Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the pre-season friendly meeting between Bayern Munich
at the Shanghai Stadium. Four months on from the last meeting between these two sides - a two-legged affair that Gunners supporters will no doubt want to forget about - they lock horns once again in this International Champions Cup clash in China.
This is the Gunners' toughest test of the summer so far by quite some distance, having so far brushed aside both Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers during the first leg of their tour Down Under. Now they are in Asia for games against Bayern and Chelsea, with less than a month to go now until the Premier League season gets up and running. The Bavarian club have a little longer to wait for their season to begin, but preparations are certainly in full swing.
We are still awaiting official confirmation of Bayern's starting XI for this afternoon's clash in Shanghai, but we can expect boss Carlo Ancelotti
to rotate his squad a little. That proved to be the case last weekend when facing domestic rivals Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen on the same day, giving some of his big-name players a gentle return to action following a short spell away.
ARSENAL TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Cech; Maitland-Niles, Bielik, Mertesacker, Monreal, Kolasinac; Coquelin, Xhaka; Ozil, Welbeck; Lacazette
SUBS: Martinez, Ospina, Bramall, Elneny, Giroud, Iwobi, Koscielny, Malen, Nelson, Nketiah, Chamberlain, Ramsey, Walcott, Willock
Starting with a look at the side named by Arsene Wenger
, the Frenchman has gone with a mixture of first-team starters and back-up players. It is fair to assume that Petr Cech will retain the number-one spot next term, so he is given a chance to redeem himself somewhat against the Bavarians today, while Nacho Monreal, Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette are also among the starters.
Wenger has made clear that he intends to stick with his three-man backline for the new campaign, and for the third match running in pre-season he has gone with that system. Krystian Bielik, Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal appear to have been handed spots at the back, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles and new recruit Sead Kolasinac - who will know Bayern better than most following his time in German football - are tasked with running the flanks.
That leaves Francis Coquelin alongside Xhaka in the engine room, while Ozil and Danny Welbeck will operate just behind star signing Lacazette in attack. A strong-looking XI named by Wenger, albeit one that is still some way from being the likely side named against Leicester City on the opening day of the campaign. Fourteen subs named by Wenger this afternoon, with 11 of those likely to be given playing time at some stage or another.
Among the subs are Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Cohen Bramall, who all impressed on their senior bows against Sydney FC six days ago. Wenger admitted after that match that the trio, as well as the other youngsters in the tour squad, are "very close" to forcing their way into his plans for the new season. No place in the squad for the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin, though, as they have all been involved in international action this summer.
BAYERN MUNICH TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Starke; Rafinha, Alaba, Hummels, Bernat; Martinez, Tolisso; Muller, Rodriguez, Ribery; Lewandowski
SUBS: Fruchtl, Hoffmann, Gotze, Coman, Dorsch, Friedl, Sanches, Wintzheimer, Pantovic
Ancelotti has also gone with a very strong starting lineup, although there is a place between the sticks for retired goalkeeper Tom Starke. That's right - he retired at the end of last season but, due to some injury issues, the 36-year-old is back for this friendly match. Manuel Neuer is not the only big-name absentee from the squad, as Sebastian Rudy, Arturo Vidal, Niklas Sule and Joshua Kimmich are also missing due to their international commitments.
Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng join Neuer on the sidelines, yet a quick glance at the Bayern side fielded today - even minus those players listed - shows just how strong they are. Ancelotti has recruited smartly this summer, bringing in the likes of James Rodriguez and Corentin Tolisso, both of whom come into the starting XI this afternoon. A 4-2-3-1 appears to be the formation of choice from the Italian tactician.
Rodriguez, who was handed his first appearance for Bayern in the win over Bremen last time out, certainly has a point to prove during his season's loan from Real Madrid, where he was shamelessly overlooked. The Colombian remains one of the finest talents anywhere on the continent, but there is no denying that he needed a move away this summer after being snubbed from the squad entirely for the Champions League final win over Real Madrid. Many sides wanted him; Bayern got him.
