Wenger’s Post-Bayern Press Conference

Q: How do you reflect on the game?
A: “We played against a good team, who took advantage of every opportunity they created in the first half. We had the first 5 minutes quite a good start, but after you could see that we were a bit nervous but Bayern were fully confident and we paid for it. At 2-0 down of course it became very difficult. We put in a good battle in the second half and came back to 2-1, it looked like we could come back to 2-2. Unfortunately we conceded another goal and the 3-1 was a big blow for the team, and from that moment on you could see that we could even concede one more because we did not keep our structure any more. The last 10 minutes were difficult once it was 3-1. As much as it was 2-1 it looked like possibly becoming 2-2. At 3-1 it looked more like we could concede another one.”

Q: How do you rate your chances in the second-leg?
A: “Lets not hide the truth, it will be extremely difficult against a team of that quality. They didn’t played 2 finals in the last 3 years without that quality that we have seen tonight. We have to give our best there and hope that everything will go for us and hope that until the second-leg we have build up our confidence a bit more to go in to the game with the belief that will be needed.”

Q: Were you expecting a better response after the weekend?

A: “I think we had a good response today, that the players gave absolutely everything. We played against a side who has no doubt at all. They have a history over the last 6 months where everything is positive and that you could see as well, that every player is confident to play with full power, full confidence, it’s not completely our case at the moment. Things change sometimes quickly in three weeks, so lets hope we will manage to do it.”

Q: Was the overriding thing tonight, your teams lack of confidence?
A: “No, you have to give them credit for their class as well. I believe they are a team of class you know, in patches in the first half there was a difference of quality in their display compared to ours. In the second-half I believe we were close, and you could feel we were becoming dangerous but after that they changed, they became much more defensive and played on counter-attack and it was difficult for us to create chances.”

Q: How do you explain the poor defending?
A: “I feel we were a bit nervous, we wanted to do well. They are good going forward on both flanks with their full backs. I feel Lahm and Alaba were outstanding tonight, going forward, when they won the ball every time they created a lot of danger on the flanks and it was very difficult for the defenders. Sometimes we were a bit outnumbered because we had to push forward a lot. They are a quality side and you have to acknowledge that and give them credit for it.”

Q: How do you stop the recurring theme of nerves?
A: “Well, that’s a very difficult question to answer at the moment. As I told you, the results bring that, it’s a bit a viscous circle, you know.”

Q: Your anger yesterday cause a lot of debate about you and the club.
A: “My anger yesterday was not based on opinions, was based on information. For me you have two missions. One is to give your opinion, and secondly to inform people. When you give wrong information without checking with us, I am angry because I feel that’s disrespectful. When you give your opinion, I will always accept it. I work for here for 16 years, I never, never, disputed any opinion of you. When you give wrong information, for me you cheat the guy who buys the newspaper. That’s why I was angry. You know I work here for 16 years, that you could check with the club, you could check with me, before you give any information out. Because if I read any information in your newspaper, I expect it to be true. That was the wrong information and that’s why I was angry, and I think I’m entitled to do that. If you say, you can say anything about your opinion about the football game, I accept it, I never said you can’t say I’m a bad manager, but when you give a wrong information I don’t accept it.”

Q: Do you think you need to by some new defenders?
A: “Is that an information? Or an opinion? I just, think, that our defenders are quality, and the transfer market is closed. That’s an information.”

Q: You did say ‘we have to make a good start’?
A: “Yeah, but at that level, I think as well Bayern is a quality side that can beat anybody in Europe. Then on top of that we lack a bit confidence. Like at the moment, we make them even better.”

Q: Is getting back into the Champions League, more important than staying in it?
A: “Look, we will have two battles. Maybe the easier battle will be to back in the Champions League, but we have to give absolutely everything to try and change everything in the second leg.”

Q: How did you encourage the players at half-time?
A: “It happened to us before to be 2-0, that’s one of the positive things that happened before. To be 2-0 down then that we changed and reversed things you know. So of course, we could have examples of moments where were 2-0 then came back to 2-2.”

Arsenal’s Misery Deepens, As Bayern Show Champion Credentials

Wenger's Woes Continue

It was always going to be a tough game for the Gunners, facing a Bayern side who had reached 2 out of the last 3 Champions League Finals and improved their squad significantly since. A disappointing performance from Arsenal served to highlight every weakness that has been present for some time now.

On the back of an embarrassing defeat to Blackburn, it was expected Arsenal would come out fighting with something to prove, resembling the strong mental character that Wenger always claims to be present. Unfortunately, quite the opposite is true, and another abysmal start to the game saw Arsenal 2-0 down after 20 minutes. It’s such a common theme this term it’s becoming ridiculous. How mentally fragile must these players be?

