While Arsenal may be an easy target due to their lack of success since 2004 (discounting back-to-back FA Cup wins), few can argue that the Gunners produce some of the most entertaining football in the Premier League. Just ask Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal or Watford boss Quique Sánchez Flores. Arsenal made 627 passes in a 3-0 win against the Hornets which was double the newly-promoted side’s tally of 303. However, Bayern had 69 per cent possession in the first half, which had increased to 70 per cent by full-time, which may have prompted some Arsenal supporters following the Champions League clash on BT Sport’s newly-refurbished app to do a double. Unsurprisingly, a lack of possession resulted in a largely toothless Arsenal performance. But Olivier Giroud’s introduction unsettled the Bayern defence and the Arsenal substitute broke the deadlock in the 78th minute before Mesut Ozil added a second in injury time. While Arsenal are the Premier League’s best-known connoisseurs of total football, they only finished with 201 passes in comparison to Bayern’s 689. The BT Sport App’s stat highlights that possession-based football isn’t always the answer, or the winner.
If there was any doubt whether Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world, the Bayern shot stopper proved to European football that he is most impressive German obstacle since the Berlin Wall in north London. While the shot stopper was ill-advised to come for the cross which led to Giroud’s winner, Neuer underlined his supreme talent in the preceding 77 minutes. In particular, the World Cup winner’s close-range save to deny Theo Walcott in the first half prompted Jamie Carragher to liken the Germany international to Gordon Banks. While the 27-year-old’s save was against a less prolific striker than Pele, there was a passing resemblance to David Seaman’s famous FA Cup final save in 2002. It was the pick of his six saves on the night although the fifth official decided his final stop was meaningless as Ozil’s effort was adjudged to be over the line.
Arsene Wenger appears to have settled on Walcott as his first-choice striker after handing the England international a starting spot in five of the north London side’s last seven games. The 26-year-old has repaid his manager’s loyalty with three goals and three assists in his last six starts. But Giroud continues to remind the Frenchman of his qualities, albeit from the bench. The former Montpellier man has come off the bench to score three times this season. The super sub added a fourth to his tally on Tuesday night with a fortuitous winner which did appear to deflect off his hand. However, the 29-year-old’s presence was enough to cause uncertainty in the Bayern defence. The France international proved a real nuisance in his 15 minute cameo. Upon reflection, Wenger would perhaps have been better served going with the more robust Giroud against the German side. But if Giroud keeps having a goal-scoring impact from the bench, then Wenger may resist throwing the striker back into the starting line-up for the visit of Everton on Saturday.
Stats provided by BT Sport App
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