Arsenal v Bayern Munich: Instant Reaction

Laurence Griffiths

Instant reaction to Arsenal's frankly predictable defeat to Bayern Munich.

Arsenal started brightly with a nice move down the right hand side, before Santi Cazorla hit a dire cross that was deflected to Manuel Neuer. After that, there was absolutely no evidence of a plan, with this tweet saying it all:

Thomas Vermalen was awful at left back. He continually opened up the left flank by diving into challenges, and was then slow to get back into position, and slow to close down. It was worse than anything Andre Santos ever did at left back, but he's the captain and shows "urgency" by diving in and being all aggressive. That's how the first goal happened. He continually did it, showing the learning ability of a 4 year old. If Vermaelen is sold in the summer, as he's rumoured to be, I for one will not complain a single bit.

Wojciech Szczesny might as well have punched the ball into Arsenal's net for the second goal, but Per Mertesacker was equally culpable. Although Szczesny was poor, he was let down by his captain and by his centre back with 80 caps with Germany, both of whom were second best to everything.

Laurent Koscielny was basically Arsenal's defence. Bacary Sagna was, again, no where at right back, and Mertesacker was totally perplexed by Bayern's impressive movement.

Arsenal, supposedly a passing team, were reduced to hitting long balls for their 5'7 striker, for him to compete with Bayern's two centre-halves. Again, no evidence of a plan.

Santi Cazorla was utterly anonymous on the right, didn't track back, and when he did get the ball, he slowed everything down by doing that Samir Nasri-esque cutback dribble into a cul-de-sac. His game was summed up by failing to track Phillip Lahm, and by, in the 90th minute and Arsenal having a free kick in a dangerous position, playing a lazy, lazy, easily clearable free kick.

I honestly forgot Podolski was playing. Then he scored.

Aaron Ramsey was everywhere, and along with Mikel Arteta actually tried to win the ball back and cover for Thomas Vermaelen being dumb.

Arsenal did the classic play much better in the 2nd half, and Podolski scored a header after everyone connected with Bayern missed Wilshere's corner. After 70 minutes (!) Arsenal finally brought on their only centre forward, along with Rosicky. Rosicky immediately played a fantastic ball for Walcott, who crossed for Giroud, who spanked the shot, but unfortunately, just at Neuer. That was the chance to level the tie; soon after, Cazorla apparently, like me, forgot he was playing and let Lahm run free, and Vermaelen again showed the positional discipline of an overeager puppy.

Bayern Munich, though, were outstanding. They showed how to protect a dodgy defence, by relentless pressing. They moved the ball quickly, sharply, and showed lots and lots of fluidity. Arsenal once played like that, but, the problem this season has been that Arsenal have never played like that.

The scoreline, 3-1, seems about right. Arsenal are, and have been all season, a very mediocre team. It's amazing to think that two years ago this week they deservedly beat Barcelona. They're a long, long way from that, and at the end of the season, the reasons why we're a long way from that have to be dealt with by everyone at the club, including the silent no-show of an owner.

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