Arsenal v. Bayern Preview: By the Numbers


Arsenal host Bayern Munich in the Champions League and a quick scan around the major betting sites shows the Bavarian team as the odds on favorites to get a result against the London side. This conforms to most of what I have read in the press, the blogosphere, and in various social media outlets; Arsenal are widely considered the underdogs.

That was my own feeling as well based on what I knew about Arsenal’s performances in the Champions League group stages where Arsenal racked up some pretty astonishingly low numbers in terms of shots, shots on goal, and goals scored. Based on both the quantitative data (mostly from, because UEFA’s numbers are weird) and the qualitative data (you know, “watching the games”) my sense was that Arsenal were very mediocre in the group stages.

We’ve also been told, extensively, about Bayern’s record in the Bundesliga and how really great they are, how they are the best defensive team to ever play football, and that they are such kind and considerate lovers they once bought a team flowers before they beat them. I think at least one of those three things is true: Bayern have only lost once in 22 League games and they have only conceded 7 goals in those matches. So, clearly, it’s the thing about them being considerate lovers.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger spoke somewhat defiantly about his team’s odds saying that “we are not favourites but I trust our quality, our spirit and our mental strength. So see you tomorrow!” It’s easy to dismiss the statements about quality, spirit, and mental strength because we’ve all heard it before but watching him say it again, with such conviction, made me doubt not him but rather whether I had all my facts straight.

So, since we are playing at home I compared Arsenal’s home record in the Premier League to Bayern’s away record in the Bundesliga and Arsenal’s home record in the Champions League to Bayern’s away record in the same competition. This is what that chart looks like:



As you can see, Bayern’s goal scoring in away matches is the best in the Bundesliga but the three goals scored in the Champions League is among the very worst. This follows because Bayern look like they have struggled getting shots off that bother the keeper getting a surprising 4 shots on goal per game.

Scoring just three and conceding four is a very strange Champions League record for Bayern I have to say, because their Bundesliga stats show utter dominance in all of the major offensive and defensive numbers where they are first or second in goals, goals allowed, shots, shots on goal, shots conceded, and possession.

Bayern’s offensive and defensive dominance flows from their possession game and on paper this looks like it’s a toss up. I wonder who will dominate the possession game? We know that it will be the team that works hardest when they don’t have the ball (tackles, interceptions and fouls) and the team that plays quick passes when they do have the ball. In essence, which team wants it more? That could be the tale of the game as both teams vie to keep the ball as much as possible.

Bayern also go more direct and wide in away games, especially in the Champions League where they are 2nd in long balls and 1st in crosses per game. They are an awfully “cross” team normally and are often forced to play a lot of balls in from wide positions. I’ve found it interesting that Arsenal have adopted some of this to their game as well. Giroud was certainly brought in for his aerial ability and Arsenal have adapted at least part of our passing game to getting balls in to the big fella.

It would be easy to pick Lukas Podolski and Franck Ribery as the two players to watch tomorrow but I’m actually going to agree with Anam in his tactics column and say that Arsenal have a bit of a secret weapon in Theo Walcott. He only made three appearances for Arsenal in the Champions League (two as a sub) but now that his contract situation is settled, I expect he will start. He has also come under some deserved criticism for his part in the goal Blackburn scored at the Emirates and I would be surprised if he didn’t give one of his trademarked inspired performances.

Regardless, based on the numbers, this looks closer than I originally thought and I could actually see Arsenal edging the Bavarians 2-1 or even 1-0. If they get off to a good start and fight for the full 90 minutes.



    • Amid the gloom and negativity, I hope to find solace with the following “trend”:

      Round of 16 match day 1: 2 games, 2 defeats for the home sides;
      Round of 16 match day 2: 2 games, improvement from the home teams, 2 draws;
      tonight, 2 games, hopefully, 2 wins for the home side …

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  1. Arsenal is the most flexible team in the world. Could be defeated by 4th tier club, yet could win against so called the best football team in the world.

    So, one-nil to the fucking Arsenal.

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  2. Yes we are the underdog, but by no means bayern is superior to us. The thing about Arsenal is we can win against any clubs, yet we can lose too. It’s always 50-50 with the Arsene’s squad isn’t it?

    But, being the underdog is cooler anyway. *playing that Rocky soundtrack as I write this*

    Come on you Gunners!!

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  3. Something tells me Wenger is going to start Walcott up front tomorrow. Could be inspired or horrendous, welcome to the Arsenal!

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  4. Boring technical question. The stats say the arsenal have scored 33 to bayerns 27 but the germans are given the glorious red highlight. Is this mistake or am i being a bit of an idiot?

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    • 33 is the goals we’ve scored at home in the Prem. 27 is the number of goals Bayern have scored in away games in the Bundesliga. It isn’t a direct comparison, well it actually isn’t even an indirect comparison.. Bayern have the most number of away goals in the Bundesliga while Arsenal have the 2nd most number of home goals in the Prem.

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  5. Theo, Oli, Santi, Pod upfront with Jack & co feeding them

    best form of defence is close your eyes & pray but a clean sheet would be priceless

    go get em lads

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  6. we expected, as did others, this team to walk past Bradford and brush aside Blackburn too. now we expect them, as do others, to fail massively against Bayern. knowing how this team doesn’t like to give us what we want, i wouldn’t gamble on the result. Up the Arsenal!

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  7. If our starting midfield and attack is not:

    Arteta — Wilshere
    Walcott —–Podolski

    we are going to get beaten badly, best lineup we have and its a lineup that can definitely inflict damage and as long as Gervinho doesn’t step onto the pitch im sure we can get a result.

    Worth taking into consideration the last two times we played B*rca at home and got a result we conceded first and that looks the trend against Bayern.

    2-1 for the Gooners ! But I can see a 2-2 result.

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  8. Lot of talk about how we are going to get bettered. Thanks 7am for giving me some hope.

    Given the current trend of the Arse this season…I can say that this is gonna be a stroll in the park.

    4-1 to the Arse.

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  9. This time tomorrow morning we’ll all be focused on one thing; are we going to finally spend proper money on top players in the transfer window and clear out the dead wood or will we be condemned to another season of inevitable second tier mediocrity? Before the clock strikes 10.00pm we’ll be as good as out of the Champions League.

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  10. I’d love to see Jack (or any gooner for that matter) leave Robben screaming on the floor after a crunching tackle

    CANT STAND the orrible little Shearer mini me

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    • Wilshere red would be the last thing we want to see. But I do empathize, and would also enjoy at least what little schadenfreude to be had in that moment, or, fully cheer if there would be no sending off.

      More than anything, I want to see Poldi mid, Walcott right, and just see them destroy the box…

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      • I never said anything about a red card – that would be a disaster

        just a full blooded fair tackle – the type that makes your eyes water 1 where Jack gets up laughing, wheras Robben writhes around screaming

        I’d be happy with an inadvertent knee from Woji catching a cross whilst connecting with Robben in mid flight too – just the thought of either makes me smile

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  11. Feels kinda good knowing that people still believe in the arsenal team and also support ’em even when it seems like the “odds” are agianst ’em. I’m a real arsenal fc fan, and in my opinion: we are gunner GUN Bavarians down!!!

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  12. From the numbers, it would seem that when Bayern confront a European grade massed defence, they go a bit desperate-Arsenal-ish and just aimlessly fire balls into the box. So given that we’re the best aerial side in the CL, that actually works in our favour. You would hope we approach the game in the same way as the 2nd Barca home game, don’t try to impose our own game, use the disadvantages of that style against them instead.

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