Once again the sacrificing of top spot in the Champions League has come back to bite us in the backside. Bayern Munich are one of Europe’s top clubs and we faced the daunting challenge of turning them over off the back of a very shoddy season. Pre-game the atmosphere was buzzing. I met a pal in the Che and although the outcome of the match was pretty much agreed to be a defeat, there was that sprinkling of energy around the ground that something special might happen. When we landed at the Grove, the Bayern fans were in full furious voice and more than added to the atmosphere when they set three flares off in the stands. The smoke drifted around the ground and the smell of gunpowder added to the feeling that Arsenal were about to go to war…
The game kicked off and what was apparent straight away was the dominant size of the German team. Van Buyten and Dante (£4m) at the back were man monsters, you kind of wondered what Wenger had in his head playing Theo Walcott against two giants who didn’t even need to jump to dominate him. I get that speed might have out done them, but Theo isn’t exactly world class on the ground. Play was back and forth as the two sides tried to settle into a groove. It looked like Walcott had the first chance on goal, an effort easily dealt with by Neuer.
The first goal came from terrible defending start to finish. It looked like Mertesacker played a hopeless ball to Vermaelen, he lost possession on the half way line, fell over,Schweinsteiger laid the ball off the Ribery, he then laid the ball off to Mueller who crossed with ease as Koscielny jockeyed… Kroos was on the edge of the box and banged home past our keeper. No challenge. Well, at least not a challenge that landed within in 10 seconds of the strike. The shot was thunderous and we all know that our keeper is rarely capable of surprising you with an astonishing save.
One nil down after 6 minutes. Reminiscent of that horrible United game 4 years ago. The fans were totally flattened. Why? Because nothing has been learnt since then.
The second goal was even harder to stomach because it was so unbelievably naive / lazy. We conceded a corner, it was fired into the front post, one I’d probably lambast Theo for… Ramsey and Mertesacker both watched on like shell shocked children as Daniel van Buyten (Bayern’s juggernaut defender) steamed in like a giant ghost wearing a neon jack with a siron on his head, his header was parried by the keeper, again, no one reacted on our team… leaving Müller to pounce and roof into the net.
Comical defending. An embarrassment that we’re witnessing that sort of football at home in the Champions League. At that point things started to get acidic in the stands, people were screaming all sorts at Arsene Wenger and small pockets of people were chanting for the manager to go. I hate that. Mid-match to behave like that is a disgrace. It makes for the sort of feeling you get in a pub when you know trouble is about to kick off. That’s not what football is about and it was really quite unnerving.
Arsenal didn’t really improve after the goal, things just got worse. Thomas Vermaelen at left back once again demonstrated that having a left foot does not mean you’re capable of playing more than one position. At right back, Bacary Sagna was an absolute disgrace to his shirt and his reputation. At one point he’d bombed the length of the pitch to get back in position, then when the keeper needed him to show… he wouldn’t turn and face him… this was 42 minutes in. There were plenty of other moments during the game where his attitude just reeked of ‘I don’t give a f*ck’. He should be dropped from the squad based on his performance.
In midfield, Santi Cazorla was no where to be seen all night, he didn’t show at all. Mikel Arteta, for all his professionalism is guilty every game of slowing our pace down. We don’t get the ball to the front three quick enough. Aaron Ramsey put in a shift, he covered a lot of ground, but he’s just not the quality you need to be facing Bayern Munich with.
Things picked up briefly, but we didn’t really have anything substantial to show for it. Then Mandzukic managed to slip between both Koscielny and Mertesacker to whistle a bullet header that slipped just wide of the post. It’s like they have no awareness at all. There’s no communication or leadership at the back. No one wants to take responsibility, bar Jack, who was seen giving some mouth the Vermaelen.
Arsenal did manage to source a glimmer of hope when Neuer decided to show our keeper he wasn’t the only one capable of flapping at crosses. He came bounding out of the area, more concerned with shoving our players over than connecting the ball, the ball bounced and Podolski nodded into an empty net. That was literally his only contribution of the game. He’s a very lazy player who has no regard for covering his full back. Which is pretty poor when you consider your left back is a make shift player who has less confidence than the boy who wet himself at a school play.
The team had nothing to give, there was one point when we had had a throw out on the right, it felt like it took 30 seconds for anyone to show into space. Our pressing game is totally pointless because we don’t do it in packs and only half the team can be bothered to do it.
We brought on some players to chase the game, Rosicky and Giroud did offer us a little bit more in attack. I have no idea why we play Ramsey ahead of the Czech, he’s a far better player. He launched a 50 yard ball to Theo, he controlled it and cut to Giroud who fired his shot at Neuer. Outside that, there was very little additional information to contribute to this match report.
Wenger punished his team at the end by not going to speak to them for 30minutes. Nice one, exactly what a team lacking in direction needs, less direction.
I was wondering during the game why everyone was so irate. I was wondering why the joy of going to see Arsenal has diminished to such a point, it’s almost become an excercise is masochism. I think it’s quite simple. We’re paying a huge amount of money, we’re investing a huge amount of time… and we’re seeing the same problems rehashed in almost exactly the same manner year after year. Last night was no different to United at home with the flags, or the second leg away to Barcelona on both occasssions, or the away leg in Milan. Well, there is a difference, each year the players get that little bit worse. Last night was infuriating because Wenger is the guardian of Arsenal football club, we put our trust in him to know what the problems are… and he refuses to address them. Last nights half time and full time booing weren’t beause of an isolated result, they were a culmination of 8 years of stagnation. 8 years of trying to rule Europe without a game plan. 8 years of selling your best players for massive money. 8 years of replacing them with substandard players.
The joke of this summer is that we won’t have to suffer with an exodus of players, why? Because bar Jack Wilshere, the best have already been picked off.
The joke of yesterday is that we rested our best players which resulted in us bombing a trophy we had a chance of winning… to show up our rested first team as not capable of competing at the highest level.
Sure the game isn’t over mathmatically, but I feel confident enough to say that we don’t have a shock performance in us to turn this around. We simply don’t have the quality. We don’t have a defence, we don’t have a keeper, our midfield is severely lacking bar Jack and up front, when it comes to the highest level, we’re predictable and one track.
Arsene Wenger has spoke about how his team haven’t been together for that long. Well, Bayern finished second last year, they spent £63m on Dante, Shaqiri, Mandzuckic and Martinez… plus some addtional players. They were fine last night. They’re dominating their league and they just turned us over. If you have intent, there are good players. None of those were out of our range. Bayern are sustainable, but get this, they’re ambitious with a lower wage bill than ours.
Last night wasn’t as painful as Blackburn and Bradford… but it was a short, sharp slap in the face for Arsene Wenger who has, for the 16th season in a row, failed in a competition he’s supposed to covet the most.
Arsene Wenger is finished in the top flight as a manager. I just hope he isn’t given the last year of his contract to have a final blow out. We’ll only miss him when he’s gone if we make a cataclysmic cock up with the next guy we bring in, because as far as I can see, Wenger is lost as a manager. He really doesn’t have a clue.
This next week is the biggest under Wenger, if we don’t beat Villa and lose to Spurs, our season could be over by March 3rd. Think about that…
P.S. The training ground bust up between Bould and Wenger doesn’t have any base in truth…