Rodriguez joins Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller in a three-man attacking midfield, playing just off leading marksman Robert Lewandowski
. It really is a scary-looking forward line if you are one of those Arsenal defenders, with that three-man backline likely to become five-at-the-back for large parts. Javi Martinez and the aforementioned Tolisso sit slightly deeper, while the versatile David Alaba looks likely to drop into central defence alongside Mats Hummels.
Alexandre Lacazette netted within 15 minutes of coming off the bench on his Arsenal debut last week, tucking home from an Alex Iwobi cutback to down Australian champions Sydney FC. The club-record purchase failed to register against Western Sydney Wanderers last time out, though, and he now has a very tough task to break down Bayern Munich's defence. Plenty of new recruits on display for both sides - Corentin Tolisso, Sead Kolasinac and James Rodriguez among them.
© Zak Kaczmarek / Stringer
Bayern embarking on another campaign that will inevitably finish with them top of the pile in Germany, then, having strolled to the title once again last term. That did not always look like being the case, mind, as RB Leipzig gave them a real run for their money in the first half of the season, right until suffering a costly defeat to their rivals prior to the winter break. From that point on it was all about the Bavarians' quality, eventually finishing 15 points clear.
Ancelotti's men finished the season in style, stringing together four wins on the bounce and scoring 16 goals in the process. There was an underlying fear of the squad becoming perhaps a tad stale last time out, however, having fallen short in the domestic cup and in the Champions League - the true barometer of a team's quality. After crushing Arsenal in the last 16 of UEFA's showpiece competition - more on that a little later - they went down 6-3 to Real Madrid in the last eight.
With the title already essentially in the bag, that two-legged loss to Madrid all but killed off Ancelotti's hopes of ending the season on a serious high - winning the Bundesliga comfortably is par for the course in Bavaria, after all. Ancelotti has responded during the off-season by spending wisely, however, bringing in Rodriguez on loan from Madrid and also recruiting Tolisso from Lyon, while Kingsley Coman joined permanently from Juventus after a successful loan spell from Juventus.
Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy are the other two to come on board, officially joining from Hoffenheim during the summer window after being purchased earlier in the year. Former Arsenal man Serge Gnabry is the other exciting prospect recruited by Ancelotti, although we will not get a chance to see him against the Gunners today as he was loaned straight back out. A fresher look to the squad, then - one that you could essentially break into two and still expect them to walk the league.
Bayern are without star duo Phillip Lahm and Xabi Alonso this term, meanwhile, with the pair bringing an end to their glittering careers at the end of last season. Tom Starke was the other to bow out, though that proved to be a temporary decision as he is back among the starters today! You fancy the German giants to adapt just fine without those players, however, as they now look stronger than even with their new arrivals.
This is Bayern's third senior outing of the summer, having so far overcome domestic rivals Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen in the Telekom Cup, lifting the trophy for a record-extending fourth time. Fair to say that pre-season honour is not to high up the list of their priorities this term, but winning the International Champions Cup is certainly a notch up, as they take on Arsenal, Chelsea, AC Milan and Inter Milan during their time in Asia.
Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti has recruited well during the off-season bringing in a handful of new players to freshen up a squad that looked to become a little stale last term. Corentin Tolisso and James Rodriguez, the latter joining on loan from Real Madrid after falling out of favour, headline their incoming additions. Winning the Bundesliga is Ancelotti's minimum aim for the new campaign; going all the way in the Champions League will determine just how successful his second year at the club has been.
Arsenal somewhat rescued their previous campaign a little by winning the FA Cup - the third time in four years they have prevailed at Wembley Stadium in that competition - but for a large chunk of supporters even that was not enough. Boss Arsene Wenger
has outstayed his welcome, they feel, and his latest two-year contract extension was not deserved. The Frenchman always looked likely to stay on, despite the mounting pressure, but he must now prove that he can take the club forward.
We have already seen the Gunners up close twice during pre-season, easing to a 2-0 win over Sydney FC and a 3-1 triumph over Western Sydney Wanderers. They were nice warm-up games to ease back into action, with both scorelines not giving a true reflection of their dominance over the 90 minutes. Wenger rotated his squad in both matches, bringing on a whole new side for the final 20 minutes.
