Apologies for the late post, I spent the whole of the Bayern game stuck on a plane yesterday waiting for the news bulletin the fly in.
I wasn’t surprised. I wondered how I’d feel not being a part of it and just finding out the result. At first, I shrugged my shoulders. The reality of last night is that we never had a chance of overturning such a heavy defeat against such a brilliant team in the first leg. The starting line up was ok, but let’s be honest, that starting 11 was never going to be enough to take on a Bayern side who have 5 gears they’re always in complete control of.
My concern for the last two weeks was how Wenger would approach it. Would he make a tough sacrifice and bat for a fit squad for the league, or would he go all out. Well, he went all out. Kind of anyway. I mean, in a season full of farcical decisions and obvious cause and effect type issues… Wenger couldn’t even field a full bench. £150m wage bill with a manager on £7.5m a year… and he took Miyachi who had been removed from the Champions League squad. What an absolute joke… not that a Miyachi is turning a Bayern game on it’s head. But seriously, what the hell is going on there?
Even having Miyachi on the bench is an outrageous decision. We’re a powerhouse in European football and we’ve a lad who could barely force his way into a terrible Wigan side sitting on our bench. Where is the ambition?
Back to the squad issues, Arsenal held Bayern to 0-0 for a half, then the Ozil left the field of play with a hamstring injury (fatigue injury, certainly in a healthy 24 year old). As you know, this one wasn’t exactly an impossible set back to predict. He’s played a huge amount of minutes and 2 games rest isn’t enough to bring you back from the edge. You make a player play all the minutes, these things happen. For me, as I said in the two weeks building up to the game, last night should have been a training exercise. Instead, the manager fields a full first team for both… one game he can’t win… now we’re missing one of our most important players for the most important competitions… the top 4 trophy. It’s just bad management in my view. But we knew that’s what was going to happen… and it’s all penned down on this blog.
Anyway, the second half was marred by a Robben tumble, but brought back into focus with a Lukas save (love that guy these days). Bastian put Bayern one up… followed by a sharp retort by Podolski.
*I didn’t watch the game like you lot did, so I have no idea how close you felt to clawing the game back. Listening to Wenger post match, it sounded like it was an officiating issue.
Arsenal leave the competition, not in glorious failure, but more on a sad whimper.
We’re not good enough. It’s simple as that. At the highest level, Arsene Wenger is consistently found out. You can build a team rich enough to conquer all that sits below. If you have a great on pitch philosophy (note, for your own teams style) combined with players who can play Wenger ball, you’re going to achieve to a certain standard. However, when you get to the highest level, the game becomes about the details. I’ve been over this so many times before, but we’re not a club that is about the details anymore. We can’t even field a full bench.
In the last 16 if the Champions League, everyone is much of a muchness. If a team is better than you, you must find a way of defeating them that sits outside of your own comfort zone. Jose, for all the bitching, managed to take an Inter Milan side that was pretty average compared to some of the other teams at that time, and convert on the Champions League. Did he do that playing the best teams at their own game? Of course he didn’t. Was his style impressive? No way… it was horrible to watch. What he did was look at what was in front him, look at what he had at his disposal… and work it into a competitive advantage.
What did Arsenal do against the best team in Europe? Our curve ball was a 20 year old rookie making a debut in the home leg. Think about that. Think about the money we have at our club. Think about what the Champions League is all about… and that’s the best Arsene can come up with. We haven’t progressed from the last 16 in 4 years. Sure, there have been some bad luck incidents… but you make your own luck in this game. You can’t plead bad luck for 4 years. You can’t plead bad luck when you have £140m sitting in the bank unspent. You can’t plead bad luck when the reality is, our players may have improved over that time period (debatable), but our approach hasn’t changed in 17 years.
The chickens are coming home to roost this season. We all knew they would right? You can’t escape football reality. If you don’t do things correctly from the start, you’ll pay in the end.
An FA Cup final win represents progress, but real progress has to come with the elite competitions… and I’ve said it time and time again… I don’t think Wenger has it when it comes to the crunch. Too many predictable mistakes from start to finish. It’s undeniable these days. There’s a management malaise and the result yesterday encapsulated that with the bench, the squad and the injury to Ozil.
So whilst I’m not pulling my hair out here, because I expected it… I’m still disappointed.
Anyway, that’s me done. Have a great day, see you in the comments.