Surely they must think by now, we need to come out and play at our best, give our all, and at the very least the fans will appreciate our effort and commitment to the cause. We have nothing to lose? By hiding in their shells, playing with nerves and blaming each other at every opportunity the bad starts will just continue. Talk about not learning from your mistakes. This isn’t the Arsenal way.

We’ve been 2-0 down to City, Chelsea, Liverpool and now Bayern, before really get into the game, just in the last month and half alone. Is it Wenger? It’s the manager’s job to keep them psychologically strong. Perhaps all his talk about psychological strength is making them doubt they have any? Maybe it is just the players? Maybe they’re fine until they get out there when Wenger can do no more.

As usual, we came out fighting in the second-half. Playing with a bit of freedom. But it was too little, too late. Getting a goal back quickly through Podolski was a great start to the second-half, but a shame we couldn’t do that in the first-half.

Bayern were happy to contain our possession and pressure us when we moved into their final third, before hitting us on the counter-attack. With us failing to create any real chances, and squandering the ones we did, it’s little surprise that with Bayern’s quality they were able to get a third and seal the victory, if not the tie.

Early on it seemed we were in the game, Cazorla was in space out on the right, but a poor cross saw that move over as quickly as it had started. Minutes later we had a corner that Neuer missed as he came out to get it, but unfortunately for us, everyone else missed it as well.

Seconds later, we lost the ball in our own half and Bayern were free down the right putting in a scuffed cross which came to the edge of the area, missed by Ramsey, the only player remotely close. Mertesacker was slow to react like usual, and it fell to Kroos who put it away into the right hand side of the goal. Szczesny couldn’t do much, you have to look at the shocking defending primarily. But a keeper of Neuer’s calibre may have saved it, you’d think. You can’t give a man that much time and space to slot it away though, it’s defending basics.

The fans were now silenced, after another poor start. Previously, everyone was optimistic and loud and enthusiastic. This killed it off somewhat, and the second goal on 20 minutes left even those who still held high hope doubting everything. A corner that wasn’t dealt with always spells disaster against Arsenal. Foremost, what is Mertesacker doing, why is not attacking the ball? A free header with no pressure, Szczesny saves, but straight to Muller a yard from goal and it was in. Unacceptable for Champions League Knock-out football.

Half-time boos were out again.

Arsenal came out fighting in the second-half, a quick goal from Podolski from a corner after a mistake by the usually excellent Neuer meant Arsenal were back in it. A host of possession and a couple of chances, but no goals.

Giroud and Rosicky came on for the poor performing Ramsey and Podolski who don’t seem to be suited to this high-level, obviously why Podolski never made it at Bayern.

Rosicky showed himself as the only one with real signs of creativity through some great passing. Don’t get me wrong, Jack was brilliant as usual, great runs, great commitment, but Tomas’ passes are exquisite.

A memorable long ball to Walcott, who controlled and crossed well, in a game where he gave very little, found Giroud who hit it perfectly first-time, but found Neuer rather than the goal. A shame he couldn’t produce a usual blunder, or scuff, that would have gone awkwardly in.

The failure to score meant we were still 2-1 down, and a side as good as Bayern are always going to get chances. Our defence was much weaker than there’s and exposed several times. In the 77th minute, they would grab a third from a cross along the floor that really should have been dealt with before it reached the far post.

Bayern had just 42% possession, but were happy to contain our non-penetrative passing until they decided to press collectively and win the ball before hitting us on the counter. Our failure to create chances from our predictable, slow-paced football, meant we could only muster 10 shots to their 17, despite our domination of possession.

Sometimes you have to put your hands up and say, Bayern were the better team, we lost fair and square. This is certainly one of those times. But what hurts the most, is not that we lost to a side who are one of the favourites to win the competition, but that our performance was so lacklustre, so uninspiring, so dispassionate, and so uncommitted. By everyone, except Jack Wilshere. You’d expect a response from the weekend but it everyone was despondent. It’s a crying shame. There are issues at Arsenal that go several levels deep. Every level.

A few years ago, we weren’t winning trophies, but I was much happier. We were competing, we had that passion, we had a lot more desire. I felt like we could challenge for every trophy, that we were a few good signings away from winning everything when we had Fabregas, Van Persie, Nasri, Song, playing alongside Jack Wilshere, a Vermaelen and Sagna who were two of the best in the league. We used to moan just about the defence, but now it’s like a virus that has spread everywhere. Now I don’t feel like we can compete for anything. It hurts to be an Arsenal fan right now, I can’t see an end to this torture with the current set-up. Major changes are needed.

Hopefully the players can pick themselves up and put in some performances, no one’s going to do it for them. I can’t bear to see us lost to Spurs.