It will be interesting to see whether Wenger does the same today, or whether he instead makes the regulation three changes around the hour mark to build up player fitness. Chelsea are up next in a few days' time, remember, so it might make sense to field two different sides in those matches, as apposed to chopping and changing like we saw Down Under. Either way, this is a serious step up in quality - Bayern and Chelsea are among European football's elite clubs.
While Bayern take on AC Milan, Inter Milan and Chelsea during their time in Asia, Arsenal head back home later this week ahead of Emirates Cup games against Benfica and Sevilla. Then comes the curtain-raising fixture against the Blues in the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium, less than a week before welcoming Leicester City to the Emirates Stadium for the opening game of the new Premier League season.
Arsenal have struggled to hit the ground running in the past couple of seasons, but they must avoid a slow start this time around as they visit likely title rivals Liverpool and Chelsea in the opening five weeks of the season. The good news for Wenger is that he has the vast majority of his players available for the whole of pre-season, unlike in a World Cup or European Championship year - Alexis Sanchez, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin the men currently missing.
On the topic of Sanchez, it is still unknown whether we will actually see him in an Arsenal top again. The Chile international is due to return to training at the end of this month once returning from his extended break, but with talk of a switch to Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain hotting up, the Gunners may well be forced to cash in. Wenger has stressed that he is not considering selling his star man, though he has said that many times in the past - most recently with Robin van Persie to Manchester United.
Lacazette is the big arrival at the Emirates Stadium so far this summer, joining from Lyon for a fee of £46.5m, while Sead Kolasinac has also been recruited on a free from Schalke 04. Thomas Lemar is the only other star name being linked with a move to the Gunners, likely setting them back a little over £40m if they can tempt AS Monaco, though Arsenal really do have to keep hold of Sanchez if they are to challenge for the title. Should they do so, this could - could! - be their year.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS! These two sides have met eight times in the past five years, with Bayern Munich winning five of those and losing two. Incredibly, the Bavarians have triumphed 5-1 in each of the previous three encounters, including in the last-16 stage of the Champions League last term to earn a 10-2 aggregate victory. It was arguably the lowest point of Arsene Wenger's European managerial career, though he somehow survived yet again after being handed a new two-year deal.
With kickoff at the Shanghai Stadium now just a couple of minutes away, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.
Carlo Ancelotti [On James Rodriguez's arrival]: "Of course we didn't buy James to replace Thomas Muller. If you think this way you can think he will replace Thiago [Alcantara] because he can play in the centre. He can play on the right or the left and so he can replace [Arjen] Robben or [Franck] Ribery. Sometimes I put him as a midfielder so he can replace [Corentin] Tolisso and [Arturo] Vidal. We didn't buy James to replace anyone. We bought James to add to the team."
Arsene Wenger [On Alexis Sanchez's future]: "I don't give too much importance to things that are translated, you know. The whole interview that I got didn't really mean that. The main focus for us is to concentrate on the Premier League and the Premier League for me today is more important than the Champions League. We played 20 years in the Champions League, that's 17 years before Sanchez arrived and three years with him, so he can get us back in there."
Kickoff has been delayed by around five minutes in Shanghai, with many spectators still making their way into this impressive ground. A late change to Arsenal's starting lineup to bring you up to speed with - centre-back Per Mertesacker has dropped out through illness to be replaced by Mohamed Elneny. Far from ideal when you have James, Ribery, Muller and Lewandowski in the opposition ranks.
KICKOFF! We are under way at the Shanghai Stadium in this high-profile friendly encounter, a little over 10 minutes later than planned. Both teams unbeaten in pre-season action so far, but this is a serious step up in terms of the quality of the opposition.
Confirmation that Elneny has been thrown into the heart of defence due to Mertesacker's late withdrawal. Maitland-Niles is at right wing-back and Kolasinac on the left. Fairly tentative start made by both teams in Shanghai.
Arsenal knock the ball through midfield and Welbeck then offloads to Maitland-Niles down the right. A good challenge to prevent him from stretching his legs, with the Gunners hoping to utilise their wing-backs down both flanks.
