After a spring of uncertainty and desperate for a little stability, Arsenal has reached an agreement with Bundesliga side Bayern Munich that will see the Gunners automatically meet with – and lose to – Bayern in the quarterfinals of next year’s Champions League.
“It just seemed to make a whole lot of sense,” said Arsenal Chairman Sir Chips Keswick, who signed the agreement in London with his German counterpart, Bayern President Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “We know how the draw’s going to go, and we know what the result will ultimately be. Why not just schedule it now?”
The Gunners have faced — and lost to — Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 of the 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2016-17 Champions Leagues, and faced them in the group stages in 2015-16 where they split results, Bayern topping the group.
While this new agreement still sees Arsenal flame out of the competition at the hands of their German rivals, Keswick was quick to note that he was able to negotiate the loss in the quarterfinals, not the Round of 16. “A little extra glory suits us at Arsenal quite well,” he reiterated. “It’s almost like a trophy!”
Under the agreement, Arsenal will battle valiantly at the Emirates Stadium in the first leg and earn a come-from-behind 1-1 draw, but agrees to enter into the return fixture at the Allianz Arena completely out of their depth. The Gunners will limp to a comprehensive 3-1 defeat (goals by Lewandowski, Alaba, and Renato Sanchez), exiting the tournament on a respectable 4-2 aggregate. An addendum also requires significant injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott no later than three days before the second leg.
“Sure, we’ll lose the match, but we’ll gain the ability to plan during a congested spring of football,” said manager Arsene Wenger. “This way we’ll be able to rotate to achieve our goal of fourth place in the Premier League. Really, if you think about it, this loss is a win-win.”
Should Arsenal qualify for the Europa League, the agreement will carry over until the following season.
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