4 Talking Points From Arsenal’s 2-0 Defeat To Bayern Munich

By on February 20, 2014

Arsenal slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie. Here, Gunner333 gives us four thoughts on the game.

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain

After scraping through to the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday, Arsenal welcomed arguably Europe’s finest to the Emirates in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern Munich overhauled the Gunners exactly a year ago with a 3-1 victory, so we were hoping to go one better this time around. Wenger stuck with Sanogo up-front in place of Giroud, whilst it was tough to see a weakness in a Bayern side which had lost just once in their last 49 games.

The atmosphere was electric and Arsenal were looking eager to deny the Bavarians the chance to open early on.  Koscielny and Mertesacker’s stability at the back forced Bayern to create a chance from distance, with Kroos unleashing a screamer which drew a divine save from Szczesny.

In a surprising turn of events, it was Arsenal who held the upper-hand, seeing far more of the ball but keeping strong at the back and then creating the first big chance of the game. Wilshere slipping the ball beyond the Bayern defence to Özil whose ‘Cruyff’ turn eluded Boateng, who tripped his fellow compatriot in the box. Penalty given.

An exceptional opportunity for Arsenal to take the lead against the current holders. Özil stepped up but was denied as his soft penalty was kept out by the trailing hand of Neuer. Devastation for Wenger’s men, who missed the chance to take a golden opportunity.

With both sides playing at a very high intensity, world-class defending came to fruition. Each Bayern burst blunted by the ever-reliable French-German partnership at the back.

Guardiola’s side were throwing everything in their barracks at the Gunners and it eventually looked to have paid off. Robben found space in a pocket behind the defence, Szczesny forced to commit himself. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot, but caused up-roar when he sent the Pole packing with a red card.

Horrific scenes for an Arsenal team which looked the better up to now. Cazorla was taken off to make way for the sub-keeper , Lukasz Fabianski. Young full-back David Alaba was dealt the task of grabbing the opener from the spot but miraculously, his effort hit the post and cannoned out of play.

The first half provided plenty of excitement but no goals to show for it. Arsenal now faced the Herculean task of keeping out the German Champions, who had an extra man.

Both teams attempted to come out on the front-foot in the second half. Bayern drawing first blood as Kroos fired from Monreal’s miss-directed clearance, but it was a comfortable one for Fabianski.

The away side then exhibited a seldom-seen lack of discipline, loosening their tab of Koscielny who broke clean, only to hit a soft shot held by Neuer. The German keeper looking impossible to break down.

Next arose the moment all Gooners were dreading. Nearly an hour of holding strong and Guardiola’s men found the breakthrough. Arsenal pushed deeper and deeper, which supplied Toni Kroos with space. The German unravelled an absolute belter to put Arsenal in their place, a real statement of intent from one of the world’s best.

From here Arsenal seemed to switch off and were completely out-played by a confident Bayern side. Pass-after-pass causing the Gunners to slip ever closer to complete oblivion.  Munich setting up camp in the Arsenal half, with Müller, Robben and Götze all forcing chances which could end it all for the home side.

Dying moments of the game and Arsenal looked to have held on to some hope, heading to Munich. Instead they loosened their defensive grip and allowed Müller space in the area to pounce with a header. The substitute making it 2-0 to Munich.

Tough times for Arsenal who had remained in the clash up to this point. Signs of Bayern’s ruthlessness and quality, as we head to Munich hoping to over-turn a two goal deficit, something not unknown to a side which did just that one year ago.

Here I will now analyse four talking points from the game;

1)  Ox And Yaya

Amid a game swirling in negatives, we must first pick up on positive signs from the side. Our attacking play looked like an interesting gamble by Wenger but Sanogo’s physical attributes seemed to outweigh that of any other striker at the club. He exhibited great agility and pace to create extra pockets of space behind Boateng and Dante.

Along with his movement, Sanogo also has a height and strength advantage which we may have been able to utilise more efficiently. We seemed to use the ‘long-ball’ option more frequently and his odd flick-on created space for the Ox. Potentially a tactic we could use in future, which mimics that of the little and large combo we have seen so often in the Premiership.

2) Brutal Bayern

There’s no saying last inight was a woeful result. At first we had the Germans under our thumb, but the referee’s decision to send off Wojciech Szczesny drastically changed the nature of the game. Wenger’s decision to take off Santi signalled he was aiming to play defensively and keep us in it ahead of the return leg in Germany.

It was inevitable they would score but perhaps we should have just gone for broke and try to grab something from the game. With Cazorla’s absence we had just 12% second half possession which, against the best or not, is just humiliating. Our stamina was not to the standard to press Bayern for the whole ninety so maybe we should learn from it and go to Munich to completely attack the game.

3) Manic Mesut

A missed penalty, little impact and poor defensive performance in the second-half signalled all is not well for Mesut Özil, who put in a school-boy shift once again. After lighting up the Arsenal dressing room early on in his Gunners career, he has been a victim of his own success and his average performances now look abhorrent compared with his previously stellar showings.

His creativity was limited last night aside from his penalty win and Bayern simply switched him off. Each run made alerted Dante to knock him off the ball and he rarely backed Monreal up at the back. Ahead of the second-leg, perhaps Özil should be rested in league action to make way for Rosicky allowing us to attack the game in Munich with a fully-fit, first-choice squad.

4) Reflection

Bayern made us look amateur after the controversial red-card decision, which arguably ‘spoiled’ the game. Their constant disciplined style of play of knowing when to both attack and defend, highlighted why they broke over 20 Bundesliga records last campaign.

Our Champions League ambitions have all but de-railed, but this does not mean we should not attack the next game with the belief we are still in it. We rocked Bayern with our 2-0 win there last season and their inability deciding whether to stick or twist left them unstuck.

We had roughly 20% possession in this clash, lower than any other Champions League competing side. Although we are unable to ‘soak’ up pressure, our aim in Munich should be to keep the likes of Kroos or Robben quiet by pressing with two or three bodies and fire with pace on the counter.

Overall a tough result to take but let’a focus ahead of our league game with Sunderland on Saturday. Thanks for reading!

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2 Comments

  1. Lawrence Flomo

    February 20, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    For me I’m fully aware da d players are doing pretty well, but my problem is d coach who failed to add another quality in january. Look at d current team, if one player is injured, no possible replacement. Secondly, he refuse to give great Rosicky a regular role. Why?

  2. dave

    February 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Honestly, how was that sending off controversial? Robben in a prime position, only the keeper close, totally missed the ball and took out the player – I was behind the goal, seen the replays – it was a straight red and a pentalty no matter what way you view it. Wengers attitude about it is pretty disgusting, embarrassing even.

    Very few people have actually mentioned Ozil was offside when that pass was played, it was never a penalty or a yellow. I anyone had favourable refereeing, it was arsenal(again – anyone recall how the goal from last year came about?)

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