Bayern Munich defeated Arsenal 3-1 on aggregate to progress to the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League. The defending champions played out a 1-1 draw at the Alianz Arena after grabbing a 2-0 lead in the first leg at the Emirates.
1. The 7th Man on the Bench
Arsenal traveled with 18 players to Munich only to discover that one of them was not eligible to play. Ryo was deemed ineligible.
He was not eligible because he was not qualified to play in the Champions League because I wanted to give him out on loan so we took him out of the list and Uefa informed us today that he is not qualified. – Wenger
Wenger took him out of the list and didn’t enlist him back. Forgot? Did we need to be informed that he is ineligible? It was surprising to see just 6 subs when Bendtner or any other player could have given us another option. Well, it never really mattered. It may have mattered.
2. Ozil and Big Games
It in now becoming customary that Mesut Ozil seems to take a vacation against the big boys. This same question keeps popping up whenever we have played against bigger and stronger teams. He was played on the wings and lost too many balls to the touch. He did try his best to wriggle out of some Bayern challenges but his impact was not felt. The gooners continuously expects the German play-maker to leave up to his price tag but time without number, he has been average, if not below, against these big teams.
Ozil was taken off at half time after suffering a hamstring injury. Rosicky will come on to impact positively as he has always done in big games. Rosicky seems to be the big game player while Ozil can take on other teams. Arsenal have big games ahead in the Premier League against Chelsea, City, Spurs and Everton.
3. The Rampaging Ox in the Middle
When the team sheet were released, it was exciting to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain start in the middle of the pack. The Ox and Arteta had the holding roles just like in 2012 against Milan. The first half had sparks only from the young English lad as he rampaged through the Bayern midfield twice to get Dante booked and give Arsenal two free kicks.
Unfortunately for the young lad, none of his runs were converted to a goal, nor were the free kicks he gained picked up from the Bayern net. His pace was terrifying and his calmness with the ball was exquisite. With heads high, he was subbed out for Flamini to avoid damaging his hamstring. Will Wenger keep playing him there? He sure will be in Brazil in the summer.
4. One Bullet From Podolski
A minute after Bayern had gone ahead, Podolski robbed Lahm of the ball and fired a rocket past Neuer to put the game to a tie. The German forward have now gotten 5 goals in 7 Champions Legaue games. Last season, he was Arsenal’s highest goal scorer in the Champions League with 4 goals from 4 shots on goal. 100%.
This season, injury took its toil. But after he returned, he had seen less games than expected. That goal from such a tight spot shows why he is the best and most accurate shooter in Arsenal. I doubt any other yellow shirted player would have scored from there. Nevertheless, his 2nd half performance raises questions of why he has not been used in recent times. He needs just one shot on goal.
5. Inexperience is Key
Much as we love to see young inexperience players put up a David-and-Goliath-esque performance, we cannot continue to be burnt by their seemingly inexperience in front of goal. Experience is a sequel to naivety but lacking experience playing against the best team in the world is a problem. Arsenal had few chances in the last 10 minutes, few of which fell to Gnabry. Gnabry had been awesome in the few games he has played in the EPL but his boots deserted him like Sanogo at Stoke.
Arsenal will need to fortify their ranks with experienced bunches if they must make their mark in Europe and even the English Premier League.
Ashley Young is known for his diving antics in the Premier League but Robben is an experienced general. In the first half, he dived when Vermaelen tackled the ball from him. He got away without a card. This motivated him to repeat a more orchestrated act as the game was coming to an end. The referee adjoined that Koscienly fouled the Dutch forward, thus pointing to the spot. The gunners fell for his tricks.
7. Chances Not Taken
It was expected that the Bavarians would create a lot of chances and Arsenal did their best by nullifying that attack as much as possible. But, it was also expected of Arsenal to utilize any attack they get to keep their hopes alive. Last year in Munich, it took the gunners 2 minutes to score the 1st goal.
Giroud’s header saved by Neuer from a corner kick was Arsenal’s best chance of the 1st half. Other dead balls from free kicks and corner kicks were not utilized. As expected, Arsenal have been poor in utilizing dead balls.
There were no pace for counters, nor were the forwards decisive when given the opportunity. Giroud was usually out jumped by Dante but could do little when he was gifted the ball by Neuer. Gnabry had chances but the Sanogo in him overpowered his sight for goal. If only these chances were taken. 3 goals in 10 minutes would have been great.
8. Fabianski Replacement
Wojciech Szczesny has claimed the no1 jersey and doesn’t seem like going back. His compatriot and assistant, Lukasz Fabianski was in goal at Munich and performed well enough. For once, Arsenal seem to have the best second best keeper in the world. A year ago, he kept a clean sheet and last night, he saved a penalty to keep the tie at 1-1.
His double save from the penalty was his highlight of the game, not forgetting his save from Mandzukic’s boots and others he claimed. He could do nothing as Bastian Schweinsteiger shot at goal. It is sad that the Pole will leave at the Summer: to where? Who will replace him? Martinez or another? Fabianski is better than his status of being backup.
9. Perhaps it is Worth Winning Your Group After all
There are a few moments over the course of the tie that will cause Arsène Wenger great regret, not least Mesut Özil’s penalty miss and Wojciech Szczesny’s red card in the first leg at the Emirates, but ultimately his side met the current impregnable force of European football at the last-16 stage, when they could have avoided it. Topping your group is no guarantee of a comfortable draw, as Arsenal know too well from past pairings with Milan and Bayern, but Wenger’s side needed only a point in their last game at Napoli in December to win Group F but were beaten 2-0, allowing Borussia Dortmund to edge ahead of them. Dortmund won their first leg against Zenit 4-2 in St Petersburg and will surely reach the last eight while Arsenal are out at this stage for the fourth year in succession. (from Guardian UK)
10. Same Old Story
Heads held high. Unbeaten run in Germany. Solid defense. Poor first leg. Questionable calls. chances not taken. injuries to key players. Till next season. what-ifs. etc. Enough.
New Story? Win the FA Cup and maybe the Premier League.