Arsenal have already been knocked out of two cup competitions by Blackburn and Bradford City this year, and the pressure is on Arsene Wenger as the mighty Bayern Munich roll into town.
The Germans are in imperious form losing just two games all season, conceding just 15 goals in 31 games and keeping six clean sheets away from home on the spin. Fair to say that is slightly better form than Blackburn were in at the weekend.
Tonight is a huge night for ‘Le Professor’. He might have safety navigated the murky waters of high finance and built a top-class stadium modern stadium that brings in enough cash to help Arsenal compete at the top level. But it is getting on for eight years since he lifted any silverware bar his posh cutlery and time is running out. Here are five reasons why Arsene has to win tonight including how it would shut Piers Morgan up for a few hours.
In good news for Arsenal fans Munich have won just 12 per cent of European games on English soil. They’ve suffered defeats to Everton and Coventry City and could only scrape a draw against Norwich. This should be a piece of cake then.
Personally, I reckon the only reason that Bayern won tonight is that they're far better at playing the sport of football than Arsenal are.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 19, 2013
9.36pm: Full-time – Arsenal 1-3 Bayern Munich. Game over? The Gunners need at least three goals in Germany if they are to progress to the quarter-finals. Bayern Munich have lost just one Champions League game at home in the last two years. Gulp.
9.32pm: Lahm picks up a booking for chopping down Thomas Vermaelen. Arsenal have to do something with the free-kick but it is initially well defended and then Sagna puts someone’s life in danger by tonking it in to the top tier. Useless.
9.30pm: Bayern Munich look comfortable but it could be worse for Arsene Wenger. At least he doesn’t have to listen to Mark Lawrenson commentating.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 19, 2013
9.22pm: Jack Wilshere almost gets back into it with a thunderous drive but Nueur is equal to it. The keeper hasn’t had a lot to do tonight and he has probably got away with that huge error for the Arsenal goal.
9.21pm: GOAL! Robben slips in Lahm who fizzes the ball across the six yard box. It comes off a combination of Sagna and Mandukic and loops up into the air before dropping agonisingly into the back of the net. Disaster for Arsenal who have an absolute mountain to climb now. Just over 10 minutes to go in the Emirates.
9.18pm: Arsenal piling forward in search of the equaliser but they need that bit of quality in the final third. Bayern look dangerous on the break though.
9.16pm: Almost an instant impact from Giroud. Walcott whips in a delightful ball and Giroud’s header is a good one but straight at Neuer. The keeper doesn’t know a great deal about it but a combination of his knee and a strong right hand keep Bayern ahead. Just.
9.14pm: Double substitution for Arsenal as Arsene Wenger tries to earn his pay cheque. Podolski and Ramsey make way fro Giroud and Rosicky.
9.12pm: Aaron Ramsey picks up a booking for a cynical tackle but the free-kick is wasted. The draw is 4/1 now in-play.
9.06pm: Franck Ribery is making way for Arjen Robben. The rest of the Bayern Munich players look thoroughly gutted as they realise they probably won’t get a touch of the ball for the rest of the game.
9.04pm: Fancy seeing one of the world’s best goalkeepers looking very silly in an animated GIF? Of course you do.
9.01pm: Despite having five officials none of them spotted that should have been a goal kick, and I thought my eyesight was pretty bad. Arsenal will certainly take it though. They are 14/1 to win now.
8.59pm: GOAL! Podolski gets Arsenal back in it! Incredibly the referee gives Arsenal a corner from that Cazorla shot when it 100 per cent should have been a goal kick. The corner is swung in and Manuel Neuer has an absolute mare. The keeper can’t decide whether to come or go and Podolski heads into an almost empty net. Game on!
8.57pm: Santi Cazorla has a shot from range and Paddy is panicking. Luckily for the shareholders it deflects wide off Podolski and the MBS does not click.
8.52pm: It is as you were at the Emirates. Bayern Munich finding plenty of space in the final third and when Arsenal do manage to make it forward the Germans look calm, composed and snuff out any danger easily.
8.48pm: Hopefully you’ve made a brew and got comfy again because the second half has begun. No changes for either team.
8.35pm: Here’s a half-time betting update for those of you who love gettign down and dirty with a bit of in-play. Anyone brave enough to put their cajones on the line and back Arsenal?
Bayern Munich 1/16
Bayern Munich 3-0 – 9/2
Bayern Munich 4-0 – 10/1
2-2 draw – 10/1
Arsenal 3-2 – 35/1
8.32pm: Half-time and boos ring around the Emirates. Definitely not from the Bayern Munich fans. They are happier than Neil Ruddock in a kebab house. Arsenal 0-2 Bayern Munich.
8.30pm: That should be 3-0. Lahm has all the time and space in the world to whip in a cross from the left and Mandzukic is completely unmarked around ten yards out. He meets it with a super header that is just millimetres the wrong side of the post. That would have been goodnight Vienna.
8.29pm: I hope the Samaritans are well staffed tonight. They can expect a call from Piers Morgan.
This is our best team – the culmination of Wenger's rebuilding strategy since the Invincibles. And we're getting humiliated. #Arsenal
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 19, 2013
8.27pm: That does mean that Schweinsteiger will miss the second leg in Munich. It might not really matter if Bayern get a few more here.
