Arsenal 1 - 3 Bayern Munich
As the enormous pressure from the FA Cup defeat against Blackburn mounted, Arsenal reluctantly welcomed Bayern Munich to the Emirates Stadium. The German giants had been rampant in the Bunderliga all season, and were looking to make quick work of an unconfident, out-of-form Arsenal side. And they did just that.
The opening five minutes were dominated by an excited Arsenal side. Our passing was tidy, and we looked confident enough to maintain our composure in front of goal, if only we could get ourselves in such a position.[quote_right]“In the twenty-first minute, Arsenal’s night went from awful to mind-numbingly painful…”[/quote_right]
However, in the sixth minute, Arsenal’s entire season continued it’s nose dive.
The ball was crossed to an unmarked Toni Kroos on the edge of the area, who volleyed his effort into the ground. Mertesacker reacted too slowly, and the ball fizzed past Szczesney, and Arsenal were undone. An away goal shipped in a matter of minutes.
The Gunner’s exuberant start immediately lost it’s shine. Bayern Munich began to grow into the game, and our midfield was falling apart at the seams. Arteta & Cazorla in particular seemed nervous, and were having trouble keeping possession. This left Theo Walcott completely isolated up top.
In the twenty-first minute, Arsenal’s night went from awful to mind-numbingly painful. Munich whipped in a near-post corner, which was flicked on by Mandzukic. Szczesney parried, but yet again, his save was pointless. The ball ended up less than a yard away from him, and Muller had no problems tucking it away. Arsenal had conceded two away goals in twenty minutes. It was already game over.
Arsenal now looked hopeless. Rash challenges, misplaced passes, and poor defensive organisation plagued the Arsenal team. Despite getting his tactics all wrong, Arsene Wenger simply sat, and watched.
The remain=der of the half was unremarkable. Bayern knew they had basically won the tie, and although it pains me to say it, so did Arsenal. Chances were few and far between, and the atmosphere in the Emirates was epitomised by the boos at the half time whistle.
The second half saw vague improvements made by Arsenal. They re-started the game with shades of determination, passing the ball more calmly. Bayern Munich however, remained unphased.
In the fifty-fifth minute, Lukas Podolski offered Arsenal a distant glimmer of hope. A poorly defended corner, which ironically shouldn’t have been given, was missed by Bayern Munich’s defence and goalkeeper, allowing Podolski to nod the ball into an open net.[quote_left]“Booming boos from home fans filled the Emirates Stadium at full-time. Arsenal’s season, the club’s future in European football, and perhaps Arsene Wenger’s job now all hang in the balance.”[/quote_left]
For patches after Podolski’s goal, Arsenal looked like they could mount a comeback. But as time ticked on, Wenger yet again refused to make changes. It took him until after the seventy minute mark to finally throw on Giroud & Rosicky for the hapless Ramsey and Podolski. Both of whom were on yellow cards.
The changes made an immediate impact, nobodies surprise except Arsene Wenger. Rosicky played a remarkable ball to Walcott on the wing, who crossed to Giroud. The Frenchman’s volley was directed right at Neuer, but the move itself was fantastic.
But it was too little, too late for Arsenal. In the seventy seventh minute, Poor tracking back from Cazorla allowed Lahm to cross for Mandzukic. The ball ricocheted off Sagna, back on to Mandzukic, and into Szczesney’s goal. Now it really was game over.
The remainder of the game was muted. Arsenal were resigned to defeat, beaten by both the might of Bayern Munich, and the awful tactics of their own manager, Arsene Wenger.
Booming boos from home fans filled the Emirates Stadium at full-time. Arsenal’s season, the club’s future in European football, and perhaps Arsene Wenger’s job now all hang in the balance.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Terrible distribution throughout the game, and another poor save leading to Muller’s goal. He was also very weak when coming for crosses. Doesn’t seem to be able to hold on to the ball anymore.
Bacary hasn’t had the greatest of seasons, but today was much better from him. Kept Ribery quiet, made some good tackles, and helped out offensively all game. Unlucky not to prevent Bayern’s third.
Despite being under a lot of pressure, Koscielny remained calm all game. He made timely challenges and won important headers.
Per gave the ball away dangerously in the first half, and was too slow to close down Kroos for the opening goal. Looked nervous all game, and his passing was untidy in general.
The armband on his arm is the only indication of any leadership. Hapless defending, toothless wing-play. Had tough opposition, but should have dealt with attacks far better than he did. Our weakest link in defence.
Mikel was out of position on many occasions, and was quite poor defensively for the entire game. Questions can be asked about his whereabouts for Kroos’ volley, and his passing was lacking in quality at times. However, he kept possession in pressurised circumstances, and did his best to feed Wilshere.
Most players grow into games, Ramsey grows out of them. He started off well enough, getting into good positions and attacking well. But as the game went on, his tackles became rash and his passing became terrible. Replaced by Rosicky.
MOTM. Despite getting my MOTM award, Jack really couldn’t muster anything up of any value. He was isolated for much of the game, and Bayern did a good job of closing him down. However, as always, he worked hard, and looked our brightest spark. Perhaps our only spark.
As I’ve pointed out before, teams who have big, intimidating players, eat Cazorla for breakfast. And that’s exactly what happened. Santi delivered hospital balls all game, and constantly jumped out of the way of oncoming Bayern players. Not strong enough, not hungry enough.
Largely out of the game, but Lukas did well to get his goal. He, much like Walcott & Wilshere, was being marked out of the game, and thus barely had any of the ball. Replaced by Giroud.
Hardly touched the ball, but did well when he did. Dante and Van Buyten were keeping a close eye on Theo, and he had no joy whilst upfront. He played far better when put out on the wing, and delivered a great cross to Giroud.
Had limited time, but almost grabbed a good goal via a volley. Unfortunately, Nueur was well positioned. Did well to win a header or two, both offensively and defensively.
Had limited time, but played a sublime ball to Walcott in the build up to Giroud’s volley. How Ramsey starts ahead of Rosicky is beyond me.
Yet another trophy-less season befalls Arsenal. Unless of course, you count top four as a trophy. In which case, I still may have a point. Arsenal were yet again, gutless. No desire, and certainly no ‘mental strengths’. Bayern Munich simply outclassed us, and Wenger’s stubborn, one-dimensional tactics, made it only too easy for the German juggernauts.
Arsenal now have no choice but to throw everything at finishing at least fourth. March will be a tough month, so it;s important we pick up all three points against Aston Villa this Saturday.
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