Right Choice, Bad Choice: Arsenal 0 – 2 Bayern Munich – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Arsenal 0 – 2 Bayern Munich

Arsenal’s biggest test of the season was upon them. World beaters Bayern Munich were in town to kick off the two-leg Champions League knock-out fixture, and the pressure was on both teams to perform. [quote_right]”It was all going swimmingly, until Wilshere played in Ozil in the box in the ninth minute, who turned beautifully into space, drawing a foul in the process…”[/quote_right]

The first half was an absolute rollercoaster.

Arsenal started the game brilliantly. Ozil, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ox and even Sanogo were looking lively on the ball, bringing it forward, running at players and winning battles.

It was all going swimmingly, until Wilshere played in Ozil in the box in the ninth minute, who turned beautifully into space, drawing a foul in the process. Mesut stood up to take the penalty, with Arteta and Giroud out of the team. The penalty was tame, with little direction, allowing Nueur to parry.

After the penalty miss, Arsenal’s performance levels dropped. Ozil, who had started so well, was less influential, whilst Bayern picked up the pace in return.

Chances cam and went for both sides, with Bayern looking slightly better as the game went on – until the thirty-eighth minute.

Kroos played a stunning ball over the top for Robben, who touched the ball wide of the post as he rose to meet it. Szczesney though, came out to meet him, clipping his shins as the ball bounced wide. The referee brandished a red.

Fabianski came on for Cazorla to face Alaba from the spot, and the left-back thankfully missed the second penalty of the match, rattling his effort off the post.

The whistle blew minutes later, with both teams missing a penalty each, and Arsenal missing a man.[quote_left]”The referee made the right call according to the rule books – but at the same time, he made an awful call.[/quote_left]

Bayern ensured the opening few minutes of the second half weren’t pretty for Arsenal fans. The Gunners were being pegged back by stylish, aggressive play, and it took just nine minutes to get a goal.

After some tight passing, Lahm played the ball across the outside of the area to Kroos, who struck it with perfection, curling it into the top corner. It was unstoppable.

The game continued on in a similar fashion. The Gunners just didn’t seem to have the numbers, legs or confidence to make anything happen.

Three minutes from time, Bayern turned the screw. Substitute Muller made a great run to get on the end of another Lahm cross, where he headed past Fabianski with ease. It was game over for Arsenal.

The final whistle soon blew, and The Gunners were now set to be faced with another year of Champions League disappointment at the Allianz Arena. Szczesney’s red card was the obvious turning point. The referee made the right call according to the rule books – but at the very same time, he made an awful call.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Sczesney: [6.5/10]

Made a brilliant save from Kroos in the third minute to keep him out, and was technically correctly red carded. The rules make it a red – but that doesn’t mean the rules are perfect. In fact, this game is another example of how the rules don’t always work. Game ruined by the red.

Sagna: [7/10]

Bacary worked hard today, and he was up against come of the best. We needed him to keep a calm head in the second half, and focus on defending.That’s exactly what he did.

Mertesacker: [7.5/10]

Per read the game well as usual, and made a number of hugely important blocks to keep Bayern out. Kept things steady in the second half, when it was needed.

Koscielny: [9/10] – MOTM

What a performance. He won header after header, made challenge after challenge, and had passion in his eyes from start to finish. Made an inspiring little run past the half-way line in the second half to try and help attack, to no avail. Well played Laurent.

Gibbs: [7.5/10]

An immaculate half hour from Kieran, before injury struck. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious. Dealt well with Robben and Lahm, and even dispossed the experienced German to start a good attack shortly before going off.

Flamini: [7/10]

Had to put in a big, organised shift today, and he did just that. Kept the midfield tight, helped coordinate Arsenal’s defences in the second half, and was almost always in the right place at the right time. Except for Muller’s goal, where he was at fault for not keeping a closer eye on the run.

The Ox: [7/10] 

Like the rest of Arsenal’s midfield, he started well, but wilted as the game went on. The second half was no playground for Arsenal;s creatives, and The Ox suffered as a result. Subbed.

Cazorla: [7/10]

Started well, got involved in most attacks, and looked sharp. Had to be replaced early on by Fabianksi though, in what I felt was the right call.

Wilshere: [7.5/10]

Jack was battling and working all game in the middle of the park, up against staunch opposition. The second half would have been difficult for any midfielder, but Jack helped Flamini hold the backline as firm as possible against Bayern’s world-class offenses. Poor final ball all game though.

Ozil: [6.5/10] 

In the opening nine minutes, Mesut was looking dangerous again. He was making great runs, passing well, and looked confident. He won his penalty beautifully – but it was all down hill from there. A poor penalty resulted in a confidence zapping onslaught from Bayern. following Szcesney’s red card, Ozil was pretty much playing left back with Monreal. Hardly his preferred position. Suffered as a result.

Sanogo: [7.5/10]

Cannot fault him. What a game to come into, but what a very good performance he gave anyway. Yaya showed some excellent touches, great feet in tight situations, and even a pinpoint perfect final ball. Definitely excited to see more of him.

Subs:

Fabianski: [7/10]

Could do nothing for either of the goals. Made some good stops on other occasions though, and his distribution was solid.

Monreal: [6/10]

Robben and Lahm gave him the run around, but in fairness he only ever had Cazorla and Ozil as protection. Made some very poor clearances too though.

Rosicky: [N/A]

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[title]Right Choice, Bad Choice[/title]

Right. Let’s get right into it. Was it a red card, “by the book”? Yes. Does that make it a “good” decision? Most certainly not.

What the hell am I on about?

The fault lies with the lack of flexibility around these rules. By the book, it’s a red card. But referees must take more factors into consideration. Where has the ball gone? Can Robben still humanly reach it? Was it dangerous? Is a red card truly necessary in such a big match, at such an early stage?

These are simple questions, with logical answers. Unfortunately, the referee applied no logic to his decision, and ruined the game in the process. So the question isn’t about the rules, since they are clear. The question is why referees desert logic and reason when applying these rules.

Nevertheless, we are now two away-goals down, with our morale back down in the gutter. The next step to recovery is simple – beating Sunderland at home this Saturday.

Image: Arsenal

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