Arsenal 1-3 Bayern Munich | Clueless and outclassed

Losing to an outstanding Bayern Munich side is not like being beaten by Blackburn or Bradford. The shame tonight is not that we are (99%) out of another competition, but that all too familiar deficiencies in our game were the cause once again and nothing is ever done about them.

The main culprit was our infamous slow start. I didn’t expect us to come out of the blocks flying because confidence was low (0-0 at the break would’ve been a job well done) but to be 2-0 down inside 21 minutes and effectively out of the tie was ridiculous.

The manner of the goals were also depressingly familiar. Vermaelen lost possession on the halfway line and his vacant left back spot was exploited by Muller who whipped a cross to the edge of the area. If he was trying to pick out the unmarked Kroos then well played, but it looked like a stray ball that Kroos did brilliantly to lash past Szczesny.

The fact that Kroos was unmarked is what really annoyed me because it demonstrated the lack of defensive awareness that has blighted our game for a long, long time. Not from the defenders in this instance, but from the midfield. Take a look at the picture below of Muller crossing the ball and you will see Kroos on the edge of the D as Cazorla ambles slowly back, a few feet behind him, completely oblivious to any threat:

Cazorla's poor marking

Wilshere is also ball watching on the far right of the frame, but he is further away. The responsibility lies with Cazorla to assess the situation and cover someone standing alone in a dangerous area. Bayern did it, all night long in fact. We didn’t get any space in and around the box as the Germans were disciplined and worked hard to defend as a team. We don’t like the dirty work though and Wenger doesn’t put much emphasis on it — witness also our lack of pressing throughout the night compared to how well Bayern closed us down.

The second goal was just embarrassing. Mertesacker was stood near van Buyten, but when the latter made a run to the near post Mertesacker had to stand and watch because he was leaving his zone. This allowed van Buyten a run on Ramsey and of course he beat the Welshman in the air, having all the momentum. Szczesny made a poor attempt at a save and Muller reacted quicker than Arteta to score. Schoolboy stuff all round. Lee Dixon said they used to defend zonally when he was at the club, so maybe the problem isn’t the system but that the players haven’t been sufficiently coached. Which of course comes down to Wenger.

Wenger also hurt us by playing the wrong line-up. Walcott is simply not yet good enough to lead the line against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. He’s done well up front against inferior sides like Newcastle and Reading, but tonight he looked lost. The service was also poor and we couldn’t get men to support him quickly enough on the few occasions he had possession. We looked better the minute he went out wide and crossed for Giroud to hit that shot straight at Neuer. That’s how we should have started, with Podolski on the left, Walcott on the right and Giroud up front.

After we went 2-0 down we seemed to lose our temperament with Arteta and Sagna committing shocking fouls for which they were rightly booked. I haven’t seen so many reckless tackles from an Arsenal side in a long time and Ramsey, Vermaelen and Podolski also saw yellow for poor challenges. A sign of frustration no doubt.

Mandzukic should have made it 3-0 before halftime but headed narrowly wide, a let off we looked like capitalising on when Podolski nodded home an erroneously awarded corner. The German side’s defending was just as bad as ours on that occasion, but unfortunately it was a one-off.

Giroud’s snap-shot could’ve made it 2-2 but instead Robben broke away down the right, fed the overlapping Lahm (with Cazorla again letting his man go) and his low cross was bundled in by Mandzukic. It was a lucky finish, but there was no injustice about the scoreline.

So the tie is as good as over. In the aftermath of the Blackburn defeat, here’s what Wenger said about facing Bayern Munich:

“It is a good opportunity to show that we have character and are men who can fight for each other. That is all you can do. You take a distance in terms of what people say and show how strong and good you are in the next game… We have a massive game on Tuesday night and we have to show that we have some response in the team.”

That sums it up really. I saw no character, no response and nobody willing to fight for each other except Wilshere (I’ve lost count of the times I’ve written ‘except Wilshere’ this season as he’s the only one truly immune from criticism). It’s further proof that Wenger is all about the spin. I expect to read similar propoganda about how we need to show our ‘mental strength’ in the build up to the second leg. If you took the time to analyse all of his quotes in retrospect you would see how much bullshit he comes out with.

