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.