SHOT! First attempt of the afternoon comes via Xhaka, who certainly knows how to find the top corner from range. Welbeck pulled the ball back for his teammate 20 yards out, but the ball was struck high over the bar.
GOAL! BAYERN MUNICH 1-0 ARSENAL (ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI, PENALTY)
Arsenal fashioned the first shot of the afternoon but it is Bayern who have looked slightly sharper, and that told when Juan Bernat burst into the box and was clumsily brought down by Maitland-Niles. The wing-back insists that he made no contact, but the referee felt otherwise and Lewandowski sent Cech the wrong way.
SAVE! Almost a perfect response from the Gunners, as Welbeck spots Giroud with a decent ball. The German playmaker volleyed on target, but it was rather hit straight at Starke down the middle. Lively encounter here!
Fears of another 5-1 thrashing after that bright start from Bayern, but Arsenal have responded fairly well. Bayern spread the ball from right to left and, once the ball eventually came in, Monreal had to be at full stretch to clear.
Bayern have stepped things up over the past few minutes, creating another superb opening through Ribery. The Frenchman found himself through around the back, but once cutting the ball back it was an Arsenal player who got there first.
Rather ominous signs in the opening 19 minutes of this match, as Bayern have scored one and have managed to create another few openings. Arsenal having to find their feet at the moment in this third pre-season outing of the summer.
Arsenal with all sorts of problems down their right, with Ribery in particular clearly up for this one. James Rodriguez also looking very sharp on his second outing for the club, having joined on loan from Madrid last week.
YELLOW CARD! Francis Coquelin earns himself a booking for halting the run of Ribery. Xhaka should be grateful because it was his mistake that allowed Bayern to break. The Gunners struggling to find their feet in the opening quarter of the match.
GOAL DISALLOWED! It should be two! Tolisso slotted the ball past Cech at the end of a bright move, but the linesman wrongly adjudged that he was offside. Incredible just how sharp Bayern look so early into pre-season.
YELLOW CARD! It has been far from a feisty game, yet Javi Martinez has just become the second player to see a yellow card inside the opening half an hour, presumably for dissent. Bayern deserving of their slender lead.
Arsenal have seen much more of the ball over the past five minutes or so. They have created just the one chance so far, being restricted to Ozil's volley down the middle which Starke managed to keep out. Time for a short drinks break!
Drinks break over with, we are back under way at the Shanghai Stadium. A reminder that Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring nine minutes in from the spot, while a second from the boot of Corentin Tolisso was wrongly ruled out.
SAVE! Superb stop from veteran stopper Starke to deny Lacazette. Ozil slotted the Frenchman through and, in a one-on-one position, you would put all your money on him netting. Starke got down and kept out the shot, however, keeping his side in front.
Martinez leaps highest to meet a corner, but it ends over the bar. A fairly entertaining first half in Shanghai, with both teams now creating a couple of clear-cut openings. Lewandowski's penalty proving to be the difference so far.
SAVE! Top reaction save from Cech to keep out a long-range driver from Muller. The ball took a big deflection off Monreal on its way through, but the Gunners' first-choice stopper managed to stick out a big hand to help it aside.
SAVE! Another top save from Cech, this time to deny Benat. Bayern almost toying with their opponents in the box, before the full-back blasted the ball on goal for the Czech ace to palm to safety. Bayern closing in on a second.
SAVE! It is a third save in the space of five minutes or so from Cech to keep his side in this match. Arsenal's backline really is all over the place at the moment, with Rodriguez peeling away in acres of space at the back post. Decent attempt at the end of it but Cech produced a starfish-esque stop.
ARSENAL SUB! Kolasinac was at fault for that latest Bayern chance, and he has now made way for Reiss Nelson with just a couple of minutes of the half to play. Presumably an injury problem to blame, rather than Wenger sending out a message.
HALF TIME: BAYERN MUNICH 1-0 ARSENAL
Bayern have looked so impressive at times during the first half, again carving their opponents open. No surprise to see Ribery at the heart of it, reaching the byline and sending in a good ball for Xhaka to desperately clear. Just the one goal in it at the break, but no denying that the Bavarians are deserving of their advantage at this midway point.
