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Bayern 5-1 Arsenal: Champions League Ends for Gunners

The briefest flicker of hope that Arsenal could manifest success this season was vanquished in nine brutal second half minutes, as Bayern ruthlessly exposed the Gunners wounds.

Six attempts to navigate past the first knockout stage in Europe’s premiere competition now looks to extend to seven years, after the Germans efficiently maximised the gaping hole in the Arsenal backline to effectively end the Gunners hopes once again.

With our squad the strongest it has been in many a year, the disappointing nature of our exits in recent years would not hold sway this season. We expected to hold our own against the giants of Munich. We had every right to expect a close battle.

We got just that in the first half. The home side expectedly dominated possession, and were enjoying the home support as they sprayed balls around merrily. Arsenal stuck gamely to their task though. David Ospina was tested early but in the eleventh minute, Arsenal’s cup keeper could do nothing to stop Bayern taking the lead.

Arjen Robben – the winger who comes with a script that all defenders fail to read – cut in and let rip from outside the box. His effort was sumptuous and it arced into the top corner to reward his side for their possession.

The game continued in the same vein. Ancelotti’s side probing and passing and Wenger’s team attempting to break up their play. They slowly became more active on proceedings, and in the thirtieth minute, Arsenal had a precious away goal.

Laurent Koscielny was first to a loose ball after a set-piece, and Mats Hummels attempt to get the ball was a second slower than the French defender. The referee pointed to the spot, and Alexis stepped up to take it.

Alexis had been the architect of Arsenal’s best moments and he struck the penalty low, but Manuel Neuer was equal to it. He parried it out and Alexis was there to at least regain possession. To all it looked as if the chance had been lost, but under pressure, he swivelled to shoot low and into the goal.

A huge goal. This could have swung the tie, and although Bayern had a few chances before half time, Arsenal had done so well to stay with them. 

The second half was a different story.

Laurent Koscielny had been a busy man and when he was forced off through injury, the sight of Gabriel taking his place would have sent an ice-cold chill through all Gooners. The Brazilian has a reputation for rashness, and the first nine minutes of his cameo would see Arsenal’s Euro dreams die for another year.

The three goals were not solely on Gabriel’s shoulders I hasten to add, but the facts speak for themselves. Three minutes after coming on, Robert Lewandowski had his customary goal – his 24th in 30 games so far this campaign – by outleaping Shkodran Mustafi who was caught under the leaping Pole.

Another three minutes, and Bayern had three. Lewandowski turned provider, as he dropped off and dragged Gabriel with him. The space left by Gabriel was taken up by Thiago, who ran in unopposed to pick up the striker’s backheel and finish low past Ospina.

Three minutes again passed, and another goal ended all hope. It was Thiago again, and his shot from outside the box came through a throng of players. It took a nick from Granit Xhaka and it hurtled past a stricken David Ospina who had been deceived by the deflection.

The gulf between the sides was apparent now. Bayern had upped the gears and Arsenal looked absolutely shellshocked.

The rest of the half saw the home team look to further embarrass Wenger and his side. Repeated chances came to them, but Ospina was the only man who looked to have any fight left in him.

The painful ending came though, as second half sub Thomas Muller grabbed the fifth which means Arsenal once again need a miracle to escape the Last16. Familiar territory.

Here are some observations from the game which appeared telling:

Our defence needs Koscielny

After Laurent went off, we capitulated. It was perhaps the most emphatic evidence of what he brings to our team. Mustafi looked bewildered without his partner, and Gabriel has shown no improvement from when he first joined. Of course, these are not regular partners, but there can be no excuses after this. At some point, it is just not good enough. Debuchy would’ve been better than Gabriel.

Ozil a passenger

The German playmakers form shows no sign of returning. His touch was errant and his ability to pick out a run was absent again. His effort was there and he ran plenty, but the reason why we bought him is not for his stamina. Worrying signs, and we will need him back to his best if we are to finish above tottenham.

Coquelin and Xhaka were easily bossed.

The central midfield area was dominated by Bayern, and at times the resistance was not present. Xhaka was outnumbered and Coquelin was not at the races. The Frenchman at his best is one of the best ball-winners around, but he is severely limited. Our central midfield options all of a sudden look barren.

Alexis and his sulking 

The Chilean was our best player for the majority, but his demanding, gesticulating and tantrums are becoming old and trying on the patience. We understand how he wants to win, how we wants the ball. When it doesn’t happen though, his reactions are not the sign of a player who is happy with things. If we are to progress, he is vital. Can any of us say with any confidence that he will stay after another season of underwhelming results?

Arsene’s pattern

This game is where Arsene’s errors came to the fore with no excuses left. The squad is strong, injuries were not a huge factor, and we had home advantage in the second leg. When are we able to expect to challenge with the higher echelons? Arsene may have been let down by his team at times, but a large portion of the pointing finger must fall on Wenger. He looked dejected at the final whistle, but we came up short yet again. Our limitations are there for all to see. It is painful to see, but Wenger must realise that this squad he has selected over the years, is simply underachieving. 

