Bayern vs Arsenal: Déjà vu for Arsenal fans as Champions League hopes are over once again
Arsenal fans have seen this all before. Their team once again suffered a heavy first-leg loss in the last 16 of the Champions League against Bayern.
Once again Arsene Wenger’s side look as though they are going to fall at this stage of the competition. This will be the seventh straight season that the Gunners have gone out in the first knockout round.
Things did not look too bad for a while but an early second half injury to Laurent Koscielny turned the game in Bayern’s favour who looked as though they could have had as many as they wanted once Gabriel replaced him in Arsenal’s defence.
Arjen Robben opened the scoring for the hosts after just 11 minutes. He cut in from the right-hand side and fired into the top corner. There is no denying that it was a fantastic goal but the defending left a lot to be desired. Three defenders stood off and let Robben get his shot away under minimal pressure.
Arsenal were scrappy and struggled to hold onto the ball for too long but after 30 minutes Robert Lewandowski brought down Laurent Koscielny for a penalty. The Arsenal defender nicked the ball away from Lewandowski as he was trying to clear and he followed through and brought Koscielny down.
Alexis Sanchez stepped up and despite seeing his penalty saved, calmly put the ball in the net with a great finish under a lot of pressure from the Bayern defenders.
Arsenal grew into the game over the rest of the first half but couldn’t make the pressure pay. Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil both had chances but couldn’t beat Manuel Neuer in the Bayern goal.
After 52 minutes Lewandowski made up for his earlier error with a towering header to the far post. David Ospina could do little about it.
Four minutes later and things were made worse. Some good play by Bayern got Thiago in behind who calmly slotted past Ospina.
On 63 minutes Thiago got his second and Bayern’s fourth. From a corner the ball came to him on the edge of the area where his low shot deflected off Granit Xhaka and into the Arsenal goal.
Thomas Muller rounded things off for the Germans with just four minuted remaining and put an end to any hopes of a miraculous second leg comeback.
It was a night to forget for many of Arsenal’s players. Francis Coquelin once again left many scratching their heads at why he continues to keep his place in the team. He completed just six (YES SIX!) passes and failed to win a single tackle all game before being replaced near the end. Ozil struggled to get on the ball and Gabriel proved just how important Koscielny is to the team.
Losing to Bayern is forgivable. Getting embarrassed in this way is not. Something clearly needs to change. That may be a change of tactics or something a lot more than that, but right now Arsenal can’t seem to put in a performance in any big game.