Arsenal fashioned the first shooting opportunity of the afternoon, with Granit Xhaka getting under Danny Welbeck's cutback to send the ball high over the crossbar. It was Bayern who looked the sharper throughout the opening 45 minutes, however, netting nine minutes in from the spot after Juan Bernat was clumsily brought down by makeshift wing-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles, allowing Robert Lewandowski to tuck away.
The Bavarian club included recently-retired goalkeeper Tom Starke in their starting lineup due to a couple of injury issues, and he was needed twice in the first half to deny a close-range volley from Mesut Ozil and a one-on-one from Alexandre Lacazette. Record signing Lacazette looked favourite to score his second goal of pre-season when latching on to Ozil's through-ball, only for the veteran stopper to produce a big save down low.
Bayern really should have taken more than a one-goal lead into the interval, though, as they created numerous openings, one of which ended with new recruit Corentin Tolisso tucking below Petr Cech. The offside flag was wrongly raised on that occasion, while Cech proved the hero later in the half to deny Thomas Muller, Benat and James Rodriguez in the space of five minutes.
It was no surprise to see Arsenal's three-man backline being given its sternest test yet, with boss Arsene Wenger forced into a change before the half was out by bringing on Reiss Nelson for a seemingly unwell Sead Kolasinac. Bayern having to settle for just the one goal, then, as we await the two sets of players to rejoin us for the second half in Shanghai.
BAYERN MUNICH SUBS: Fruchtl, Hoffmann, Gotze, Coman, Dorsch, Friedl, Sanches, Wintzheimer, Pantovic
ARSENAL SUBS: Martinez, Ospina, Bramall, Elneny, Giroud, Iwobi, Koscielny, Malen, Nketiah, Chamberlain, Ramsey, Walcott, Willock
© Zak Kaczmarek / Stringer
RESTART! We are back up and running at the Shanghai Stadium, where there is news of a few Bayern Munich changes to bring you. Coman, Fruchtl and Sanchez are on for the second half, taking over from Martinez, Starke and Muller.
Arsenal also made a few of changes at the interval, with Walcott, Willock and Iwobi joining us. Appears to now be a back four formation for the second half, which makes sense because the Gunners were pulled apart completely at times in the first half.
SAVE! A change in formation, but no change in the story of this match - Bayern are dominating this match. Coman with a good delivery from the right, which Lewandowski decides to leave for James - they are queuing up for it. The shot was on target but Cech was well positioned to save.
Not quite sure how Arsenal are still just the one goal down, but while that remains the case they have a chance to snatch a draw from this match. A free kick is won 25 yards out, which Walcott sends straight into the Bayern wall.
Maitland-Niles wins the ball when one-on-one against Ribery inside his own area, but he followed through and has left his opponent in some pain. A strong challenge from the makeshift wing-back, who has struggled for most of today.
Fast approaching the hour mark at the Shanghai Stadium, where there is no real change to the flow of the match. Arsenal enjoying the odd passing spell, but it is Bayern who look by far the sharper when transitioning into attacks.
Some good link-up play down the left culminates in Bernat cutting back inside and laying it off for Sanches, who took on the wrong option by shooting from 20 yards out. The ball deflected and Cech kept it in play to prevent a corner.
YELLOW CARD! Some of the worst officiating you will see all pre-season this afternoon. A goal wrongly ruled out, a contentious penalty call and just all-round bad decisions from the referee and linesmen. Elneny now cautioned despite fairly going for the ball.
SAVE! Alaba takes on the free kick from just short of 20 yards out, finding the target but not getting the beating of Cech. The former Chelsea keeper has been the Gunners' undisputed star man in the opening hour of the match.
ARSENAL SUB! Wenger brings on Ramsey for Xhaka in the engine room. Can the Welshman help halt the flow of Bayern's constant pressure? 18-3 to the Germans in terms of shots in the opening 60 minutes of the match.
BAYERN MUNICH SUBS! A couple more changes made by Ancelotti as we head into the final quarter of this friendly. Goalscorer Lewandowski and a lively Rodriguez make way for Pantovic and Wintzheimer - a chance for some of the fringe players to impress.