So it’s on to Villa on Saturday, a team fighting for their lives who’ve had two weeks to prepare for the match. A friend of mine said if we lose to Villa it’ll be three trophies gone in the space of eight days — the FA Cup, the Champions League and Wenger’s favourite trophy, 4th place. I don’t know if it’s as drastic as that, but considering we’ve got to play Spurs and Everton straight afterwards there’s no room for error and certainly no room for the basic mistakes we made tonight.

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Comments
  1. mario

    You muppet, wenger has always been tactically naive, why else do you thhnk we have not won a european trophy.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

    • Gooner Steve

      I don’t disagree, just tonight it was an especially bad line-up. You muppet.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  2. Danish Gooner

    Heynckes made Wenger look like a like a first year scholar.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    • begeegs

      You mean an Economics Scholar 😉

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. The Saint

    All’s not lost; we can still win a trophy for our Glorious Leader so that he can continue to receive his Champions’ League money for next season! With the Fourth Place Cup Glorious Leader and his Central Committee a.k.a Board of Directors will have the profits they need to be happy. Our place as fans is to be content and to help our Great Leader by paying the highest ticket prices in the league and to continue to fund this Glorious Endeavour. Who are we to demand anything let alone trophies from our Beloved Great Silent Leader? After all we fans exist just to serve and to contribute to profits! To hell with our enemies elsewhere who try to undermine our Great Leader by even suggesting that Fourth Place is not a real trophy; we will have our revenge!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  4. Spectrum

    Ha-ha ! Well said Saint. The peasants ( A.K.B.’s ) must dutifully continue to praise our Dear Leader, as he has given us so much ( even if it was so very long ago ). Oh how I adore the wonderful Kim…( sorry )… “Arsene”. We the workers ( supporters )are instructed to redouble our efforts ( get behind / support the team ), so that his honour will live on forever in our hearts and minds, and never be extinguished ( job for life ? ). Arsene, your wisdom is immeasurable. No-one can do better. Oh how I count myself fortunate to breathe the same hallowed air as you. ( sob ). Never leave us, Dear One.

    “In Arsene we rust.”

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  5. nico

    Gents,

    We are fucked! – lets face it no confidence, lack of quality, inexperienced and 2nd rate players replacing top quality player who have left to go to winners!

    Arsenal (the board and Wenger) have systematicaly ripped the heart out of such a great team 5 or 6 years ago.

    I’m tired of this club and its sad demise over the years. I hope we can make a miracle and win 3-0 in Germany now thats the fan talking cos it would be glorious but to be realistic we will probably lose 2 or 3-1, I hope we make 4th spot but that is dependant on Spurs game and right now with the morale at rock bottom we are fucked!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Gooner Steve

      You’re not wrong Nico, fucked just about sums it up.

      In trying to admirably make us a self sufficient club, Wenger/the board have leaned too far towards profit and neglected the football side of things for too long now. Ironically this will cost us £30m when we miss out on the top four.

      We must beat Villa and do it well, because spirits need to be lifted for the matches with Everton and Spurs. I fear Villa will be a tough test though and Benteke on his day is real quality.

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  6. nico

    Yes – just a negative vibe around the club now – I hope Wenger can turn things around – I do feel sorry for him taking all this flak but it is his and the boards fault. lets hope we do finish fourth and this seasons failure not to contest for anything but fourth spot agin wakes them up to the reality that they need to spend and spend big cos we need a prolific striker a strong midfielder a couple of top class defenders and a good goal keeper. £80m should do it and wages to suit accordingly ! Lets see.. the players have to step up.

    Against Bayern he should have played Giroud up front walcot on the wing and no bloody Ramsey!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. Shanzuman

    It hearts me very much to have to say this but the only way now is for us to loose to Vila and Spurs etc and not finish 4th and be thrushed by Bayern so that the Board having lost millions will than at last realise the severity of our football manageent crisis that we are in. If we by some miracle,like the goal we were gifted by the ref this week, escape and just finish 4th than the Board will have earned themselves the £25m+ and hence thank AW and spur him to go get some more next season!! They will turn on more spin, purchase a few mediocre players and the AKB’s will be satisfied that we can go on to challenge for trophies under the great AW!! What a load of old bollocks, we will be in the same boat yet again and the music goes on and on…………….. The ONLY way forward, as I said before, is for AW to resign gracefuly and we move on to new pastures with a clear objective to rejoin the elite top 4 and challenge for silverware.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0