Bayern Munich 5 – 1 Arsenal
We are the best in the world! We are the best in the world! We have been beaten by Bayern 5 – 1 in football!! It is completely unbelievable! We have lost in Munich!
Arsenal, the birthplace of giants. Alexis Sanchez! Mesut Ozil! Erm, him. Um, Him. Them. Pffft, Hector Bellerin! Theo Walcott! – they have beaten them all. They have beaten them all.
Stanley Kroenke, can you hear me? Stanley Kroenke, I have a message for you in the middle of counting your billions. I have a message for you. Bayern has knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League. Stanley Kroenke, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York, your boys took a hell of a beating! Your wallet took a hell of a beating!
Arsène made an emotional decision to stay at the club in 2014 but after last night, it’s time for an emotional goodbye. Post-match, the life had gone out of his eyes as he stood before the cameras utterly shocked by the collapse on the pitch, over which he had presided.
For the last twenty minutes or so of the first half, Arsenal were on top. The players were intent on hauling themselves off the ropes and getting something from this match. An equaliser came out of nowhere; Alexis fluffed his lines from the penalty spot, miscontrolled the ball before finding a fabulous finish, drilling the ball into the far corner past the helpless Neuer.
It wasn’t quite as good as Arjen Robben’s curling shot, which glanced the underside of the crossbar as it entered the net, but it was no less stunning. Both goals came from defensive errors; Coquelin shepherded the left-footed Robben in from the right touchline and invited the shot while Bayern had 5 (five!) defenders between Sanchez and the goal.
Mesut Ozil could – should – have made it 2 – 1 before the interval, shooting straight at Neuer when clean through and what a difference that could have made.
Then it all fell apart. Koscielny’s hamstring twanged like a steel guitar and Arsenal lost any semblance of leadership on the pitch. Mustafi’s defending went to pieces, and for a player who has a World Cup winners medal, there was a disturbing lack of appreciation of where Lewandowski was for the second while berating colleagues allowed Thiago to stroll through.
The misery was completed when the fourth deflected past Ospina less than a minute after the Colombian had made an astonishing reflex save from point-blank range. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cheap ceding of possession left Mueller with confidence-boosting fifth.
It’s easy to criticise but harder to find the answers. This morning Ornstein from the BBC announced that his sources claimed a decision on Arsene’s future would be taken at the end of the season. Let’s hope it’s taken before then, and that it only becomes public then. Arsenal have to be mindful of the Stock Exchange regulations in all of this, which underlines what a mixed up world football inhabits.
As it is, we go forward and plan for Sutton on Monday. A weekend off football might just be what the doctor ordered.
*with apologies to Bjørge Lillelien