I make that five changes made by Ancelotti so far and six by Wenger. The intensity levels have dropped considerably over the last 10 minutes, so expect the managers to continue changing their personnel over the remaining 22 minutes.
A little over 39,000 in attendance this afternoon - far from full capacity. Neither side able to create anything since Alaba tested Cech from a 30-yard free kick shortly after the hour mark. Petering out a little, unfortunately!
ARSENAL SUBS! A couple of more changes now for Arsenal - Nketiah, who we saw in Sydney, coming on for Welbeck in attack; Martinez replaces Cech in goal. Ospina and Malen now the only two Gunners players yet to feature in pre-season.
BAYERN MUNICH SUBS! Little chance for this game to burst into life due to the sheer number of subs. Bayern's latest alterations sees Friedl and Gotze come on for Ribery and Rafinha. Outgoing Ribery has been superb this afternoon.
Certainly a good run out for both sets of players. The first 60 minutes or so of the match were enjoyable, with Bayern the team on top but both creating chances, though since then we have seen very little action in the final third at either end.
SAVE! A rare second-half attempt from an Arsenal player, as Walcott curls a shot on target for youngster Christian Fruchtl to comfortably keep out - his first serious involvement in the match since being introduced at the break.
We are now into the final 10 minutes of this pre-season friendly clash. A rather disappointing second half in truth, with the humidity clearly playing a part in the contest petering out. Arsenal heading for a first defeat of the summer.
Arsenal seeing their fair share of the ball but they have not done enough with it. Wenger has at least had a chance to see his side up against some of the best players on the continent, so no shame if this one does finish in a 1-0 loss.
YELLOW CARD! Second-half sub Joe Willock becomes the latest player to be shown a yellow card - the referee clearly not in the mood to be leinient. Alaba with half a chance but he fails to make contact with his audacious flick.
Arsenal face Chelsea in a few days' time, remember, while AC Milan await Bayern later this week. The International Champions Cup provides these sides a great chance to test themselves against the best ahead of the new campaign.
Final couple of minutes of normal time now at the Shanghai Stadium, where the scoreline does not look likely to change. Bayern dominant in the first half but they have struggled to create much at all in the second 45 minutes.
Bernat with some great trickery to get the beating of Maitland-Niles, who has lasted the full 90 minutes and redeemed himself somewhat after a tricky first half. Far from being a 5-1, Wenger will not be all that displeased with what he has seen today.
GOAL! BAYERN MUNICH 1-1 ARSENAL (ALEX IWOBI)
Incredible! From pretty much the last act of the match, Ramsey crosses for Iwobi and the wideman headed the ball home. Far from deserved, in truth, but Arsenal have a well-earned goal at the death to take the game the distance.
FULL TIME: BAYERN MUNICH 1-1 ARSENAL
BAYERN MUNICH 0-0 ARSENAL (DAVID ALABA MISSES)
BAYERN MUNICH 0-1 ARSENAL (AARON RAMSEY SCORES)
BAYERN MUNICH 1-1 ARSENAL (MATS HUMMELS SCORES)
BAYERN MUNICH 1-1 ARSENAL (MOHAMED ELNENY MISSES)
BAYERN MUNICH 2-1 ARSENAL (KINGSLEY COMAN SCORES)
BAYERN MUNICH 2-2 ARSENAL (NACHO MONREAL SCORES)
BAYERN MUNICH 2-2 ARSENAL (RENATO SANCHES MISSES)
BAYERN MUNICH 2-3 ARSENAL (ALEX IWOBI SCORES)
BAYERN MUNICH 2-3 ARSENAL (JUAN BERNAT MISSES)
RESULT! ARSENAL WIN 3-2 ON PENALTIES
So there we have it! Arsenal win 3-2 on penalties in Shanghai, despite being second best pretty much all afternoon. Bayern Munich took the lead through Robert Lewandowski, but Alex Iwobi
nodded home in added time to take the match the distance. That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events in the Far East, though be sure to stick around as a match report and reaction will follow shortly.