I am not writing any more about this game. It feels like a watershed moment. Something has to give.  This depressing exit was on the cards before a ball was kicked as we had seen it before. Many times.

Some may blame the board. Some may blame the players and some blame Wenger. Regardless of who is the main culprit – this is not good enough.

Bayern Munich Vs Arsenal – The Warm-Up

The Champions League returns once more, and the test in front of Arsenal is an imposing one.

Can the Gunners buck the trend for exiting the Champions League at the Last16 stage and beat one of the favourites for the Euro title in the process?

Arsenal have played the German giants ten times in total and won three of them. The Gunners have also been dumped out of Europe’s premier competition twice in the last four seasons by Munich too. The task ahead is a big one.

Arsenal at least have some returning personnel to boost them ahead of the game. Granit Xhaka saw out the last of his four game suspension in the weekend, but would have been part of the squad regardless as his ban applied to domestic football only. Mohamed Elneny was on the bench for the Hull game four days ago and is also in the reckoning. It is in this position that Wenger has his biggest headache. 

Does he stick with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has impressed in his stint in the middle? Or does he go to the Allianz Arena with a defensive mindset? It will be vital to restrict Bayern in attack as they could well make the second leg at The Emirates redundant by romping this game. It can also be said that an away goal could prove decisive too. 

Whoever lines up in the centre, there are other positions that require a decision. 

Alex Iwobi has emerged as the first choice on the left when Alexis plays as the striker. His defensive element needs refining though. Can we afford to leave the door open on a flank? Danny Welbeck will be champing at the bit to make his mark, and his tracking back would give him a huge advantage over Iwobi.

Lucas Perez is another who has done wonders in order to get named on the teamsheet, but it looks as though the Spaniard will again start on the bench. Mesut Ozil has been searching for form over the last few games, but is there a better time to rise to prominence than this match? He is capable of unlocking a Bayern side who have not lost a game since November, so fingers crossed we see the real Ozil.

Petr Cech looked to have returned to his imperious best against Hull, but David Ospina will more than likely retain his position as Cup Keeper. He will have to be on the form which repelled countless PSG attacks in our earlier group match against the French side if we are to escape Munich with hopes intact.
Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti has his talisman Xabi Alonso back after he returned to training recently, but Franck Ribery and Jerome Boateng are out through injury. Javi Martinez and Mats Hummels will be the in the centre of defence for the home side, and the midfield has an embarrassment of riches to pick from. Joshua Kimmich, Arturo Vidal, Arjen Robben and Thiago Alcantara are just some who may be lining up against the Gunners.

A multi-faceted attack with composure in possession, Bayern will stretch our limits. We have enough in our weapon rack to hurt them, but it is hard to envision sometimes when you take into consideration our woeful form. 

It is high time that we started to show that it isn’t just the Deloitte Money list that we are amongst the elite. We have the resources and the players to be contenders in this competition, but our record has not shown this for some time.

With no Premier League fixtures and an FA Cup match in the weekend that should allow rotation, we can afford to go all out for the 90 minutes. Let us hope our quickness of play returns and so does our form. A good result here could spark our season into life.
Predicted Lineup: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis.

Predicted Scoreline: To hell with realism. I say 2-1 to Arsenal. 

Bayern Munich 5 – 1 Arsenal – Match Review ( A Painful Reminder )

Two weeks ago, the corresponding fixture at The Emirates saw a measured performance from Arsenal to take all three points and allow fans a little hope of escaping the group stages.

It seems that the Gunners riled the German giants into dishing out some retribution.

Continue reading Bayern Munich 5 – 1 Arsenal – Match Review ( A Painful Reminder )

Bayern Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Arsene Wenger’s men return to Champions League action on the back of one of their most impressive European results in recent years.

Their 2-0 win at The Emirates showed a defence who can withhold immense pressure despite what critics claim, and an attack that was opportunistic and efficient.

The problem is, the Gunners next opponents are the very same who were humbled in that match – and they will be looking for revenge.

Continue reading Bayern Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Arsenal Vs Bayern Match Review – A Night To Remember. 

The negativity surrounding Arsenal’s Champions League campaign is understandable. Two defeats from two matches is enough for fans to be reaching for the white flag – but when the opposition is of the calibre of Dynamo Zagreb and Olympiacos – then it could be justified for Gooners to consign this seasons European to simply hoping that Arsenal don’t finish third and therefore drop into the Europa League.

A 2-0 win was as far removed from what was expected and to a man, the Arsenal team played their roles perfectly and breathed new life into their Champions League campaign with a victory that will be remembered for quite some time, especially given the calibre of the opponent.

Continue reading Arsenal Vs Bayern Match Review – A Night To Remember.