Ahhh well, we didn’t expect to win did we? The shame of it is, that once again, there was a mitigating circumstance standing in the way of what was once again, a ‘glorious failure’. (Alex coined that)
I can’t write this report with any sort of neutrality, because I haven’t seen the game back and as far as I’m concerned, the way the match played out is we dominated the chances until our keeper found himself sent off harshly for conversing a penalty. Then the match was only going in one direction… A loss. And so it was.
I feel aggrieved. I almost feel positive in the sense that it felt very much like Arsene arrived with a game plan. He parachuted in Yaya Sanogo to deputise for an emotionally broken Giroud. I want to believe Yaya was played because he offered pace and the power Giroud has lost. He also brought in The Ox. Again, a tactical master stroke-ish, because he gave Bayern food for thought with their pressing style.
As you can see, rose tinted spectacles here, because despite some solid running around and some nice touches, Sanogo is a million miles off being able to cause Bayern problems in the Champions League. Not his problem, Arsene’s for having an inadequate squad.
Anyway, apologies for jumping around, but massive round of applause to Red Action for sorting out the cardboard display. It looked spectacular in the ground and grown men love nothing more than waving something around. So much fun. The ground was literally rocking by the time I arrived. The difference in excitement levels between that and the FA Cup was embarrassing (for the FA Cup).
Anyway, early on, Kroos let us know he was there when he let rip with a monster shot that Chezzer did extremely well to claw away. I was stood right behind that shot, it really was a ripper.
Yaya showed a lot of excitement early on, bounding into players, making a nuisance of himself. He went close with a header that went about 6 yards wide. Look, I’m an Arsenal fan who has suffered Giroud hitting corner flags with his head from 6 yards. That was progress.
Santi let rip with a shot that Neuer, the most German looking German of all time, did well to get down to. He also did well when Yaya let off a well worked first time shot.
Then our moment came… Ozil had his legs clipped. Penalty. The crowd, wild with anticipation, so excited, many had picked up their red bits of cardboard to wave around, looked up and winced… Ozil had stepped up. Almost everyone around me face palmed, you knew what was coming. He stepped up, tried to psych the keeper, hit a duff penalty Neuer fisted away.
The crowd flatlined for a minute. Then we were back in the game.
The Germans felt their way back into the match, a rocket shot was blocked by Flamini. Then came the moment that we were all dreading, some lovely interchange work out wide allowed Robben in on goal with a volley, he clipped the ball round the keeper (it went wide) and then clattered into him. For me, it was merely a foul. He saw red, penalty awared… but then their left back hit the post! Redemption.
Arsenal fans were disgusted and it fueled an us vs the world mentality in the ground that sparked an evening of heavy singing regardless of what was going on. It was like being on the deck of the titanic as it slowly sunk. A sorry sight, but the simple realities were that we couldn’t compete against the monsters of Europe chipping away at our deplted vessel.
The second half saw Rafinha introduced to the show… and so the dominance began.
We still had the air of a threat. Chamberlain and Sanogo were doing their best to break when we had the chance, but it wasn’t enough really.
Kroos opened the scoring with a beautiful long range effort that hit the top corner. Our midfield not alert enough to close down the impending danger.
The second goal at the end, was even more disappointing, Muller waltzed through the middle and scored a simple diving header. Upsetting in the extreme. At 1-0 it’s a game… at 2-0, it’s a training match. Really upsetting, but once again, a great match dressed up in glorious failure. Much like Milan, Barca and Bayern last year. Always the side kicks to great European nights, rarely the lead super hero.
Big players show up in big games. Ozil is a big player, but his penalty was pathetically timid and ill thought out. A lot of people were complaining that he must have a clause in his contract that says he plays all the minutes. Sorry people, no modern day player asks for that. He’s not lazy, he’s just totally ruined because Arsene hasn’t looked after his fitness. His sprints per game are down by half post Christmas. That’s not a change in attitude, that’s a change in energy levels. He can’t run… which makes the decision to leave him on the the pitch and taking off Chambo even more baffling. I said a few weeks ago, playing big players in games like Coventry would bite us… last night, you saw another example of why rotation is so important.
Ahhh jeez, I can’t help but like the guy. He’s a big old lump that has ‘the new Ade’ written all over him. He’s infectious to watch on the pitch, but mainly because he puts in a lot of effort. He’s still 3-4 years away from being anywhere near the striker we need. He’s so, so raw and it’s a bit of a shambles he’s even an option against the Champions of Europe. However, full marks to him for playing the best he could play last night. I just hope he’s not the excuse of the summer as to why we didn’t sign a world class striker.
They knew they were coming to Arsenal to win. I know we dominated the chances early on, but realistically, I think we all knew they had many gears to work through. We’ll never know what might have happened, but my suspicions say we’d have been beaten in the end regardless. We didn’t have teeth last night, they had some of the sharpest.
Arsenal are going to have to rotate heavily this weekend because a ten man defeat against Bayern isn’t good for recovery and it’s certainly not great for morale! Giroud should return, because Sanogo looked ruined after 60 minutes. Podolski and Santi should both start and Ozil should be rested. Sunderland is hugely important now. Pick up three points there and we’re still massively in the mix. Now Wenger has a decision to make, does he give up the away leg and focus on the FA Cup and League glory… or does he go for the 3-0 win against a team that’s won 32 from 36 and scored in every game for the last 54?
I know what I’d be doing…
Lot of people saying Lukas should have started through the middle. I’m not sure I can agree. I’d have considered him out on the left, but through the middle, he’d have been eaten alive by the Bayern centre backs. I like the German, but he’s massively limited as a centre forward. He doesn’t have the engine and his movement, at the highest level, really does leave a lot to be desired.
Not as impressive as I thought they’d be, but I think that’s because they didn’t need to step into 5th gear. They have so much talent all over the pitch. That’s where we need to be as a club. We have too many gaps in quality. That, in the main, is because we don’t have a manager who is comfortable with major competition. I think another factor in that is that he’s not comfortable with the concept of rotation. If you have 14 players you like to run into the ground, why would you even contemplate a squad of 25 top. top players?
Nothing short of superb last night. From the firs minute, to the last, absolute heroes of the terraces. That was one of my favourite fan moments of the Emirates. No bitching, no moaning, just singing and enjoying our day out in the fading European sun. I think we just have to accept that the Premier League is all about occasion. Football is too diluted by average games to get a ripping atmosphere at every game. Which is why I love games like that so much!