8.24pm: Making a cup of tea. Nipping to the loo. Checking Youtube for hillarious Harlam Shake videos. These are all reasons to take my eyes off the match and miss a live blog update. I haven’t done any of these things though and I still missed Schweinsteiger get booked. According to the commentator it was off-camera and for dissent.
8.22pm: Thomas Muller goes into the referees notebook. The man in charge is dishing out more cards than those One Direction lads get on Valentine’s Day.
8.19pm: Arsenal having their best spell of the game at the minute but Bayern Munich are still making it look very easy to defend. The biggest problem Manuel Neuer is having is that he can’t turn the pages of his book in those silly four-fingered gloves.
8.16pm: A few bookings to update you on. Sagna, Arteta and Vermaelen have all been yellow carded. That hasn’t just happened in the last three minutes though, I’ve just been quite busy.
8.13pm: The Gooners are now out to 25/1 to win this one and the draw is as big as 9/1. 15 minutes until the oranges and Arsenal still haven’t even had a shot.
8.11pm: Is that the tie over? Here’s a GIF of Muller with one of the easiest Champions League goals he will ever score.
8.05pm: GOAL! Arsenal getting Mullered! It is 2-0 to Bayern Munich and this is a disaster for Arsenal. Van Buyten’s header from the corner is saved by Szczesny but Thomas Muller finishes it from less than a yard out. Too easy for Munich as Arsenal’s defended like statues (Brilliant cliche that one).
8.00pm: Here is that early Toni Kroos goal in an animated GIF. Wenger might not want to watch over and over again but we can.
7.56pm: Disappointing for Arsenal who had started well. Kroos is brought down and Munich are in a great position already in this tie and we’re only 10 minutes in.
7.53pm: GOAL! Taxi for Wenger? The ball gets whipped in and Koscielny only dangles a leg at it. Toni Kroos is on to it and lashes it past the keeper. It is a well struck effort from the edge of the box after it sat up for him.
7.52pm: Munich waste an early corner and Arsenal fly forward on the break to win a corner of their own. It comes to nothing but the pace of the counter-attack will please Arsene Wenger. The Gunners look threatening on the break through Walcott and Cazorla.
7.48pm: Early opening for Santi Cazorla but his delivery is about as good as the local Dominos on a Saturday night and is easily cut out. A positive start from the Gunners though.
7.45pm: Arsenal kick-off and have won an early free-kick. Plenty of smoke above the pitch in these early stages. I can only presume that the Munich fans have lit a flare or the riots in London are happening again. I’m fairly certain it is the former.
7.43pm: The players are out and the Emirates is apparently almost a sell-out. That is despite the fact that the most expensive Arsenal ticket tonight is around the same price as a Bayern Munich season ticket. Simply ridiculous.
7.39pm: Only five minutes to go until we are off. Arsene Wenger is 10/1 to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked. Will that price be slashed by 10.00pm this evening?
7.34pm: There is another absolutely massive game going on this evening. Tranmere take on Swindon at Prenton Park with a win taking either team to the top of League One.
Oh, and Porto take on Malaga.
7.30pm: 15 minutes till kick-off and the money is coming in for the draw at 13/5. Here are some pretty useful stats that you can use to back up your betting to friends. Whip them out every now and again this evening.
Bayern Munich have only conceded one league goal away from home this year and have kept six clean sheets away from home on the spin in all competitions. They are 5/2 to win to nil.
Munich only have a 12 per cent success rate on English soil. Arsenal are 5/6 to win or draw.
Mario Mandzukic has scored four goals in Bayern’s last three away games. The striker is 7/5 to find the onion bag at any time tonight and 5/1 to be the first scorer.
7.25pm: This is exactly the kind of stat that fuels the anti-Wenger brigade…
In Wenger's first 8 seasons, he won 7 trophies. In the last 8 years: none. He has earned 50 million in those 8 trophy-less seasons.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 19, 2013
7.20pm: Paddy Power himself has just dropped down to the office looking pretty worried. Either he’s just eaten a meal from our canteen and realised it’s heading south faster than a crew of migrating birds or he has remembered about tonight’s Money-Back Special. If Santi Cazorla scores at anytime we will refund selected bets! I advise you check it out here, and never eat from the PP canteen.
7.14pm: Plenty of love around for Walcott on Twitter. Considering a few years ago it looked like he couldn’t finish his dinner let alone a one-on-one this is a huge night for him. He’s 8/1 to open the scoring if you fancy a nibble.
7.10pm: Now that he has ‘signed da ting’ Theo Walcott gets to start up front. Interesting to see how Gunners feel about that move. Theo has scored a pretty measly 60 goals in 250 games for Arsenal but is having the best season of his career in terms of goals so far.
7.04pm: If Arsenal get beat tonight it will put serious pressure on them in the second leg. Failing to win the Champions League will mean an eighth trophy-less season for Arsene Wenger. At least that ridiculous jacket would come in useful…
6.58pm: Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben are on the bench for Munich as Mario Mandzukic starts up top. For Arsenal it looks like Thomas Vermaelen is starting at left-back which might not be ideal but at least it is better than Andre Santo.
Bayern Munich: Neuer, Lahm, van Buyten, Dante, Alaba, Martinez, Schweinsteiger, Müller, Kroos, Ribery, Mandzukic
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott
6.55pm: Team news is in and coming right your way…