Why Bayern Munich vs Arsenal is make or break for Gabriel Jesus with the Gunners – European talking points | Football News

Make or break for Jesus at Arsenal

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Wednesday night’s trip to Bayern Munich could be a moment where Arsenal turn to Gabriel Jesus for experience. It may also be a night where they turn away from him as a reliable option up front.

The Brazilian forward is one of the few players in the Gunners squad with experience in the Champions League that predates this season, but does Mikel Arteta trust him enough for Arsenal’s biggest game of the campaign?

Jesus comes into the Bayern trip with one goal in his seven Premier League matches in 2024, hardly the form needed for such a big venue like the Allianz Arena. Another wasteful display against Aston Villa raised more questions about whether centre-forward is a position that Arteta can improve on in the summer.

That being said, Jesus has performed when required for Arsenal in the Champions League, with four goals and three assists in his seven European matches this season, including a classy assist for Leandro Trossard in the first-leg equaliser with Bayern. Yet there is still a dilemma over whether he or Kai Havertz is the best No 9 option on Wednesday.

If Arteta goes with Jesus, the striker’s Arsenal career is at a crossroads. A top performance would keep him as an important figure at the club. Anything else and he could be replaced this year.
Sam Blitz

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With Germany and England neck-and-neck in the race for coefficient points, each win, draw and qualification for the next rounds is huge. Each win is worth two coefficient points, a draw gets you one, and you get nothing for a defeat. There are also bonus points for getting to certain stages, so if Borussia Dortmund overturn their Champions League first-leg 2-1 deficit to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, that will give Germany a further bonus point in their ranking.

Could Spurs fans really be cheering on Arsenal against Bayern?

After a dismal defeat at Newcastle on Saturday, Tottenham have slipped out of the top four – and now their attention turns to the coefficient race in the hope for Champions League football.

Fifth place, which Spurs currently occupy, could well be enough for Champions League qualification if the Premier League gains an extra spot in next season’s revamped competition.

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But at the moment Germany (16.785) sit ahead of England (16.750) in the race for the extra Champions League spot with Wednesday’s crunch game between Bayern Munich and Arsenal having a huge say in the coefficient landscape.

Germany will probably need both Bayern and Bayer Leverkusen – who face West Ham in the Europa League quarter-finals – to go through to finish ahead of England.

It leaves Spurs fans in an awkward position on Wednesday: do they support their arch-rivals Arsenal in the hope it could help them earn Champions League football next season?

Or do they get behind their former hero Harry Kane to end Arsenal’s quest for a first European Cup?

Can City produce another statement win over Real?

Phil Foden is congratulated by Pep Guardiola after his goal for Manchester City against Real Madrid
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Pep Guardiola will be desperate for Manchester City to play with their customary control in the quarter-final second leg at home to Real Madrid

Manchester City’s win over Inter Milan in Istanbul last May may have been the match that finally secured their first Champions League title, but it was their 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid in the semi-final second leg that was the most impressive of their campaign.

After a 1-1 draw in the Bernabeu – featuring excellent goals from Vinicius Junior and Kevin De Bruyne – City tore Real apart at the Etihad, dethroning the champions with a true show of force.

Can Pep Guardiola’s side repeat the trick on Wednesday? The similarities are there from the first leg – a 3-3 draw in Madrid that again featured several outstanding strikes.

To do so, City will need to tighten up defensively. It may be harsh to criticise a side that have not lost in their last 27 games, but City have conceded seven goals in their last four outings – many of them entirely avoidable.

The three goals Real scored from an expected goals total of just 0.65 in the first leg shows just how deadly Carlo Ancelotti’s side are. Guardiola will be desperate for his team to reassert their customary control in the second leg.

If they are able to do so in front of what is likely to be a fired-up Etihad crowd, don’t rule out City producing another statement performance as they bid to win a second straight treble.
Joe Shread

History teaches us never to write off Liverpool

“Awful result and performance,” wrote Jamie Carragher after Liverpool imploded in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie against Atalanta. “The only consolation is Jurgen should play a full second string and go all in for the league,” he added.

That was before they followed up last Thursday’s humbling by getting beat by Crystal Palace at the weekend. Now there’s a real dilemma. Manchester City are in the driving seat for the Premier League crown, but Liverpool and Arsenal remain in hot pursuit. Neither will abandon their hunt based on one loss, nor should they.

Can Liverpool be seen to down tools in Europe, then? In short, no. Three-nil is not an unassailable scoreline, besides, Liverpool and famous European comebacks have history. Let us journey back to 2019 – the Reds fought back from three goals down against Barcelona, and not just any Barca, the Lionel Messi brand of Barca. Then there’s 2005. Champions League final in Istanbul. If you know, you know.

Atalanta's Mario Pasalic celebrates scoring their third goal against Liverpool
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Italian side Atalanta put three goals past Liverpool at Anfield

Pride and momentum are at play too. Klopp said so himself after losing to Palace on Sunday – Liverpool lacked conviction based on a rocky run of results. No better way to bounce back from a rough patch than a morale-boosting fightback. Imagine the scenes.

There are no guarantees Liverpool can go to Bergamo and summon extraordinary powers of recovery, of course, because Atalanta won’t roll over easy. But they have to at least try.
Laura Hunter

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Bayer Leverkusen are now the champions of Germany and, 43 games into this most spectacular of seasons, remain unbeaten in all competitions. Given Liverpool’s surprise thumping at the hands of Atalanta, Xabi Alonso’s side are now favourites for the trophy.

A 2-0 win over West Ham in Leverkusen puts them in control of this tie and few supporters of the London side are particularly optimistic about the prospect of a turnaround. They were outplayed in Germany and followed that up with a home defeat to Fulham.

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Maybe Leverkusen overdoing the celebrations is the best bet? The first goal would certainly make things interesting and even if West Ham are unable to progress, a one-goal win could have consequences behind the prize of being the first to beat Leverkusen this season.

A Premier League team beating a Bundesliga team in the Europa League would impact the coefficient race given that only one will be able to claim the additional Champions League place. Even a win for West Ham on the night would be enough to earn points.

That could be important for West Ham because if the Premier League do take the extra place then, unless Coventry pull off an unlikely FA Cup win, eighth would be enough to qualify for the Europa Conference League. And West Ham have fond memories of that competition.
Adam Bate

Will Villa rise to occasion in biggest European tie for 26 years?

Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring for Aston Villa against Lille
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Ollie Watkins scored in Aston Villa’s first-leg win over Lille and at Arsenal on Sunday

The ease with which Aston Villa reached the Conference League quarter-finals has served to underplay the size of their achievement. It’s 26 years since they were in the last eight of a major European competition.

Back in 1998, they fell agonisingly short against Atletico Madrid, who progressed on away goals. Villa won the second leg at Villa Park thanks to two goals in three second-half minutes, but couldn’t add the third that would have secured a famous victory.

Unlike John Gregory’s side 26 years ago, Unai Emery’s outfit are in an advantageous position as they travel to Lille, having won the first leg 2-1.

Villa will arrive in France on a high after their stunning win at Arsenal on Sunday – but Lille were impressive in the first tie and are capable of bringing their Premier League opponents back down to earth.

Emery spoke of the need for consistency from his side after the victory at the Emirates. If they can replicate that performance in north London, a first major European semi-final since 1982 – the year they won the European Cup – will be within their grasp.
Joe Shread

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