Champions League

Arsenal must earn a first leg advantage to beat Bayern Munich, says Alan Smith

Smith: Reckons Arsenal may struggle to progress

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Arsenal face a tough task to reach the Champions League quarter finals after drawing last year's finalists Bayern Munich, Alan Smith told Sky Sports.

Bayern lost out on penalties to Chelsea in last season's final, which was held on their home turf in Munich at the Allianz Arena.

That defeat - their second Champions League Final loss in three years - will have hurt the European giants, reckons Smith, and the former Arsenal striker expects the German side to be fired up to take this year's title.

And Smith believes Bayern, who were also runners-up in the Bundesliga and German Cup, the DFB-Pokal, last season are even stronger now, after adding to their squad in the summer.

"The chances were it was going to be difficult for Arsenal and so it's proved," said Smith.

"Bayern have strengthened in response to that defeat to Chelsea in Munich, with the likes of Javi Martinez and Mario Mandzukic. They've also got Franck Ribery on the left hand side, who has been in really good form for them and has a great partnership with David Alaba.

"Then there's Bastian Schweinsteiger in the middle, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez - experienced, strong players.

"Bayern have so many options and there are so many choices at the coach's disposal, in a way Arsenal just haven't got.

"Bayern Munich will be out to make amends for that disappointment and it's going to be really tough for Arsenal."

"We saw Arsenal against AC Milan last year get beaten 4-0 at their place and nothing that's happened since would convince me that couldn't happen again."

Alan Smith

Smith feels Arsenal's performance in the first leg, which will take place at the Emirates, is vital and believes the Gunners must take at least a one goal advantage to Germany to stand any chance of progressing to the final eight.

"Arsenal are home first so you would want them to get a couple of goals advantage to take to Munich," he said. "You feel Arsenal are the kind of team who need that.

"We saw Arsenal against AC Milan last year get beaten 4-0 at their place and nothing that's happened since would convince me that couldn't happen again.

"Arsenal are nice and comfortable to play against when they haven't got the ball - that would have to change for me if they were going to progress. They need a good performance at the Emirates to take to Germany."

Timid

Charlie Nicholas is also sceptical about Arsenal's chances and says they'll need their big players to perform over the two matches.

The former Arsenal and Celtic striker is also intrigued to see how former Bayern Munich forward Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker get on when they return to their homeland.

"It will be interesting with Podolski going back to Bayern and Mertesacker going back to Germany because there's a big responsibility on Arsenal's experienced players now," he said.

"I don't worry about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, who's just getting back into the groove, going there but, although come February I might be a bit more confident, at the minute I'm a bit timid.

"The Emirates is everything for Arsenal but Bayern are used to the big game, they know how to handle the big situation and they'll be sitting there saying: 'you don't frighten us'."