcott and leave Alex Iwobi out as I think Theo is more of a goal threat on the counter-attack.
If they get this system right then I think Arsenal can walk away with a 1-1 draw, but I fear Laurent Koscielny will get exposed by Robert Lewandowski.
Arsenal are up against odds of 5/1 with Sky Bet to establish a first-leg lead, with Bayern Munich just 1/2 while the draw is priced at 100/30. As group winners, the Gunners were handed the toughest possible draw on paper as Bayern are considered 4/1 second favourites to lift the trophy, prompting their price to drift out to 25/1. Robert Lewandowski heads the first goalscorer betting at 5/2 and is enhanced from 2/1 to 4/1 to bag a brace in Sky Bet's Price Boosts, while Alexis Sanchez is considered the visitors' biggest threat at 7/1 to net first.
Follow Bayern v Arsenal with our live blog on skysports.com and the Sky Sports apps.